Innovating for Less: The Geospatial Platform
FY 2012 has seen the launch of version one of the Geospatial Platform. Beta-released in November 2011, the Geospatial Platform provides shared and trusted geospatial data, services, and applications for use by government agencies, their partners, and the public. Planning, governance, and funding are provided by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) member agencies. The Geospatial Platform's Oversight Body will include involvement from State, local, regional, and Tribal governments. Significant recommendations and advice for the Geospatial Platform's Business Plan were provided by the National Geospatial Advisory Committee. As the Managing Partner, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is working with the DOI Geospatial Information Officer and the FGDC Office of the Secretariat (OS), housed within the USGS Core Science Systems Mission Area, to provide strategic, technical, and contract support for the Platform's development and systems operations.
The development and launch of the Platform coincides with the May 2, 2012, release of the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB's) Federal Information Technology Shared Services Strategy, which requires agencies to "innovate with less" in order to improve the government's return on its information technology (IT) investment, close productivity gaps by implementing integrated processes and systems, eliminate duplication of systems and effort, and increase communication with stakeholders for better transparency and accountability.
Beginning with commodity-type IT investments (i.e., computer and accessory commercial purchases), OMB's plan for implementing "Shared First," as the strategy has come to be called, calls for the "crawl-walk-run" approach—aiming development of shared services at the least complex processes first (commodity IT), with more complex, mission-related processes being addressed within a few years. FGDC's Geospatial Platform represents a forward-thinking implementation of a government-wide, shared service that is mission-critical within many agencies. Further, OMB's strategy levies a requirement on agency CIOs to provide a roadmap for shared services they intend to develop. The Modernization Roadmap for the Geospatial Platform, released in late FY 2010, is a demonstration of the FGDC-OS's ear-to-the-ground prowess in its ability to be ahead of the curve for future requirements. While DOI focuses this year (and likely next) on IT transformation, another form of streamlining IT investments, the Geospatial Platform will allow USGS and DOI to quickly step out among leaders of Federal lines of business in implementing "Shared First" at the mission level.
The Geospatial Platform offers the following benefits:
- A "one-stop shop" to deliver trusted, nationally consistent data and services
- Tools that help users find and get access to data and services, regardless of their sources, and tools that allow them to easily map the data
- Shared Internet "group" spaces focused on specific topics, issues, mission functions, problems, and priorities where government agencies and partners can publish data and create coordinated geospatial map views
- Problem-solving applications that are built once and reused many times across multiple Federal agencies and other organizations
- Security-compliant services based upon open standards that ensure interoperability between components
- A shared cloud computing infrastructure to cost-effectively host data and applications, and handle increased service demands quickly without each participant having to buy more equipment
- Shared geospatial capabilities (hosting, services, analytical tools, and so forth) for Federal agencies that do not have the financial or human resources to leverage geospatial tools to help them fulfill their mission requirements with little or no additional cost
- The tools and infrastructure to enable decision makers to quickly and efficiently determine what geospatial data, services, and application assets can be brought to bear to identify solutions
- The opportunity to leverage complementary efforts such as Data.gov and the Federal cloud computing initiative
- The means to implement the Federal Geospatial Portfolio Management processes described in the November 2010 OMB Circular A–16 Supplemental Guidance
- A set of user-friendly tools to support key initiatives such as the Administration's Open Government Initiative and Place-Based Policies Initiative
The Geospatial Platform represents the maturation of key FGDC activities into an operational capability. This capability is focused on bringing multi-level governmental and non-governmental data and views into a shared, topic-focused environment to develop common understanding and coordinated approaches for addressing national and mission-specific issues and priorities.