Community Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Demonstration Teams
Pamela Johnson / Deputy Director / National Partnership for Reinventing
ESRI Users' Conference
San Diego, California
June 26, 2000
It's a great pleasure to be here in San Diego and to meet so many
pioneers in the development of GIS!
and teacher Margaret Mead observed that there is no limit to what
a small group of committed people can accomplish - - Jack, you and
your wife Laura are a testimony to that . . . I can only imagine
what this roomful of 10,000 committed people from around the world
What an army
today is a simple one - to celebrate new partnerships between people
like you who create this new mapping technology -- and people in
our local, state and federal government who use it to build a better
I also want
to celebrate a wonderful day - - a day that started with the announcement
of the mapping of the human genome. Then the announcement of the
geography network - - followed by a non-stop day of evidence that
the great Yogi Berra wasn't that off-base when he said: "the future
just ain't what it used to be!"
At the National
Partnership for Reinventing Government, we're working overtime to
create the future - - to build a government that works better, costs
less and gets results that the American people want. And an electronic
government - e-government - - that uses the best of technology to
serve our citizens.
than 30 million Americans file their taxes on line. Men and women
in the Navy can take courses, get a degree, send flowers to their
spouses and e-mails to their kids - - even when they are at sea.
of the National Library of Medicine and the National Archives are
available to every student.
can see the weather conditions on-line - - live from the Great Smokies
and Michigan Avenue in Chicago. As well as get on-line or e-mail
ain't what government used to be.
And we have
only begun creating the government of the future. Now, before I
go on with my remarks, I have to admit something. I am not a geographer.
I am, however, married to one. And that - plus my work for Vice
President Gore and NPR - have convinced me that geography holds
an important key to creating the government of the future.
probably all agree. You are, after all, 21st century mapmakers.
Like all great explorers, you are leading the way through unknown
terrain -- not mountains or deserts - or even a distant planet -
but a landscape different from any we have ever known.
This new frontier,
you see, is composed of information - oceans of unexplored data
-- miles of disparate facts - all waiting to be captured, organized
and used to better the human condition.
Gore said it best - - "We have an unparalleled opportunity to turn
a flood of raw data into understandable information about our society
and our planet . . . if we are successful, it will have broad societal
and commercial benefits in areas such as education, decision-making,
for a sustainable future, land-use planning, agricultural and crisis
we're here to recognize today are doing precisely that - - working
as partners to turn a flood of data from federal, state and local
sources into information that is making a difference in their communities.
Now I happen
to believe that they are creating a kind of geographic backbone
for the government of the future - - for an electronic government.
You could even call it "g-government" - - using the best of technology
to serve the same customers we want to serve at NPR - the taxpaying
And by doing
so they are enabling their communities, As Jack Dangermond said,
"integrating the bits of information and seeing the whole."
The six community
project demonstration teams used this technology to re-map their
communities. Their success and the army of digital change agents
here today suggest that if we work as partners it truly is possible
to re-map our nation for the information age.
We can see
the benefits. These teams have uncovered the "hidden geographies"
of their communities and have reshaped the future for thousands
of living Americans - and for countless more who will come after
demonstrated - in concrete ways - that spatial and information mapping
allows us to:
- save lives
that might otherwise be lost to violent crime;
communities that might otherwise be ravaged by natural disasters
growth and still preserve our nation's beautiful farmland and
across America, teams have captured, integrated and displayed layers
of data in ways that allow public officials to make smart choices
instead of best guesses.
important, GIS has opened doors, and invited citizens back into
the room where decisions are made to take part in the decisions
that affect them and their community.
GIS is helping people build the kind of future and the kind of communities
they want and need.
- In Gallatin
County, Montana - where growth has exceeded 25 percent in recent
years - ranchers and environmentalists came together and - yes
-- agreed on the first master plan for growth in the Montana!
- Dane County,
Wisconsin citizens are working together to preserve their rolling
farmlands while supporting smart growth. And with maps on the
web, they can send their comments on-line about county plans.
- In the Tijuana
River watershed here in beautiful San Diego County, flash floods
are common. American and Mexican researchers and planners have
identified high risk areas and modernized the flood maps for Goat
- The Tillamook
County team used GIS to pinpoint neighborhoods and communities
most vulnerable to flooding - and decided to elevate 55 houses
and 14 buildings at risk. When a flood did hit in Tillamook last
Thanksgiving, County Commissioner Sue Cameron estimated that good,
GIS-inspired planning had spared them more than $50 million in
- In Pennsylvania's
Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna watershed, Congress held a field
hearing for an anthracite bond initiative - using GIS maps that
revealed the mine-scarred landscapes in gritty detail.
- And in the
Baltimore-Washington area, 13 police departments can now map crime
and share information to fight crime across jurisdictions.
And in each
of these communities, Federal and local, public and private partners
worked together to build the infrastructure - - the framework data,
the metadata - - so that each community would have an enduring Information
infrastructure and would contribute their part to the National Spatial
And I am proud
to say that Federal "champions" worked hard with each of these communities
to deliver federal Information to the people who paid for it - -
the American taxpayers.
And ESRI worked
with them each step of the way.
of the Vice President, I want to present Jack Dangermond, ESRI,
the federal partners and representatives of each of the six community
teams here today with an award that has become synonymous with government
Award - as we call it - is not the most expensive award you will
ever receive - a regular $6 hammer, a little ribbon, and a note
card, all in an aluminum frame. But it may be the most valuable
award anyone can receive.
If you saw
the famous David Letterman episode where Vice President Gore used
a "government hammer" - purchased for $400 to smash an ashtray -
then you know how it all began.
became a common-sense symbol of common-sense government. The hammers
each of our teams are receiving today symbolize the common-sense
work they have done - breaking down the all too familiar barrier
that says "but we've always done it this way" and replacing it with
"let's make this happen!"
To each of
you the Hammer Award will probably mean something different. But
I like to think each Hammer Award is as unique as the team that
receives it . . .
So let me
ask representatives from the teams to come forward.
It is with great
pleasure that I would also like to present a Hammer Award to Jack
Dangermond representing the ESRI team that has worked with each of
- Our first
community demonstration team is from Gallatin, Montana: Lannette
Windemaker from Gallatin and Paul Dressler from the US Geological
- Ben Niemann
from the University of Wisconsin and Chris Clarke, from the US
Department of Agriculture are representing Dane, County, Wisconsin.
And Ben, I understand that you are part of Phil Lewis' dynasty!
the bi-national Tijuana Watershed team: Richard Wright from San
Diego State and Nina Garfield who is from the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration.
the Tillamook, Oregon team - - Commissioner Sue Cameron and John
Mahoney from the Department of the Interior.
- From the
Susquehana-Lackawana team: Dale Bruns from Wilkes University and
Dave Catlin from US EPA.
- And representing
the Baltimore, Md. Team, Alex Mudd from the Department of Justice.
Before I leave,
let me tell you all again how much I have enjoyed being here and
how much your work means to the Vice President.
20, even 35 years from now, you will be able to tell your family
and your neighbors, your children and grandchildren, or your friends'
children and grandchildren that you were here at an historic time
in the life of our country. That you were in on the creation of
E-government and indeed of "g-government." That you helped create
our future and transform our government.
"hammer" pins proudly. You are in excellent company. Share what
you have learned. And encourage others to trust their vision.
everyone here today for your work mapping the way to the 21st century.