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Invitation Letter

The USGS Office of Enterprise Information (OEI) EGIS  is re-architecting GIS technical support.  Thanks to numerous GIS experts volunteering throughout USGS, and coordination from OEI/EGIS, users requesting support will continue to receive the help they need.  OEI and the general GIS community are initiating discussions about the longer term plan for supporting and improving our Agency’s GIS capacity. Please join us for this GIS Community Kick-off meeting. The meeting will feature three parts: 1) description of the work that OEI/EGIS will continue to carry out and/or support, 2) introduction of a series of topics facing the GIS community, and 3) a discussion period.

Meeting details are below:

Date: Tuesday, 12/19/2017 Time: 1:30pm ET


Bridge: 703-648-4848 47919#

Participate on, event code #K814

Google Doc:

Presenters: Shane Wright (Office of Information / EGIS), Roland Viger (Water Mission Area/Branch of Geo-Intelligence)

Discussion Topics:

  • What will OEI/EGIS continue to do?

  • How will this change how I do GIS?

  • In the future, how do we handle support requests?

  • How do we handle communications (e.g., email lists)?

  • What resources do we have access to?

Given their experience setting up community of practice teams on various topics, the USGS Community for Data Integration has graciously agreed to help facilitate our discussions.

We’ve posted this email and additional details onto a wiki page (this page). Rather than replying to this email, please review and add comments or questions to the bottom of the wiki pages. Your input will help guide our meeting's conversations, so please post ahead of the meeting. If you press the “Watch” button at the top of the wiki page, you’ll get email when other folks post to the page so that you can  join the conversation. For those that can’t make the meeting time, we will post a recording of the discussion on these pages. We're trying to invite as many appropriate/interested folks as possible. The groups we've identified so far are listed on the wiki page. If you have ideas for other individuals or groups please specify them in the "Comments" section at the bottom of this page (and/or forward this note to them directly). We'll send out a reminder on Monday, December 18th and can add additional groups or individuals. 

Call-in Details/Invitees

The USGS Community for Data Integration has graciously agreed to help facilitate our discussions.

We're tryinig to invite as many appropriate/interested folks as possible. Here are the groups we've identified so far. If you have ideas for other individuals or groups please specify them in the "Comments" section at the bottom of this page (and/or forward this note to them directly). We'll send out a reminder on Monday, December 18th and can add additional groups or individuals. 


  • Mission Areas: 
    • WMA management:
    • selected CSS folks:


  • EGIS-funded technical and software support was reduced starting in fiscal year (FY) 2018.

    • It seemed like an appropriate time to re-architect how we support GIS to make use of the many resources and skills throughout USGS.

    • Technical and software support will be provided by a community of practice as it is being done in other areas.

    • Current help team members are listed here

    • Thanks to previous, existing and future volunteers!

    • Users can still gain access to ESRI for technical support by submitting questions through the EGIS support pages, with the help of authorized support staff.

Topics of conversation

  • Survey of Community needs and capacity

    • Has there been much of a survey of Centers about what our needs are for GIS support? How many individuals use ESRI products?  Open source? Desktop vs. Server?

    • Critical step to help define support requirements for GIS Community

  • There are a number of more local (e.g., individual Science Center- or Region-based) USGS GIS groups. Should we catalog/list them on wiki? Should we invite them? Cross-promote them? What about external GIS groups (other Fed, general interest, or professional groups)?

  • Support for new ESRI platform components

    • For a soon to arrive example, what happens when the shift to ArcGIS Pro occurs and ArcMap becomes obsolete? There will be a need for guidance on how to re-train folks to use Pro as well other new ELA-provided products. Should community incentivize moving to Pro to avoid supporting two platforms (Pro, Desktop) w/in USGS?

  • Cloud/HPC/HTC GIS

    • This is an area where new expertise would be invaluable across the USGS. We are working to develop these skills in-house in many centers, but are realizing the magnitude of IT experience needed just to understand the difference between these new platforms.  Doing GIS there is an additional investment, in terms of technology and re-tuning workflows, but this is way more than just a GIS problem.

    • Beyond technical concerns, there’s the business model, protocols and best practices that simply do not exist at an Agency level. It’s not apparent that these are under development, either. Discussions are needed!

  • Open source GIS

    • This is increasingly used by the GIS Community in small pockets. We should assess how important this is now and will be in the future, and plan accordingly.

  • Technical support forums and other communication tools

    • Email lists aren’t going away anytime soon

      • Is there a way for USGS employees to self-elect to be part of these communities? Might post write-up to wiki on how to join/quit groups, as well as listing them, and their respective purposes.

      • Should we market GIS Talk to a wider community since many (maybe even most) scientists use GIS to some extent?

      • Do we need another broadcast channel for more quasi-official notices, in case some folks want news but don’t want endless conversations via GIS Talk?

      • Is BisonConnect the tool we want for this? Other options, like Confluence email lists?

      • Can we do something better than COOL HELP? Please?

    • One obvious option is, or some other public GIS forum

      • Is functionality of a new platform worth the friction? Do we need to develop protocols for wise/FSP-conformant use? How do we educate our members about these?

      • Would there be drawbacks from an official/internal perspective? For all or which questions?

      • What policies apply regarding sharing things like code snippets or test data? Does the USGS policy on open-source software development cover this?   

  • No labels


  1. "anyone aware of equivalent group for R?"

    There is an "" list, mostly used for help, maintained by Laura DeCicco.

  2. As the Federal Liaison for the National Geospatial Program one of my primary duties is to participate in information exchanges related to geospatial programs with DOI bureaus and other Federal agencies. Would this this space be a place to disseminate information on geospatial related news and trends I learn at the various meetings and conferences I attend? Also, would it be appropriate for me that seek advise from this group on questions that come to my attention?

    If this makes sense I expect my contributions and questions to the group to be monthly at the most.

    Unfortunately, I am not available for the Dec 18th meeting.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Gita,

      As it stands right now, your best avenue, in terms of reaching the most geospatial users in one shot is GS GIS Talk Of course that is an email blast, spray and pray. Another idea, OEI publishes a monthly newsletter, geared toward the IT crowd, however I do add geospatial articles from time to time, but they might not reach the end users (example here This might be a good idea for the geospatial community, create a monthly/quarterly newsletter with various articles and topics. We could certainly use the egis website for a hub, or workout other details. Perhaps a volunteer could take on the coordination of this.

      With conference collaboration becoming fewer and farther between this might be a good way to engage the community and discover what others are doing…..Just a thought.

      1. My $0.02 is that yes, this is definitely a place to record and share any geospatial information with a wider group. The information here has no guarantee of any kind of OEI support, of course, but should be of potential interest to the community, or just a subset of it. In some cases, folks start a page for the benefit of a small, short-term working group but their content grows and ultimately evolves into more generally useful content. An example might be if some folks want to mess around with PostGIS for a bit. They might ultimately end up drafting instructions or best practice recommendations, or they might not like it or get pulled away from the topic. In the latter case, there's still a record that subsequent interested parties are able to pick up on, so the original experimentation wasn't a waste. In the former case, in addition to aiding the capacity-building of the original group, this could be a nice way for folks like OEI to learn about what's happening "in the trenches" on an ongoing basis. It all depends on how we want to use it. The benefit of this space over email is that it's a bit more persistent, readable, searchable, and modifiable relative to email--I see these pages as a nice complement to email lists (which might be used to call attention to new wiki posts, for example).

        How we can leverage this space and other resources is worth discussing during Tuesday's meetings. Also, we'll definitely be synthesizing all the input and news for the community after the New Year and expect to hold more discussions. In the meantime, feel free to bang away on these pages!


        P.S. Had to laugh at "spray and prey."

        1. Just caught the misspelling, oh well...should have had another cup of coffee.

          1. I hadn't even noticed the typo part! Too busy cackling (and also need more coffee, too). Possibly even funnier with it.

        2. Thank you Shane and Roland for your replies.  I will be curious to learn what comes out of the Dec 18 meeting. In the meantime, I think that I follow your suggestions and see where they go. Need to start somewhere.

          1. I agree, I would welcome the dissemination of geospatial news and information here. 

  3. I'd like to put my vote solidly in the open-source and open-documentation (i.e. StackOverflow and GIS.StackExchange.cov) camp. Many project-level scientists are already using scripted GIS solutions in R, Python (non-ESRI), and QGIS. Help is easily sought via looking at existing StackOverflow/ resources, or can be sought by asking a new question. Adding support for problems there (e.g. trouble-shooting a geopandas script), would be much appreciated. 

    Perhaps cc'ing the USGS gis-help email to a new StackExchange question would do the trick of 1) having internal support resources available to USGS scientists, 2) sharing our expertise and experience with the public, and 3) getting better answers for our users (i.e. me!), via the immense knowledge base of the StackExchange communities. Helping to grow these resources is certainly of immense public benefit, which, though my knowledge here is limited, would seem to fit our mission. Thanks for soliciting input. I love the wiki-format; much like StackOverflow.

  4. Just for a point of clarification, Topics of conversation, bullet three. Esri will continue to support ArcGIS Desktop for six years after the final release, so mid-2020’s, at least. That being said, almost all development will be geared toward Pro and Online products, users should become more familiar with these platforms. As for a couple of sources, USGS has unlimited access to Esri’s E-Learning platform (details here as well as the entire 2017 Esri User Conference technical recordings available here: ( ) Esri User Conference tab.

    1. Unknown User (

      For Esri's official support plans, see their Product life Cycle page:

      ArcMap/ArcObjects is not going away, as many customers (including USGS) have many applications built on that platform.

  5. This a copy of an email I sent to GS_GIS_Talk.

    Hello GS_GIS_Talk,

    If you are a user of imagery from the National Aerial Imagery Program (NAIP) this will information will be of interest.

    The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is considering a licensed data model for NAIP starting in FY19 which means that it would no longer be available from the public domain. FSA presented on this topic to the FGDC Coordination Group and the presentation is posted at

    Several federal agencies/bureaus have send in impact statements to FSA and some are still in work. The USGS National Geospatial Program sent a statement. NGP is a cost share partner in the program and a major user of NAIP. The National Map uses NAIP for its orthoimagery layer.

    A final decision on the future of the NAIP program will need to be made by May 1, 2018.

    If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

    Thank you,

    1. If you would like to provide feedback to FSA on their proposal please sent your statement to me ( by January 12 and I will consolidate to forward to FSA. Statements should emphasize projected cost and manpower impacts.