2017 Presidents Letter

22 February 2017


Dear PaMAGIC Members and Friends,

This past year has been one of transition for PaMAGIC.  With the ongoing work of the State Geospatial Coordinating Board (Geoboard) and preparation for Next Generation 911, some big (and hopefully positive) changes are on the horizon for Pennsylvania.

PaMAGIC has a voting seat on the Geoboard.  So you have a seat on the Geoboard!  Dave Gilbert, PaMAGIC’s Geoboard representative, has prepared a summary of Geoboard activities on the following pages.  We invite you to get involved with the Geoboard!   If you’re interested, please contact Dave.  

PaMAGIC is also in the process of developing a new website.  The site will be mobile-friendly and have a modern design.  It will also have a members-only section, with the ability to search the membership database.  To make this successful, our members will need to complete their profiles.  The database will only be as good as the data it contains.  We’ll be sending out an announcement when the new site launches.  

PaMAGIC is also looking back to our roots and creating Regional Activity Centers (RACs).  These will provide the opportunity for members to connect with each other, grow professionally, and learn about GIS happenings in their corner of Pennsylvania.  There are groups in southwest PA (Pittsburgh area), the capital region (Harrisburg area), and southeast PA (suburban Philadelphia).  If you are interested in connecting with one of these groups, want to kick-off a group in another part of PA, or help out in another way, please contact one of the board members.  We have loosely grouped members into regions.  However, you can participate in whatever group you want.  You can even be involved in multiple groups.  The link to a working web map of members and associated regions can be found on the next page. 

It’s also a good time to remind everyone that PaMAGIC offers free membership to college students.  Students can register at http://www.123contactform.com/form-1620657/PaMAGIC-Student-Membership-Registration.  And speaking of students, we have been involved in getting the state of Pennsylvania connected with a national Story Maps competition for high school and middle school students.  We are looking for volunteers for a high school and middle school judging panel.  If you’re interested in helping with that, please contact Christine Iksic.  A link with information about the competition is on the following page.

We are also accepting nominations for PaMAGIC board members.  The annual elections will be occurring in May.  If you’re interested in serving on the board, or know someone who would be a great fit, please let one of the board members know!

 Lastly, we wanted to provide an update on the Water Data Initiative.  It’s in the fourth year and is making slow, steady progress in defining and promoting integrated water data and more accurate base mapping. We completed a USGS-supported pilot project last year and recently held our third Annual Hydrography Workshop, and are forming a Technical Workgroup to expand our activities. Contact Eric Jespersen or Mike Bialousz to get involved.  Project reports and meeting summaries are available at http://www.pamagic.org/initiatives/Pages/WaterData.aspx.

While the yearly dues help us out, what we truly value is your involvement.  And there are many ways to get involved! See you at the PA GIS Conference and the Annual InfoSwap!

This is a good time to renew or join for the first time. Help us help each other!



Patrick McKinney, President 2016-2017


Websites & Social Media Channels



Update on the Pennsylvania GeoSpatial Coordinating Board

PAMAGIC is a voting member of the GeoSpatial Coordinating Board for Pennsylvania.   As a PAMAGIC member you have a ‘say’ in what the Board will discuss and advise the Governor on Geospatial matters.   So what has the Board accomplished in the past year and how do you become involved?  

The Board began holding quarterly meetings in 2016 and made several significant first-steps in establishing operations.   Sub task forces were formed which included Governance, Service Delivery and Data.      A brief survey of the geospatial community was conducted to gain initial feedback of needs.  A list of desired geospatial layers was composed that will become the new Pennsylvania Base Map moving forward.  And a Strategic Plan was initiated which helped to define the mission and goals of the organization. 

GeoBoard Mission:   Provide advice and recommendations to the Governor and the public on geospatial issues, uniform data standards, coordination and efficiency in geospatial policy, and technology across different sectors.

Key Success Factors: Sustainable funding, coordinated investment and prioritization, performance assessment, and quantifiable outcomes.

The Strategic Plan is currently being developed and will be completed before this year’s PA GIS Conference in State College.  On-going data collection efforts at PEMA are being set to complement the goals of the Geoboard in terms of data capture and distribution of geospatial investments.  The high level tasks that are set to be completed in 2017 include:

  • Complete the GeoBoard GIS Strategic Plan
  • Supporting PEMA’s upcoming remote sensing procurement preparation
  • Identify authoritative spatial data layers and their stewards supporting the Core Basemap Themes
  • Decide approach to resolving local municipal boundary discrepancies
  • Define a single data sharing agreement that can be utilized throughout PA
  • Determine a strategy for coordinated funding of statewide GIS programs
  • Define the strategy for leveraging cloud-based services

    Implement the GIS Governance Framework

  • Continue outreach and education at industry events 

What has not been accomplished yet at the GeoBoard is development of operational procedures that will determine how the Board will initiate, vet and decide on new topics or issues that are brought before the organization.  PAMAGIC submitted a number of discussion topics in 2016 based on membership input and many of the topics were discussed (at least in part) due to the direction of the Board in the past year.  However, other topics were left un-vetted and with no clear path for resolution.    PAMAGIC will encourage the Board to establish a more-clear path for vetting issues so that each representative organization will know that their voice will be heard at the table. 

This is where you – as a PAMAGIC member -  come in.   Your involvement at any level is appreciated and encouraged.  If there are topics of discussion that you believe should be brought before the Board, we want to hear from you.  Your involvement of researching these topics and presenting the information to the PAMAGIC Board is encouraged.  Where do you stand on the use of UAVs?   Should GIS be a recognized employment category at the state and local level?  Do you have all the data you need to do your job?   As a PAMAGIC member, you have a voice.  Let’s hear from you!    Begin by Liking PAMAGIC on Facebook or joining our Blog.   Send us your ideas or contact any of the Board members or PAMAGIC’s GeoBoard Representative to help define the future of GIS in Pennsylvania. 



The PaMAGIC Board of Directors represents a geographic and sectoral cross-section of the GIS Community of Pennsylvania. They are typically active members, serve three year terms, meet in conference call about every two weeks, and are also active in other professional associations. Those associations and diverse interests inform discussion and decision-making. Contact them and see how you might contribute.

Consider serving on the Board; elections are held at the Annual PA GIS Conference in May/June.


  • Patrick McKinney                    Term: 2014-2017         President; Capital Region RAC
  • Cumberland County GIS
  • pmckinney@ccpa.net


  • Wade Gobrecht                                    Term: 2015-2018         Vice President; Student Membership Chair
  • York County Planning Commission
  • wgobrecht@ycpc.org


  • Mike Bialousz                          Term: 2016-2019         Secretary
  • Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • mbialousz@pa.gov



  • Tom Denton                            Term: 2014-2017         Treasurer; Southeast PA RAC
  • Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • tdenton@archphila.org


  • Tom Edinger                            Term: 2015-2018        
  • Tri-County Regional Planning Commission
  • tedinger@tcrpc-pa.org


  • Christine Iksic                          Term: 2016-2019         Southwest PA RAC     
  • Precision Laser & Instrument, Inc.
  • cmi@laserinst.com


  • Eric Jespersen                          Term: 2016-2019        
  • Analyst
  • ecj@epix.net


  • Noemi Mendez Eliasen                        Term: 2014-2017        
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • Noemi.mendez@census.gov


  • Glenn Mohler                          Term: 2015-2018         Website/Blog  
  • Lancaster County GIS
  • mohler@co.lancaster.pa.us


  • Dave Gilbert                            Term: 2015-2018         Geoboard Representative (non-board)
  • GeoDecisions
  • dgilbert@geodecisions.com