Academic journal article URISA Journal

Minnesota MetroGIS Geospatial Data Collaborative Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area (2002-Enterprise System)

Academic journal article URISA Journal

Minnesota MetroGIS Geospatial Data Collaborative Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area (2002-Enterprise System)

Article excerpt

System Summary

MetroGIS provides an unprecedented and effective system for collaboration between the geospatial data-producer and user communities to assemble, document, and distribute geospatial data commonly used by the more than 300 local and regional government units serving the seven-county Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Its purpose and operations have, from the outset, recognized, refined, and implemented concepts fundamental to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), in particular, the "area integrator" and "skyline" concepts.

MetroGIS, a voluntary organizational system founded in 1996, provides an effective forum to identify common geodatarelated needs, collectively define organizational and technical solutions needed to address those needs, and share geodata knowledge. MetroGIS has no legal standing and, as such, cannot own data, hire staff, or finance projects. It relies on its stakeholder organizations to develop and maintain all data, develop and support data-distribution tools, and finance its staff and project needs.

The key to MetroGIS's ability to accomplish institutional changes needed to achieve the vision of both the MetroGIS community and its component of the NSDI is its unconventional organizational structure. The policy board is comprised of 12 elected officials who represent 1 of 5 core local and regional government communities--counties, cities, school districts, watershed districts, and regional government. These members are appointed by their respective communities to the voluntary board, which has no formal legal standing.

The policy board is supported by a 25-member coordinating committee. The committee provides a forum to discuss MetroGIS design, implementation, and operations. It defines goals and issues for strategic work groups, and makes recommendations to the policy board. Its members come from the gamut of public, academic, private, nonprofit, and for-profit stakeholders of MetroGIS.

MetroGIS has been successful because it focuses on both technology and building interorganizational relationships, and it raises issues to a level of public purpose. This structure and all its forums ensure that "all relevant and affected interests are involved, dominated by none." At the outset, participants recognized that conventional hierarchical, command-and-control structures would be capable of neither building and maintaining the trust relationships needed to bring all essential participants to the table nor of overcoming fears of "hidden agendas."

Among MetroGIS's most notable accomplishments are the following:

* Agreement on 13 priority common-information needs and involvement of hundreds of stakeholders in participatory processes that led to collaborative solutions to meet these needs.

* Nine regional data sets and the implementation of accompanying custodial responsibilities. Two of these regional solutions--parcels and planned-land use--are believed to be unprecedented in their complexity and extent (see

* State-of-the-art, Internet-based data-distribution mechanism, the portal to which--MetroGIS DataFinder (http://www. a registered node of the NSDI (see distribution).

* Grand prizewinner of the ESRI/National Geographic 2001 International Geography Network Challenge for use of Web Mapping Service (WMS) technology (http://www.

* Successfully implemented NSDI's "area integrator" concept at the substate level; the State of Minnesota is following suit using guiding principles developed by MetroGIS.

* Testified before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives at a special session held in conjunction with the 1999 National Geodata Forum.

* Two exemplary GIS project awards from Minnesota Governor's Council on Geographic Information. …

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