By Erin Dudley
The Geospatial Data Act (GDA) was signed into law, Oct. 5, 2018, and recognizes geospatial data as a critical component of the national infrastructure and economy. GDA identifies the Department of State as one of 16 covered agencies, thus requiring the Department to meet 13 responsibilities specified in the Act. As part of meeting GDA compliance, the Department published its first Geospatial Data Strategy (GDS) in September 2021. The Department’s geographer, residing in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, was designated as the senior agency official for geospatial information and leads the newly established Geospatial Data Act Working Group, formed under the auspices of the Department’s Enterprise Data Council.
The GDS establishes actionable goals and objectives that will expand the effective use of geospatial data and technologies across the Department. It is a living document—developed in conjunction with geospatial data users and stakeholders throughout the Department—that provides a foundational roadmap for the application, growth, maturation, and stewardship of geospatial data and analysis to support the Department’s varied missions.
The three-year vision of the GDS includes four strategic goals and 13 objectives. The goals include: increasing geospatial data sharing and accessibility; ensuring reliable geospatial data and tools for visualization and analysis; developing foundational geospatial data awareness to promote a sustained geospatial workforce; and developing a repeatable geospatial data reporting structure to meet statutory and policy requirements of the GDA.
The GDS provides a framework to improve collaboration across agencies, increase efficiency of operations, decision-making, and transparency, and provides a reporting mechanism for the Department’s investments in geospatial data. The GDS was written to complement the Department’s Enterprise Data Strategy (EDS) and contains crosswalk tables that align the goals and objectives of these two strategic documents. Learn more about GDS on the Department’s website, and more about EDS here.
Erin Dudley a geographic information system data strategist in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research’s Office of the Geographer and Global Issues.