At the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) Mid-Year Meeting in Annapolis, Maryland this week, New Hampshire's Adjutant General Major General William Reddel described the challenge that he has informing decision-maker about the applications and importance of geospatial technology. Reddel serves as Military Chief of Staff to the Governor and is the Executive Head of the Adjutant General's (AG) department. In his position, he oversees all aspects of the AG's department, which includes Army and Air National Guard and the New Hampshire Veteran's Cemetery.
"Not everybody gets geospatial technology … We need to come up with one message for decision makers: "Location enabled decision support," said Reddel. He described the dilemma of a basic perceived value about geospatial technology and its applications. "Most of the time our leaders never know what questions to ask because they never got to the knowledge part," he said. "The geospatial thinking revolution has begun and geospatial thinking is both a science and an art."
Reddel monitors and sometimes coordinates statewide efforts regarding emergency management and response, especially during natural disasters. However, he is acutely aware that local jurisdictions have most of the data and may also have the expertise that he requires to do his job. He wants to find the local governments that do their job particularly well and then support them to articulate best practices to other communities thus building upon that foundation of expert GIS users. He advocates finding those standards and architecture that can support his mission and knows very well that the real goal is better interoperability. "We've got to stop the redundancy of effort; look at what we have and expand the power of the tools that we have and work with each other to find the solution," he said.
In extolling the need for the state GIS representatives to continue their mission Reddel said, "The American people will judge you by three things: did you save my life; did you reduce human suffering; did you protect my property." Reddel is aware of the applicability of GIS to emergency situations and is keen to see it used as effectively as possible. "If we can't deploy people within the first 72 hours during an emergency or big disasters ... it's looks really bleak," he said in referring to the ability to save people who are in life threatening situations.
Reddel was somewhat frustrated that the focus at times seems too centered at the federal government level. "We're spending too much money at the federal level; and we should be spending money at the state level, he said. "T here are a few of us that get it and we really need you guys [NSGIC state coordinators] to pile on. Reddel wrapped up his comments by highlighting that Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley was probably one of the most progressive governors in geospatial thinking.