It's MAGIC! An Update on the MidAmerica GIS Consortium

March 7, 2014

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I’ve been participating in the MidAmerica GIS Consortium (MAGIC) for over a decade. I met the MAGIC leadership when I attended the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) annual meeting in Park City, Utah in 2002.   It was during that time with colleagues at NSGIC that my convictions regarding the significance of efforts to collaborate and move the issues of the geospatial community forward jelled and propelled me to remain engaged.  I found a community of volunteers in MAGIC that was rich in a culture of collaboration and success.

The organization represents nine states:  Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.  Its assets are used to secure conference facilities, provide varied workshop and educational sessions, and support member states with speakers and modest grants.

In addition to sponsoring the biennial MidAmerica GIS Symposium, the Consortium also sponsors important GIS projects around the region. Projects can be industry specific, such as emergency management, remote sensing and addressing, or they can be related to GIS policy, standards and architecture.

MAGIC focuses on:

  • Establishing linkages between GIS users with similar application interests
  • Facilitating communication and data sharing across levels of government and between government, industry and academia
  • Promoting spatial data standards and modernization of land records
  • Promoting collaboration and advancement of geospatial technologies

MAGIC Sponsors Workshops and Grants

During 2012-2013, there were three significant sponsorship efforts to benefit MAGIC member states: the MAGIC State GIS Clearinghouse Summit, the MAGIC GIS and E911 Seminar, and the MAGIC Consortium Grants.

GIS Clearinghouse Summit:  The 8th annual MAGIC State GIS Clearinghouse Summit was held in Bismarck, North Dakota on August 28-29, 2013.  The retreat provided an opportunity for each state GIS program to discuss issues related to clearinghouse operations.  The retreat is hosted by a different state each year, with the goal of holding the event in all of the MAGIC region states. MAGIC provides travel assistance for two representatives from each state.  Each state provides an update on its clearinghouse activities.  Additional agenda items were:  a USGS initiatives update, a presentation on open records and data sharing, a series of lightning talks, a session on open-source GIS software, and roundtable discussions on unmanned aerial systems, and NextGen 911.  Participants reviewed activities conducted over the past year and discussed strategic goals for the coming year.  All presentations are posted to the MAGIC website. 

GIS and E911 Seminar:  The first MAGIC-sponsored GIS and E911 Seminar was held May 29, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri at Washington University.  This workshop provided opportunities for local professionals responsible for updating 911 systems and GIS data to build the foundation for understanding GIS requirements, roles and standards for 911 systems moving to a next-generation 911 system.  A total of 77 attendees from six member states participated.  MAGIC provided some housing assistance and coordination with the conference hotel; Washington University provided the classroom and parking; Geo-Comm provided time and transportation for one instructor; St. Clair County, Il 911 provided time for the second instructor.

MAGIC Consortium Grants:  Every two years, MAGIC sponsors grants to benefit member state organizations.  MAGIC grant proposals are scored by a subcommittee using well-established criteria on how the project fits into the goals and mission of MAGIC, how it will benefit the MAGIC region as a whole, how the project results will be shared with the public, and whether the information could be applicable to similar programs in other states.  After a lengthy review of 19 submissions, three were awarded grants:

  • $5,000 to Washington University, St. Louis to create "Neighborhood Data Gateway:  Expanding Strength-Based Market Data to a Bi-State Region" in partnership with Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance. The data will be open and available to public via an interactive website
  • $5,000 to the Arkansas Geographic Information Office for its project, “Arkansas Master Address Program (AMAP) – GIS Training of Local Address Authorities,” an ongoing effort to compile a statewide physical address point file within the local government business model.  This will ensure that all local addressing authorities are creating and maintaining physical addresses within a standardized GIS environment as published by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).
  • $3,200 to the Iowa Geographic Information Council, for its project titled, “Can GIS Cure the Common Cold?” This project will provide an extensive phone survey about GIS use by regional public healthcare departments; a two-day workshop on use, interpretation and analysis of GIS maps (using healthcare attributes); and a MAGIC plan for fostering use of GIS by regional, state and local public healthcare departments, including sessions on GIS in public healthcare at the 2014 MAGIC conference.

The MAGIC Consortium is an all volunteer organization and a non-profit 3C501. The MAGIC bylaws state its purpose: The goals of the MidAmerica GIS Consortium are to:  provide educational opportunities for practitioners in the Midwest; provide an environment that encourages collaboration and communication among members and other organizations; provide a setting for positive cultural change regarding GIS development, maintenance, and usage through development and dissemination of best practices and other initiatives.

Key to MAGIC’s success is the passion of its volunteers.  MAGIC recognizes Ivan Weichert, who retired as the Kansas Geographic Information Officer in January 2014, for his countless hours of service. Weichert served for many years as the Consortium’s secretary and historian and also served on various symposium planning committees. Additionally, his tenure as president of, and his involvement in, National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) provided a mechanism to bring mid-America issues into the national spotlight.

MAGIC 2014 will be held April 27 - May 1, 2014 at the Westin Crown Center, Kansas City, Mo.


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