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Teams > Policy Board

March 25, 1998 Minutes


Chairperson Reinhardt called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. The meeting was held at the Metropolitan Council's Mears Park facility in St. Paul.

Board Members Present: Association of Metropolitan Municipalities: Terry Schneider (Minnetonka) and Alternate Donn Wiski (Roseville); Counties: Dennis Berg (Anoka); John Siegfried (Carver); Victoria Reinhardt (Ramsey); and Dennis Hegberg (Washington); Metro Chapter of MN Association of Watershed Districts: Conrad Fiskness (Riley- Purgatory-Bluff Creek Watershed District); Metropolitan Council: Alternate Richard Johnson; Technology Information Education Services (TIES): Thomas Halvorson (Bloomington School District).

Board Members Absent: Counties: Don Maher (Dakota); Randy Johnson (Hennepin); and Edwin Mackie (Scott); Metropolitan Council: Bill Schreiber.

Coordinating Committee Members Present: Data Access Advisory Team Liaisons: Jim Sydow (TIES) and Rick Gelbmann (Metropolitan Council); Data Content Advisory Team Liaisons: David Claypool (Ramsey County) and Will Craig (U of M – CURA); Policy Advisory Team: Margo LaBau (Anoka County); Standards Advisory Team: Ron Wencl (USGS); Chairperson-Coordinating Committee: David Arbeit (LMIC); Vice Chairperson-Coordinating Committee: Brad Henry (Minneapolis); Gary Stevenson (Dakota County); and Patrick O’Connor (Hennepin County).

Visitors: Chuck Ballentine (Metropolitan Council)

Support Staff: Randall Johnson.


MOTION: Member Schneider motioned and Member Fiskness seconded to approve the agenda as submitted. Motion carried unanimously.

3. ACCEPT MEETING MINUTES MOTION: Member Siegfried motioned and Vice-Chairperson Berg seconded to approve the minutes for the Board's January 28, 1998 meeting, as submitted. Motion carried unanimously.

Alternate Member Wiski arrived.


4a. MetroGIS Participant Satisfaction Survey

Margo Labau, Chair of the Policy Advisory Team, presented an update of the preliminary survey findings she presented to the Board on January 28th. She summarized the results of a number of questions and stated overall, respondents feel good about what is happening with MetroGIS. A number of written program improvement suggestions or needs were received. Ms. LaBau informed the Board that the Coordinating Committee has asked the Policy Advisory Team to look into these comments and suggest program improvements, as appropriate. The findings of most note are as follows.

The low number of responses from the Access and Content Advisory Team members can, to some extent, be explained in that some of the persons invited to participate on these teams have never been active but have been retained on the team rosters. The Policy Advisory Team will look into instituting a "graceful exit policy" to rejuvenate these teams with new and interested members. Ms. LaBau also speculated that a perceived lack of focus/weak leadership, lack of clear expectations, lack of a clear understanding of how the members and their work fits in, and possibly a sense of too much bureaucracy also have contributed to the low response rate for these teams.

In addition to instituting a "graceful exit policy"; the Policy Advisory Team will be looking into ways to improve communication between the Advisory Teams and the Board and Coordinating Committee; clarify team expectations; clarify team chair and liaison responsibilities, and implement ways to simplify staff’s support of the advisory teams; Coordinating Committee and Policy Board, including more use of e-mail and faxing versus mailings. The Policy Advisory Team and Coordinating Committee will also continue their work to define long term funding and structure options for MetroGIS, identify ways the public and private sectors can collaborate to achieve MetroGIS objectives, and modify the work program to address participant expectations for the coming year.

Board members commented that a theme among many of the comments appears to be some frustration that Team member expectations are not being met and the process is taking longer than Team members would prefer. Ms. LaBau explained most of these concerns were offered by technically oriented people but acknowledged that administrative-oriented people are also beginning to raise these concerns.

The group acknowledged the value of the survey and agreed that everyone who was sent one should be informed of the results and provided with a summary of what will be done to address identified concerns. The Committee was also encouraged to resurvey participants on a regular basis and to use a format that provides a way to evaluate whether the respondents perceive an improvement since the previous survey (e.g. here are the concerns we believe you raised in the previous survey, here are the program modification we made, do you believe they were effective?)

Member Siegfried mentioned that more Board member interaction with Advisory Teams and the Committee members may be an another option to improve communication and to talk with Team members about how their work is being used to solve problems. Staff agreed to provide Board members with an updated list of the membership of Advisory Team. Member Siegfried also mentioned that a short synopsis of what has been accomplished and what remains to be accomplished would be helpful to him.

Member Hegberg arrived.

4b. Revised MetroGIS Financing Proposal For 1999

Richard Johnson, Associate Regional Administrator with the Metropolitan Council, noted staff had evaluated the potential of several supplemental funding sources as requested by the Policy Board and concluded that none was viable for 1999, except for the possibility a grant award. Two grant applications had been submitted, a copy of each was provided to each Board member.

Mr. Johnson stated that based on the examination of supplemental funding options and the Council’s objective to facilitate MetroGIS, 100 percent Council funding of a revised MetroGIS target budget of $375,000 is proposed for 1999. If a grant award were received, the funds would be over and above the funding proposed from the Council. He explained that Policy Board adoption is not sought at this time since it is early in the process. He expected to bring the matter back to the Board in the Fall. It was also clarified that the revised budget includes continuation of a newsletter as requested by the Coordinating Committee. Member Schneider suggested use of broadcast fax rather than printed newsletter to reduce costs and support.

Chairperson Reinhardt and the Board commended the authors of the grant applications, noting the applications are very professionally done, easy to understand, and contain very useful information about the objectives of MetroGIS.

Member Schneider noted, that although pleased with the grant applications, he remains concerned that identification of long term sustainable funding source for MetroGIS must remain a high priority. Vice-Chairperson Berg mentioned MetroGIS might qualify for funding from the Agricultural Preserve Surplus that he believes exists in each county. The group also discussed the possibility of enacting some form of the 1998 Deed Tax initiative by the 1999 Legislature. Patrick O’Connor, Coordinating Committee member and Hennepin County Auditor, stated that Hennepin County would be supporting this legislation next year. Chairperson Reinhardt stated that Ramsey County would also be supporting this legislation. The consensus was this legislation failed this session because it was too large of a change from current policy, involving a shift in the use of some $100 million in revenue.

4c. Election Of Policy Board Officers

Chairperson Reinhardt turned the meeting over to Vice-Chairperson Berg. Prior to accepting, Vice-Chairperson nominated Member Reinhardt to serve another term as Chairperson. Member Fiskness seconded. No other nominations were submitted. Vice-Chairperson Berg declared Member Reinhardt to be elected to serve as Chairperson through March 1999 by white ballot.

Vice-Chairperson Berg turned the meeting back to Chairperson Reinhardt.

Chairperson Reinhardt asked for nominations for Vice-Chairperson. Member Schneider nominated Member Berg. Member Siegfried seconded. No other nominations were submitted. Chairperson Reinhardt declared Member Berg to be elected to serve as Vice-Chairperson through March 1999 by white ballot.




6a. Demonstration Of MetroGIS Data Finder

Rick Gelbmann, Metropolitan Council GIS Coordinator and Coordinating Committee liaison to the Data Access Advisory Team, summarized the Data Finder project, including developing of the concept, retaining a consultant, and developing the prototype. A key design objective was to provide an easy tool to help users quickly determine overlaps and proximity of the jurisdictions, which is fundamental to facilitating data sharing.

Key points in Mr. Gelbmann’s presentation were as follows. Metadata is the foundation of Data Finder. Data Finder is an indexing tool by which users can search for data holdings and evaluate the usefulness of datasets for their specific needs. Links will be provided in the metadata to obtain the data, either electronically or by other means as the producer chooses. Data holdings will remain with the data producer, generally only the metadata will be located at the Data Finder site. Data producers will be responsible for determining if they want to participate. It will be the responsibility of the producers to submit metadata, decide the data types they want described and searchable from Data Finder, decide how the data will be accessed, and decide the type of security measures to be employed to guard against corruption of their data. An administrator would support data Finder. This person would be responsible for insuring that all metadata complies with standards before it is entered into the Data Finder database.

Tanya Mayer, GIS Specialist with the Metropolitan Council, demonstrated the features of Data Finder using a live link to the Data Finder website.

Security measures were mentioned that data producers could employ to guard against unauthorized access and to ensure that source data is not corrupted. Staff noted that funds are included in the approved 1998 and proposed 1999 budgets to populate Data Finder with metadata and to develop a geographic search capability. An individual would be hired to work with data producers to develop metadata for datasets of priority to MetroGIS, beginning with the spatial and parcel attribute data each county has agreed to share with other government through the Council’s GIS Data and Cost Sharing Agreement initiative.

Member Fiskness questioned how commitments would be obtained from all the various organizations to post and update metadata and to share their data. Staff responded that a process is in place (Business Information Needs Project) to address datasets of importance to MetroGIS. Other organizations would participate on a voluntary basis. The MetroGIS process is structured and includes designation of a custodian, agreement on custodian responsibilities, and development of guidelines and standards to insure integrity and currency of the datasets. Recommendations for the top two priority information needs should be presented for Policy Board consideration at the May 27th meeting. Posting and updating of metadata for other datasets will be at the discretion of data producers. Member Fiskness commented that it would behoove organizations to take advantage of Data Finder to reduce staff time involved in filling data requests and answering questions about their data holdings.

The group questioned how the availability of Data Finder will be advertised and how prospective participants will be educated on the importance of metadata. Mr. Gelbmann reported that Washington County has a pilot project in process to document a step-by-step process to guide development and maintenance of metadata. This document will be posted on the Web site and its use promoted. This pilot project is one of two pilots being undertaken by Washington County in conjunction with their Data and Cost Sharing Agreement with the Council. A second means of educating participants of the importance of metadata involves the plan to assign an individual to work directly with data producer staff to develop key metadata.

A question was also raised about how data from multiple sources will be aggregated. Mr. Gelbmann stated that he believes this will occur in two ways. First, the Metropolitan Council, and possibly other organizations with multi-county jurisdiction, will integrate locally produced data into a regional datasets they will then share with others (e.g.. the Council’s regional jurisdictional boundaries dataset). Another option is the development of applications that would allow participants to aggregate data from various sources when and for only the area they need (e.g., a school district comprised by portions of three counties). Mr. Gelbmann noted that that later option may be the only practical way to work with parcel boundaries given that technology is not mature enough to efficiently deal with one million parcels as a single dataset.

Chairperson Reinhardt thanked staff for the demonstration of Data Finder. Board members encouraged staff and the Coordinating Committee to demonstrate applications of technology relevant to MetroGIS. Jim Sydow, Coordinating Committee liaison to the Data Access Advisory Team and Team Chair, noted that the Access Team was charged with task of providing guidance to staff on this project. The Team, together with staff, defined a beginning and an end, met only when a decision was needed, and despite the low survey return rate by team members Mr. Sydow believes the Team and staff successfully carried out their responsibilities.

Member Fiskness asked how closure is brought to tasks such as this for the participants. Margo LaBau, Coordinating Committee liaison to the Policy Advisory Team and Team Chair, noted that thank you letters have been sent in some cases but that more attention to closure is needed. The Policy Team will consider ways to accomplish this at its next meeting.

6b. Dakota County Parcel Query Application

Gary Stevenson, Coordinating Committee member and Director of Surveying and Land Information for Dakota County, provided an on-line demonstration of a recently developed Internet-compatible application used to query parcel-based information. Dakota County GIS staff developed his application. It allows property record searches by owner name, address, and PIN. A map is displayed which includes property lines, lot dimensions, building footprints, driveways, and street edges. A table that includes a number of parcel attributes retrieved from the County’s database and maintained for property taxation accompanies the map. Mr. Stevenson also noted that Dakota County, the Lakeville School District, and TIES are collaborating to expand the application to include data maintained by school districts.

Vice-Chairperson Berg noted that Anoka County’s GIS does not have the capability to display property dimensions and asked how Dakota County captured this information. Mr. Stevenson explained that the dimensions are entered into the database as opposed to digitizing property lines from paper maps. David Claypool, Coordinating Committee member and Ramsey County Survey, explained that the data entry process (COGO) used by Dakota and Ramsey Counties results in the ability to display accurate property dimension data in the same manner for all parcels, regardless of the way the parcels were created (e.g. platted, metes and bounds, RLS). Vice-Chairperson Berg noted that Anoka County has assigned several staff to answer property information inquiries, primarily from the real estate community, and that an Internet based application like Dakota County’s could potentially reduce the county’s expenses to provide this information.


The Board was reminded that its next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, 1998.


Member Fiskness moved and Member Berg seconded to adjourn at 8:55 p.m. Motion carried unanimously.

Prepared by Randall Johnson, MetroGIS Staff Coordinator

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