Regional organizations provide an important vehicle to coordinate GIS activities among all levels of government in Minnesota. To learn more about these organizations, the Governor’s Council on Geographic Information sponsored a forum devoted to “Models for Regional Collaboration” at its May 16, 2007 meeting in St. Cloud.
The forum provided an opportunity to share ideas and experiences about regional coordination and to provide guidance to the state’s efforts to develop a statewide strategy for GIS coordination.
Seven panelists represented the following groups:
Arrowhead Regional Development Commission: John Chell
Central Minnesota GIS Users Group: Pete Knutson
Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan GIS Committee: Mark Sloan
A lively discussion followed between the panelists and the audience. Key points made were:
Many different models are working across the state. There is no need to settle on one.
Collaboration requires a cultural change of looking beyond one’s borders to work for the greater public good.
Choosing a project that will quickly provide benefits to the collaborators will strengthen the commitment to the effort.
High level policy makers must be included in collaboration efforts to increase the clout to get things to happen.
The focus must be on public services and business needs and how GIS/IT helps provide those services.
Any efforts to foster and coordinate GIS activities should be tied to a technology strategic plan, not just a GIS plan.
The benefits of GIS need to get to “non-users groups” as well as users groups.
Any collaboration needs resources. The apparent resources include outside grants and contracts, energetic volunteers, and government bodies working to meet their own business needs.
Some level of sustainable state funding is required to provide a level playing field.
Smaller, less developed places are looking for state leadership that will help them move forward without making major mistakes.
It would help to have regional integrators as connectors between the state and local levels, but it is not clear what the regional entities would be.
Data sharing requires standards and metadata.
There was consensus that discussions should continue and that we should work towards acceptable state-wide collaboration models.
For more detail about the discussion and about a related presentation on “Natural Resources Inventory Collaboration” by Mark Hauck of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, see the meeting minutes: http://www.gis.state.mn.us/Minutes/gn_07may.pdf
The Council would like to express its appreciation to Pete Knutsen at Stearns County for hosting the meeting and to all the presenters for their active participation and insights.