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MnGeo maps out its new course

July 17, 2012

Minnesota’s Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo) is mapping out new course with a new leader, Dan Ross, and new status as a division of MN.IT Services. 

As part of the recent consolidation of IT in the State’s executive branch, the office, which coordinates GIS within Minnesota, transferred from the Department of Administration to MN.IT Services (formerly the Office of Enterprise Technology) on July 1. No spatial move is associated with the transfer; the 15-person staff will remain on the third floor in the Centennial Office Building. 

In late May, Ross stepped into the position of Chief Geospatial Information Officer, vacated by the now-retired David Arbeit. Ross’s career at the State spans 18 years. His former post at the Department of Transportation was in executive management, and stemmed from a long history in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This combo of experience plus an agency-based perspective made him well-suited to head the office.  

“When I met Dan,” said Chris Buse, MN.IT’s Assistant Commissioner for IT Standards and Risk Management, “I knew immediately that we had found a leader with the perfect mix of technical and managerial skills. His broad experience leading IT areas in a major government agency will also be extremely beneficial as we now put in place plans to bring MnGeo to the next level.”

The transition for the office and the Chief Geospatial Information Officer position is well-timed with IT consolidation, Ross said. “I think there can also be some GIS consolidation in the state,” Ross said, noting that many agencies, councils and workgroups centered on GIS already have strong working relationships. “There is a strong sense of collaboration already happening in the GIS community, and there has been for many years. I’d like to develop a more collaborative approach for MnGeo as a division of MN.IT Services, so we can move forward, together, as a state.”

MnGeo’s core services include coordination, outreach and communication involving geospatial-related data and technology – aerial imagery, for instance. The office also provides data services and web services as part of its technical infrastructure, such as geocoding, or mapping to addresses. Services provided by MnGeo also include training, consulting, and project support. 

Ross said he expects that some of MnGeo’s services will change. His staff will be looking at specific ways to reorganize services. This work will also involve resource modeling, or taking stock of GIS resources and tools at agencies around the State. Ross noted that GIS may benefit from shared services and moving some of its work to the cloud. 

In the coming months, MnGeo’s strategic plan will also be updated and a new tactical plan will be created.