In the early 1990s, states and the federal government were increasingly interested in creating a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), whereby the geographic information of daily operations would be shared, updated and combined to understand regional quality of life issues more rapidly. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) was the steward on behalf of the federal Office of Management and Budget of coordinating the development and implementation of open NSDI interoperability standards. Beginning in 1995, Urban Logic undertook research for the FGDC to understand and leverage the economics of coordinated investments in geospatial information.

With the encouragement of the Clinton-Gore Reinventing Government Team and FGDC, in 1999, Urban Logic briefed agencies at the White House Conference Center and testified before Congress, at what was thought to be the first Congressional Oversight Hearing on geospatial information investment policy.

Urban Logic’s reports for FGDC, EPA and USGS renewed interest and commitment by OMB to fund coordinated investments in interoperable geospatial data and web services. For example, with Urban Logic as chief architect, the OMB created the 49-state I-Team Initiative so as to enlist commitments from state and local partners to co-invest in interoperable geospatial data and web services. Under the Freedom of Information Act, such data typically would become freely available to the public, thus ushering in a commercial era of high-value geographic positioning satellite (GPS) navigation services, and geospatial information tools like Google Earth and Google Maps.

Urban Logic’s financing and organizational contributions to the NSDI’s implementation were shared in 2002 with the European Commission’s INSPIRE Initiative, the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) and as an example of public-private partnerships for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, a Consulting Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979), and is licensed as a lawyer in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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