Wilson Center to Discuss FCC National Broadband Map

One of the most compelling recent success stories for open-source geospatial tools in the Federal Government has been the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) National Broadband Map initiative. It has been a very visible example of the stability, scalability, flexibility, and power of open-source geospatial tools.

The Woodrow Wilson Center will be hosting a case study of National Broadband Map on October 15th, 2012. The event’s page also includes a link to the full paper (PDF), authored by Zachary Bastian of the Wilson Center and Michael Byrne of the FCC.

The full paper, in my opinion, is recommended reading for anyone working with geospatial technologies in the government space. While the Broadband Map has rightfully garnered significant attention based upon its success, especially in terms of performance and scalability, the paper does a good job of reminding us that the map is not an end goal in itself, but a step toward the larger policy goal of expanding broadband access. The paper does an excellent job of illustrating how top-level policy goals were broken down into actionable parts that resulted in a concrete product such as the Broadband Map. In so doing, it walks us through the introduction and fostering of an open culture within the FCC that resulted not only in the Broadband Map but also in the development of open APIs and the availability of FCC tools as open-source projects themselves.

In its conclusions, the paper also makes compelling observations about the power of focused policy goals to drive the use of technology standing in stark contrast to generic overarching technical policies, such as the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) which are disconnected from specific policy goals and achieve little traction.

If you are interested not only in geospatial technologies, but also the link between policy and technology implementation, and the cultural change that can be brought about by open-source technologies, you should consider attending the event at the Wilson Center on the 15th. While not a universal blueprint, the National Broadband Map makes a compelling case study.

FCC Open-Sources MapBox Module for Drupal

See the FCC announcement here.

MapBox has been winning a lot of high-profile converts lately, such as Foursquare. In my opinion, it’s one of the more perfect web mapping solutions, commercial or open-source, to come along in a while. The combination of cartographic engine (Mapnik), tile generation (TileMill) and storage (MBTiles) make MapBox one of the most elegant ways to serve beautiful maps currently available. Continue reading “FCC Open-Sources MapBox Module for Drupal”

FCC Broadband Map Featured by CBS

Michael Byrne of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave a really good talk at FOSS4G, telling the story of the FCC National Broadband Map application, which is built on open-source geospatial tools. In addition to being open-source, it’s a modern web system that makes diligent use of caching and other techniques to achieve great performance. I do a lot of work in the Federal space and, in my opinion, it’s one of best public-facing Federal web tools deployed in recent memory.

FCC National Broadband Map

CBS News, in discussing a new $4.5 billion broadband fund by the FCC, features a nice screenshot of the system. It’s nice to see good work and innovation get recognized. Michael and his team should be proud.