Oh come on! ProPublica has a story out today "As Need for New Flood Maps Rises, Congress and Obama Cut Funding". This shows the absolute -- not to mention dangerous -- idiocy of our Federal legislators' feverish obsession with cutting the US budget. People, please, the US budget deficit is under control and shrinking faster than the CBO originally estimated. Meanwhile, our public infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes -- another bridge collapsed a few days ago, this time in WA -- and our emergency preparedness is in dire need of being updated. This is not the time for austerity (see Krugman, "How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled.").
The maps, drawn by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, dictate the monthly premiums millions of American households pay for flood insurance. They are also designed to give homeowners and buyers the latest understanding of how likely their communities are to flood.
The government’s response to the rising need for accurate maps? It’s slashed funding for them.
Congress has cut funding for updating flood maps by more than half since 2010, from $221 million down to $100 million this year. And the president’s latest budget request would slash funding for mapping even further to $84 million — a drop of 62 percent over the last four years.
In a little-noticed written response to questions from a congressional hearing, FEMA estimated the cuts would delay its map program by three to five years. The program “will continue to make progress, but more homeowners will rely on flood hazard maps that are not current,” FEMA wrote.
The cuts have slowed efforts to update flood maps across the country.
In New England, for instance, FEMA is updating coastal maps but has put off updating many flood maps along the region’s rivers, said Kerry Bogdan, a senior engineer with FEMA’s floodplain mapping program in Boston.
“Unfortunately, without the money to do it, we’re limited and our hands are kind of tied,” she said.
Many of the flood maps in Vermont — including areas near Lake Champlain that have recently flooded — are decades out of date. “There are definitely communities that really need that data,” said Ned Swanberg, the flood hazard mapping coordinator with Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Unfortunately, there was a technological glitch and I didn't get to finish my presentation on digital preservation at the 2013 House Legislative Data and Transparency conference. I've attached my presentation notes (PDF) in case anyone is interested. I'd be interested to hear comments.
The 2nd annual House Legislative Data and Transparency conference is now streaming live. Here's the agenda and speaker bios for the conference. Note that I'll be on a panel on digital preservation at 2pm eastern/11am pacific with Lisa LaPlant from GPO and Marc Levitt, Byrd Center for Legislative Studies. Should be fun :-)
Not Your Grandfather's Web Any More, a project briefing from the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) spring 2013 member meeting by David S.H. Rosenthal of LOCKSS and Kris Carpenter Negulescu of the Internet Archive, is now available on CNI's video channels:
What are the practical and theoretical archiving problems posed by the newer parts of the Web, like social media, scientific workflows and Web services? How can the challenges of these latest developments be met, if at all? This presentation reports on the results of a workshop held at the Library of Congress under the auspices of the International Internet Preservation Consortium, where practitioners of Web archiving reviewed these questions. More information about this talk, including presentation slides, is available on the CNI site.
Happening now: Webcast on Public Access to Federally-Supported Research and Development Data and PublicationsSubmitted by jrjacobs on Tue, 2013-05-14 10:10.
The webcast for public comments on Public Access to Federally Supported R&D is happening today and tomorrow (14 – 15 May 2013), starting at 9:00 a.m EST. Here's the agenda and already-submitted written statements. In a few days, the video archives from the webcast will also be available (same URL), and eventually the full transcript of the meeting will also be found on the same page. Check it out. It's heartening to hear so many scholars, academics, policy wonks etc coming out in support of open access to scientific information and data.
This message is just a reminder that the Public Comment meeting on Public Access to Federally Supported R&D: Publications will occur tomorrow and Wednesday (14 – 15 May 2013), starting at 9:00 a.m. The agenda is attached.
The link to the webcast is on the front page of the agenda, but here it is again: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/DBASSE_083052
If you are interested, the written statements that were received as part of the registration process can also be downloaded from a link on that page. In a few days, the video archives from the webcast will also be available (same URL), and eventually the full transcript of the meeting will also be found on the same page.
We look forward to seeing all of you who will attend in person, and hope that those who watch by webcast find it a useful meeting.
Meredith A Lane, PhD
Director, Board on Environmental Change and Society
Project Director, Committee on Population
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
National Research Council
Keck Center, 500 Fifth St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Over the last several years, the US Census (including the American Community Survey and the Statistical Abstract of the US) have been under attack -- see "Fear, uncertainty, or doubt? Why the Census and ACS are critical to a well-functioning democracy" and "OMB Watch on Census Cuts" for more context. Budgets and funding, only part of the problem mind you, have been the cause of closing down the Census Bureau's Statistical Compendia unit and ostensibly of the Census Bureau's recent plan to drop the question on "number of times married" from the American Community Survey (see the single sentence at the end of an otherwise harmless Federal Register notice of request for comments).
Social conservatives and others on the right/libertarian political spectrum have long worried about -- if not outright feared -- the collection of demographic and other statistics by the US government. So it should come as no surprise that there's a new bill working its way through the US House of Representatives. H.R. 1638: Census Reform Act of 2013: The bill would eliminate the Census of Agriculture, the Economic Census, Census of Government, any mid-decade Census surveys, and any survey (including the American Community Survey) using survey sampling that does not tie directly to the decennial census of population. The Bill was introduced in the House by Jeff Duncan of South Carolina.
Great news: now there's a digital archive to access the historically important "Freedom Summer", a seminal moment in the US civil rights movement. The Wisconsin Historical Society has just released the 1964 Freedom Summer Project. Not only are there 25,000 manuscripts and key documents, but there are finding aids to help users access the information and instructional materials for teachers.
We've just released an online collection of 25,000 manuscripts related to the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project. It's free and open to anyone for non-profit educational purposes at
Besides thousands of archival documents from COFO, CORE and SNCC and papers from dozens of individual activists, the site includes a downloadable Powerpoint about Freedom Summer and a PDF Sourcebook of key documents for teachers.
I'd be grateful if you'd forward this note to colleagues and educators who might be interested. As the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer approaches, we want teachers, students, historians, librarians, museum curators, the media, and anyone else to use these primary sources in their 50th anniversary programming.
We'll be adding a few thousand more pages this year, so please "like" us on Facebook and follow along:
Wisconsin Historical Society
For those of you that willl be in Washington DC next week, please consider attending the 2013 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference (RSVP required). There will be several interesting panels with House and external stakeholders like the Sunlight Foundation and the Cornell Legal Information Institute -- including a panel on electronic archiving and one on "missing data" and what to do about it ("missing" meaning not effectively on-line and digital, etc.).
The 2013 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference will take place on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium. The conference brings together legislative branch agencies with data users and transparency advocates to discuss the use and future of legislative data. Topics include:
--Electronic legislative archiving
--XML and metadata standards
--Updates on beta.congress.gov
Here's a reminder that we all have to be constantly diligent to make sure govt information continues to be freely available for the long term!
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the latest census data for free under a Creative Commons license but appears to be steering people towards a $250 mailed out DVD rather than making it easy to download the information directly over the internet.
I had a good time yesterday on a panel about Web archiving and digital preservation at the Society of California Archivists General meeting 2013 (slides to be posted there soon). The panel was organized by Scott Reed at the Internet Archive, and included Scott, Claude Zachary (University of Southern California), myself and my Stanford colleague Henry Lowood.
One of the coolest things -- other than the fascinating keynote by Dr. Michael Cohen, who talked about "Culture Wars: Engaging Undergraduates in Documenting the Crisis in California Through the Historian's Eye Project" -- was learning about the site archiveready.com. This is a handy little tool to test your Website's archivability. Paste in your url, and it goes through and checks things like standards compliance, accessibility, CSS, site maps, external media and proprietary objects like flash or quicktime, and lastly whether or not your site is already being collected by the Internet Archive's Wayback machine. Freegovinfo did pretty well in the test with an overall rating of 78%. We lost points for having some external images and external scripts (google analytics and a facebook badge), but I don't consider those things critical to the site for the long-term. How does your site do? Are you ready to be archived?!