Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association


1. What is OneURISA?

First and foremost, OneURISA is a unified membership model that represents nearly 5 years of work by the Chapter Advisory Board and is designed to provide many benefits to individual members, chapters and URISA international. A key feature of the OneURISA model is that it empowers all our members, Chapter members and International members alike, by making them part of the same organization. Unfortunately, it is currently possible to be a member of a Chapter but not a member of URISA International or a member of URISA International but not a member of a Chapter. This causes us all to miss out on opportunities to connect, interact, and share experiences and knowledge that we would have if all of the members of Chapters and URISA were part of one organization. OneURISA will eliminate this missed opportunity and provide more value to all of us as URISA members.

2. As a Chapter Member what does OneURISA mean for me?

As OneURISA is implemented, you will no longer just be a Chapter member. Instead, you will become a member of your Chapter and also URISA International, making you part of a larger organization. As such you will have increased benefits, such as:

  • Access to a larger professional network.
  • Belonging to a stronger organization with a more influential voice to address issues important to the profession and community. There is power in numbers and we have opportunities to make a positive impact on the GIS profession on many fronts.
  • Have a voice on the international, national and local stage through URISA and our affiliations with groups such as the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO), the United Nations, National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), and others to address issues facing the profession.
  • More opportunities to earn contribution points for GISP certification.
  • URISA International publications such as The GIS Professional and URISA Digest.
  • Discounts on URISA events such as GIS-Pro, GIS Leadership Academy, and specialty conferences.
  • Vote in URISA International elections, run for office, and serve on committees.
  • One stop shop for membership sign-up, renewal and information.

3. As a URISA International member, what does OneURISA mean for me?

When OneURISA is implemented, you will be a member of a stronger, more vital organization. OneURISA will enhance URISA's already significant representation and profile in the geospatial industry, giving us a stronger voice to impact initiatives, such as the Geospatial Data Act, and challenges which have been facing our industry at an ever-increasing rate. It will also provide access to an even larger professional network. It will provide you with membership in a local chapter, if one exists. This means you will be able to benefit from their activities, as well, and work with dedicated GIS professionals in your local area. Inherently, Chapters are able to provide or facilitate meetings, networking, and training in a more personal context. Chapters can help influence public policy at the State and local level, as well as raise issues that are impacting policy trends that affect the GIS industry in other States and in other countries.

4. Why is there such a rush to change things and move to OneURISA?

While this may be the first time you are hearing about OneURISA, it has been discussed as a vision for the organization for over 15 years. The Chapter Advisory Board (CAB) has been working on a specific plan for over 4 years now, and the URISA International Board approved a general blueprint this past June.

5. What was the blueprint the Board approved in June?

The OneURISA model blueprint, approved by the URISA International Board, defined what we are trying to build as OneURISA. The blueprint was based on the work done by the Chapter Advisory Board (CAB) over the last several years. It is the first step in a larger process required to move forward. Making a significant membership model change in an international organization takes a lot of careful planning and coordination.

6. Now that the blueprint has been approved, what is the next step?

Now that we know what we are building, we can begin the process of determining how we will build it. This will include a financial and systems analysis, communication and marketing plan, and discussion with legal and financial experts to make sure everything we want to do is legal and provides the best possible protection to the membership, Chapters and the International organization. There will be a continuing review of the blueprint as more information from these activities becomes available. This will ultimately evolve into an implementation plan for URISA and the Chapters.

7. When will we be implementing OneURISA?

The goal is to have an implementation plan ready to be presented at GIS-Pro in Jacksonville this year. We will then start implementation around the end of 2017 and the first part of 2018. Implementation will most likely start with just one or two chapters to ensure the process works smoothly, with that number increasing as we see how the process works. The ultimate goal is to have full implementation achieved by 2020.

8. Will my Chapter need to implement the new plan by ourselves?

No, you will not. URISA will be putting together a Tech Assist team to help each Chapter transition to the new OneURISA model.

9. What happened to the $75 membership dues that we have heard about? Why is that not in the blueprint approved by the Board?

The $75 membership dues were first proposed in 2014 as a starting point for discussion and consideration. It was to be a placeholder until a detailed financial analysis could be completed. The financial analysis could not be done until there was a consensus regarding the OneURISA Model. The financial analysis is now underway to determine what the fee will need to be in order to support the benefits and services URISA will need to provide to the members, Chapters and URISA. In the meantime, the Board put language in as a possible place holder which simply states that the URISA International Board will set the international dues portion and each chapter can set its dues portion. This may or may not change depending on the results of the analysis.

10. I really have enjoyed being a member of my local URISA Chapter, but don't think I can afford the extra dues that it would take to be a URISA member in order to continue my Chapter membership. Will it still be possible to be just a member of my local Chapter?

The cost of dues has not been determined yet, so it is a little early to be concerned. However, can you really afford not to be a member with all the challenges currently facing our profession and your own development in a constantly changing industry? The GIS profession is currently facing many important challenges including: attempts to redefine land surveying to include work that has traditionally been GIS, cuts in funding to major programs such as the Census which we rely on more and more, sale of broadband spectrum to a private company that seeks to control use of GPS, etc. Our community needs a strong voice to advocate for our collective interests. In addition to these challenges, there are many opportunities to advance our collective interests, including modifying the Geospatial Data Act to better reflect our needs, playing an appropriate role in shaping the development of Next Generation 9-1-1, helping craft the next iteration of the Report Card on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, implementing the Geospatial Capability Maturity Model, etc. However, to answer the main questions. No, it will not be possible for you to just join your local chapter. Under OneURISA, you will be a member of both.

11. I have heard that some Chapters might reject the new membership model. What will happen to such Chapters?

If an existing Chapter elects not to become part of OneURISA, they will cease to be a chapter of URISA and lose all rights and benefits of a chapter.

12. I live in an area where there is no local Chapter currently formed. What happens for me in this situation?

If you live in an area that does not have an active chapter, you will be considered an At-Large member. An At-Large member will have all the benefits of URISA International membership but is not required to join a local chapter unless they elect too.

13. Am I required to join my local Chapter? Can I join more than one Chapter?

Yes, if there is an active Chapter in your geographic area, the OneURISA model requires that you join that Chapter. You can join as many Chapters as you like as long as you pay the required dues, which are still to be determined.

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