The Mission of MAPPS 

View from Above 

MAPPS president Kelly Francis talks about the exciting future of the trade association 

This article is the first in a series of four focusing on a trade association that recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and continues making meaningful impacts in the geospatial community. The first article is an interview with Kelly Francis, current MAPPS president, who discusses the relevance, positive impacts and short- and long-term direction of MAPPS. Future articles will highlight MAPPS initiatives such as federal agency liaison, emerging leaders, and geo-woman programs.  

Kelly Francis is co-president of Aero-Graphics, Inc. in Salt Lake City, Utah, which has been a member of MAPPS for more than 40 years. Like other MAPPS firms, membership has transcended several generations within a family or amalgamation of firms. MAPPS is guided by a board of directors comprised of mostly company principals, many of which have been engaged since the beginning of the association. This provides a unique perspective of the legacy and importance of this profession, while creating the passion to innovate from new perspectives. 

Who is MAPPS and what drives this association? 

MAPPS is the preeminent national association of private sector firms involved in many aspects and benefits of the geospatial profession in the USA. Members are thought leaders in mapping, surveying, photogrammetry, lidar, satellite and airborne remote sensing, hydrography, GIS data collection, and technology development. Our associate members produce innovative technologies, software solutions and ancillary services. MAPPS is also a 501c (6) non-profit organization. 

Its mission is to promote and advance economic opportunity, networking, education, professionalism within the geospatial community, and foster partnerships with other geospatial associations. 

The MAPPS vision is dedicated to business interests, networking opportunities, technical and professional education, public policy, and legislation advocacy for private practitioners within the geospatial community.  

Why do companies engage in MAPPS? 

Firms join MAPPS for various reasons, including professional networking, learning about geospatial trends, participating in the legislative process, promoting qualification-based procurement, growing the overall marketplace, and honoring project/product excellence. Highlighting a few of these benefits, we find that networking with member firms and potential project partners, and insightful conferences are paramount.  

More than 80 percent of member firms report they have grown their business through partnering with other MAPPS members. Collaboration occurs through participation in MAPPS professional yet casual events, such as the Federal Programs Conference in Washington, D.C. This conference provides firms with up-to-date insights into agency technology and data needs, priorities, and geospatial programs, creating potential opportunities for partnerships and contracts. 

MAPPS actively promotes the capabilities of its member firms using a variety of social media, and our relationships with federal agencies, congress, and other associations. Given that a substantial number of our members are small businesses, this outreach proves advantageous as it extends and complements a firm’s branding and communication initiatives.  

An example of this is the Sustaining Member Program which offers a wealth of social media outreach, conference discounts, and complimentary Emerging Leader registration. This program allows firms to leverage the MAPPS media connections such as 4,800 followers on X (Twitter), 750 email contacts with a 41 percent open rate, 1,900 LinkedIn followers with 22,900 organic impressions, and 1,150 Facebook followers. 

Our Conference Programs Committee creates engaging speaker and networking programs for two annual conferences. We recently completed our Winter Conference that included a keynote address from the Hawaiian Governor’s Office, IDIQ contracting insight, AI applications, and presentations from USGS and NOAA leadership. It also provided interactive forums for geo-women, small business, airborne imaging, associates members, and emerging technologies. Participants receive continuing education credits when attending MAPPS conferences. 

What’s happening with the upcoming Federal Programs Conference? 

I am really pleased that for the first time since COVID, the annual MAPPS Federal Programs Conference returns in-person on March 5 and 6 in Washington, D.C. Members will hear from many federal agencies about the status and future of their geospatial programs. MAPPS members will unite on Capitol Hill participating in the democratic process by visiting their state congressional delegations. These educational and advocacy meetings discuss legislation and policy that serve the nation, and benefit geospatial firms and the communities that we live in. 

What do you want to accomplish as president of MAPPS? 

In my role as MAPPS president, my primary objectives revolve around enhancing the organization’s impact. I aim to broaden our membership base, ensuring a diverse representation within our community. Simultaneously, I am dedicated to curating compelling conference content that captivates our members and fosters an environment of continuous learning and engagement. Facilitating networking opportunities is paramount, promoting meaningful connections that transcend professional boundaries.  

Furthermore, I am committed to driving policies that strategically benefit our member firms, advocating for initiatives that propel our collective success and contribute to the sustained growth of the geospatial industry. 

– Interview by Brian Raber 

Series Navigation<< With friends like these, who needs consumer reviews? Personnel Moves  >>