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US agriculture dept eyes cloud for geospatial data

US: The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), US, is considering using cloud-based web services to access geospatial data and imagery. The FSA is seeking ideas on how to use commercially available web-based services to provide a base layer for its geospatial information systems, according to request for information (RFI) posted on FedBizOpps.gov.

As part of its IT modernisation programme, the FSA uses a thin-client model that leverages web services to access geospatial aerial imagery of farm boundaries that personnel use for farm-related programmes.
FSA acquires the imagery on a three-year contract basis from the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP), which is managed and distributed by the Aerial Photography Field Office (APFO). The APFO, in turn, builds web services so the images can be used daily by more than 2,000 FSA state and county offices to maintain databases and manage farm programmes.

The FSA currently maintains the hardware and software infrastructure to support those web services but it is exploring options for a pilot project that would use a commercial web-based system of image collection, data hosting, service provisioning, and related services to replace it, according to the RFI.

Specifically, the department is looking for a service that can provide current imagery for any one of 11 NAIP states–California, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming–so the FSA can compare the service with the NAIP collection of images.
If the department releases a request for proposal for the service, the provider will be responsible for all imagery, hardware, and software infrastructure to support the contract, according to the RFI.

Source: Information Week