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US federal agencies debut geospatial platform

Washington D. C., US: The US federal government and its geospatial partners unveiled a prototype geospatial platform website. It provides an initial view of the future of user-friendly, integrated, federal data collections on common geographic maps. It is accessible at www.geoplatform.gov.

According to a press statement by the Department of Interior, this geospatial platform combines map-based data and tools with the latest internet technologies to deliver geospatial information in a simple, understandable package. Users—including the public, federal agencies and their partners—can easily find federally-maintained geospatial data, services and applications, as well as access data from our partners across State, Tribal, Regional and local governments.

“The platform will provide a user-friendly ‘one-stop shop’ for place-based data you can trust, and the tools to display that data on a map platform,” said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science.

Through the website, users can create their own maps by combining their data with public domain data and can collaborate in public and private groups with others who share their interests. Maps assembled through the geospatial platform can be shared with others through web browsers and mobile technologies. All of this is possible without requiring users to install software on their own computers.

The platform has been developed as a partnership among the member agencies of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), an interagency committee composed of representatives from the Executive Office of the President, and Cabinet level and independent Federal agencies including Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The FGDC promotes the coordinated development, use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data on a national basis. Assistant Secretary Castle serves as chair of the FGDC steering committee. The Geospatial Platform is a key driver for FGDC member agencies to improve the quality and access of their unique geospatial assets. It enhances and complements efforts that are underway to develop mission-specific geospatial applications in agencies such as NOAA, EPA, Interior and Agriculture.

“The ability to quickly visualise combinations of different types of data will allow decision makers and citizens to make timely, informed judgments on important land and resource issues,” Castle emphasised. “The Platform will also promote efficiency and reduce duplication of effort by providing the means to create unique maps that can be built once and reused many times. In Interior, it truly will be the “platform” we build upon as we develop and share geospatial tools to enhance our specific mission — the responsible use of the nation’s land, water and coastal resources.”

Examples of the information available on the initial version of the geospatial platform include environmental clean-up data from EPA and coastal environmental sensitivity data and historic hurricane data from NOAA. These data sets could be combined on a topographic map from Interior to assess hurricane vulnerability in coastal areas.

Developing an online infrastructure for increasing access to data, services and tools has been a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative. The official launch of the platform improves the availability and usability of geospatial information from all federal agencies. The Platform will also integrate and display the geospatial information on the Administration’s Data.gov site. The FGDC partnered with the General Services Administration to improve access to geospatial data on Data.gov, including the development of a new geospatial data catalog service at: geo.data.gov.

Joe Klimavicz, NOAA’s Chief Information Officer, said, “We believe the Geospatial Platform will be an extremely valuable resource in both responding to, as well as sharing information on, future natural and man-made disasters. This authoritative resource of geospatial data and services will provide users with access to the information necessary to make informed decisions about critical issues.”

Source: DOI