DVD conference emphasizes data-intensive applications

Agency representatives used this week's DVD 2003 conference to highlight the role of optical storage technology in both the preservation and dissemination of data.

Many agencies still have thousands of old magnetic tapes containing data that taxpayers spent millions of dollars to collect, said Jerry McFaul, a Geological Survey computer scientist. The data tapes are difficult to duplicate and deteriorate over time, especially if not stored properly.

The Census Bureau makes several summary files from the Census 2000 data set available on DVD, said Bill Savino, chief of the bureau's Electronic Products Development Branch. The data set to fulfill the bureau's congressional redistricting obligations under Public Law 94-171 was the bureau's first DVD product.

Since that release in late 2000, Census has come out with many other DVD products, including a six-disk set containing Adobe Portable Document Format maps of every census block in the country. 'We could not do that before DVD,' Savino said.

McFaul showed off LandView 5.0, a two-disc DVD set that combines a database of Census 2000 statistics with a mapping engine called MARPLOT, developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It's a Web-connected application, meaning that anyone using LandView 5.0 on a computer connected to the Internet can drill down to the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site for the latest information on sites of environmental concern.

The Census Bureau sells LandView 5.0 online at landview.census.gov, McFaul said. NOAA, EPA and USGS are partners with the Census Bureau in the project. The $99 fee covers replication costs and a marketing budget.

A sixth version of LandView containing additional data from the Census 2000 long form will be released in late summer, McFaul said.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the DVD Association co-sponsored the conference in Gaithersburg, Md.

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