Interior unearths GIS portal

Scott Cameron, deputy assistant secretary of Interior for performance and management, says 'the portal will breathe life into the geospatial marketplace.'

GCN file photo

With the launch of the GeoSpatial One-Stop portal yesterday, the Interior Department nudged forward the government's goal of establishing a nationwide geospatial infrastructure.

The portal, at www.geodata.gov, will provide a gateway for federal, state and local government personnel, nonprofits and industry to gain easier access to geospatial data, said Scott Cameron, deputy assistant secretary of Interior for performance and management.

'The portal will breathe life into the geospatial marketplace,' he said during the unveiling of the site at the Intergovernmental Policy Congress-Technology and Homeland Security conference in Washington. 'The portal will help us create hundreds, if not thousands, of partnerships to get the geospatial data we need. This is the first big step down a long road.'

The project'one of the Bush administration's 25 electronic-government initiatives'is a collaboration of federal, state and local geospatial organizations. Seven of the 11 project board members are members of state and local groups, such as the National League of Cities, Western Governors Association and National States Geographic Information Council.

'The portal is a two-way street to share information at all levels of government,' said Hank Garie, the project's executive director. 'It will help us find consistent data and find those areas where we don't have the data we need.'

The portal lets users search for geospatial data, such as land elevation and transportation networks, by region, state or county. The site search engine scans data on servers around the country and brings it back to one central point, Garie said.

Eight states have populated the database so far, and the portal could add another 17 by the end of the year, Garie said.

Once fully populated, GeoSpatial One-Stop will let users know who owns data so there will be less redundant data and systems buys, Cameron said. It also will let federal, state and local governments identify geographic information systems projects that they could work on jointly.

'This is the first time we have an interoperable geospatial portal,' Garie said. 'No matter the type of software you have your data on, we can retrieve it.'

Users also can scan metadata, such as short abstracts and when records were was last updated, and build maps by layering files.

Two other e-government projects will use the portal, Cameron said. Recreation One-Stop will use the portal for that initiative's mapping function, and the Disaster Management project will use it to make sure its maps are up-to-date.

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