Interior to integrate geospatial resources

The Interior Department has embarked on a program to integrate and modernize its resources for managing map and geospecific data, said Jason Cason, associate deputy secretary of the department.

Cason spoke at the ESRI Federal User Conference, being held this week in Washington.

DOI has recently established a formal governance structure that will coordinate geospatial activities across all its bureaus, Cason said. To aid in coordinating the activities, the executive team has come up with a "geospatial modernization blueprint," Cason said.

"This newly established blueprint describes the geospatial services model that will manage the DOI geospatial portfolio, and define how geospatial services will be used across the department," Cason said.

Cason said that DOI was one of the earliest users of geospatial technologies, and is looking for ways to reuse the services and data across its own offices, as well as with other agencies.

In a video presentation, Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne said that the department's geomapping data helped firefighters during last fall's outbreak of wildfires in California. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, fused land data from the U.S. Geological Survey with state and local data sources to predict which way Santa Ana winds would blow, allowing California fire officials to send firefighters to the appropriate place to anticipate the resulting blaze.

The agency is now undertaking a similar interagency effort with the National Weather Service to warn California residents of mudslides, Kempthorne said. By creating 3-D images of the hills, experts can determine when a hill acquires so much debris that it threatens to slide.

"In short we're using geospatial technologies to save lives," Kempthorne said.

Bureau of Land Management map services program manager Leslie Cone gave a presentation on the agency's Geocommunicator Web application.

GeoCom was built as part of the National Integrated Land System. Established in 2001, NILS is a joint project of BLM and the Forest Service that provides for the public geotagged data from multiple agencies about federal lands, such as land and mineral use records, mining claims and the public land survey system.

With Geocommunicator, "you can access a map of the U.S. over the Internet showing the lands managed by the United States. It brings together a lot of data managed by numerous agencies on one map," Cone said. Users can look at maps by agency or combined into an aggregated map.

Agencies can also reuse maps from other agencies instead of creating their own. Geocom was built using the standards of the Federal Geographic Data Committee, an interagency group promoting the standardization of federal agency geospatial resources.

GeoCom has a number of new Web services, Cone said. One is the ability to paste geocoded government documents into the search service and get a map showing the areas and boundaries described in the text.

"What we've done is spatially enable the public notice land descriptions," Cone said. Moreover, activities documented by other agencies could be layered onto the resulting map as well.

Another new service offers a converse feature, which can highlight an area on a map and have the service deliver pertinent documents from various agencies.

These services can be accessed not only from the Web site, Cone said, but also could be delivered on a regular basis as a Really Simple Syndication feed, through the GeoRSS format.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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