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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

USGS commemorates its involvement with GIS on GIS Day

November 15th, 2013 by Susan Smith

On November 20th, GIS Day, the USGS will commemorate their commitment to GIS. In spite of all the new technologies for mapping currently, the USGS would like to remind people that for the past 130 years, it has been the primary producer of topographic data for the U.S. and is producing its own new and emerging geospatial technologies and products.

Geologic map of the Holy Cross quadrangle, Colorado

Geologic map of the Holy Cross quadrangle, Colorado.

There are now more than 400 new topographic maps available for the state of Alaska that update and detail the physical features of the state and are part of the Alaska Mapping Initiative. Before the AMI many of the topo maps for Alaska had not been updated in 50 years and were created in different scales.

According to the press release, the first 400-plus new US Topo maps for Alaska are now accessible and are the beginning of a multi-year project, ultimately leading to more than 11,000 new maps for the entire state. The maps are available for free download and manipulation on a computer.

Among the other The National Map programs the USGS has developed, is very high-resolution elevation data to support scientific studies related to hurricane Sandy recovery and rebuilding work, watershed planning and resource management. The elevation data will become part of a new initiative, called the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP), to systematically acquire improved, high-resolution elevation data across the nation.

The 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) initiative will respond to the demand for high-quality topographic data and for a wide range of other 3D representations of the U.S. natural and constructed features. The 3DEP can collect enhanced elevation data in the form of LiDAR data over the conterminous United States, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories, with data acquired over an 8-year period.

Lidar remote sensing data can improve existing digital elevation models, but the high costs of production and necessary analytical training to read the data have slowed the process of adoption.

US Topo Maps are quadrangles created from geographic datasets in The National Map, delivering content such as high-resolution aerial photography in digital format.

Mount St. Helens lidar

The USGS has released more than 188,000 high resolution scans of historical topographic maps of the United States dating back to 1884 (founding of the USGS mapping program) in conjunction with US Topo Maps. According to the recent press release, they are recognized as the Historical Topographic Map Collection, a project that has accurately cataloged and created metadata to accompany the high-resolution, georeferenced digital files representing the legacy lithographic maps. These maps are either no longer available for distribution in print or are being replaced by the new generation of US Topo maps.

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Categories: lidar, mapping, urban information models, USGS

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