FGDC GeoPathways Initiative

In 2017, FGDC established the GeoPathways Initiative with the objective of nurturing and developing the next generation of Geospatial Analysts and professional users of geospatial data.  Current students selected as part of the initiative are already actively working on their projects with their sponsors and advisors. Learn more about the current GeoPathways Students and their Project Sponsors & Advisors.

GeoPathways Concept

Over the past 25 years the FGDC has advanced the use of geographic information through the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).  Since its inception FGDC has served as a national and global pioneer leading the development of spatial data infrastructures and geospatial services.   In 2016 the FGDC public private partnership, published the NSDI Strategic Framework to support the continued development and expansion of the NSDI.   A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) estimated that the U.S. geospatial industry generated approximately $73 billion in annual revenue and comprises at least 500,000 high-wage jobs. BCG also found that geospatial services deliver efficiency gains in the rest of the economy that are valued at many times the size of the sector itself—with geospatial services driving $1.6 trillion in revenue and $1.4 trillion in cost savings. The same study forecasts 10% annual growth over the next five years and job growth is expected to grow 16% to 35% over the next several years.  These benefits create an important competitive advantage for the U.S. economy, and create a growing number of high-wage technology jobs.

The NSDI strategic framework acknowledges industry trends and the importance of the NSDI to support sustained growth in the geospatial industry.  In 2017 the FGDC will participate in the State Department's Virtual Student Foreign Service program to engage the academic community in advancing the NSDI.  The Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) is an eight-month  (September-May) remote internship program for U.S. citizen students, college-level and above, who would like to make a real difference in the work of the U.S. government.  FGDC participation in the VSFS program provides a strategic opportunity for engagement with the future workforce in development and expansion of the NSDI.  

GeoPathways 2017-2018


GeoPathways timeline

 Program Highlights


  • For 2017-2018, GeoPathways advertised 3  activities (FGDC Outreach & Communication, R&D, Use Cases) requesting 8 students
  • 24 applications received
  • 16 students selected
  • 12 Universities from West, Central and Eastern U.S represented
  • Diverse group of Men and Women representing various demographics
  • Thematic Focus of Projects- Deliverables will include case studies, story maps, factsheets
    • Disasters - Disaster resilience for Smart Communities
    • Public health and safety - Public health, security, safety, infrastructure related
    • Emerging technologies - Drones, cloud, mobile
  • As of Nov 28, 2017, Project Mentors have been assigned, student orientation and kickoff activities have been completed, collaboration communities have been established and students are starting to actively work on their projects.
  • Learn more about the current GeoPathways Students and their Project Sponsors & Advisors.

Reference Materials

For more information about GeoPathways, please contact Rich Frazier, FGDC at or 703-648-5733.