A Publication of the Federal Geographic Data Committee July 1995
N E W S L E T T E R
National GeoData ForumMore than 400 representatives of local, regional, State and Federal agencies, utilities, the private sector, and academia gathered to discuss future directions of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) at the National GeoData Forum, May 7-10 in Crystal City, Virginia.
In the opening session Bruce Babbitt, the Secretary of the Interior, stressed the importance of developing the NSDI to ensure that geospatial data be available to respond to national issues. Global and local perspectives on geospatial data were provided by Dr. Nay Htun from the United Nations Development Programme and Daniel Kemmis the mayor of Missoula, Montana. The balance between econom rights and the common good of shared data was one of the major themes of the two days of sector and panel discussions that followed.
The forum concluded with a "town meeting" in whh representatives from the various sectors presented the results of their discussions. There was general agreement that progress has been made in developing a Metadata standard, a data clearinghouse, and a vision of framework data for the Nation, but that there is much to be done in the following areas: implementing the Metadata standard and the framework data plan, expanding the clearinghouse and providing access to data, developing strategies for community involvement and changing institutional structures to take better advantage of the NSDI. Many atttendees are already active partipants in the NSDI and expressed a willingness to do more.
Recipients of the FGDC's 1994 Competitive Cooperative Agreements awards demonstrated their projects at the GeoData Forum by partipating in workshops and exhibits. Representatives of the Wisconsin NSDI Clearinghouse Initiative, the Alexandria Technal College and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the New Mexo Resource Geographic Information System described their experiences implementing the FGDC's Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata and providing training on the standard.
National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Update
NSDI NodeSeveral informative and innovative links have been added recently to the Federal Geograph Data Committee NSDI server. This list can be accessed by World Wide Web browsers such as Mosa or Netscape and with such text-based browsers as Lynx. The Universal Resource Locator (URL) of the NSDI home page is http://www.fgdc.gov. Suggestions for improvement are welcome. Please email comments to the address above. Use of the server continues to grow. An average of over 500 files are downloaded daily from the NSDI home page.
State ClearinghousesThe involvement of all levels of government and all sectors of society are vital to building a robust National Spatial Data Infrastructure. The NSDI Executive Order directs the FGDC to "involve State, local, and tribal governments in the development and implementation of the initiatives contained in this order. "The April FGDC Newsletter featured a description of the Montana Natural Resource Information System Node. In this issue are featured two more of the many geograph data clearinghouse initiatives underway in the States. Take a look at the NSDI home page at http://www.fgdc.gov for links to all State Clearinghouses that form nodes in the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse.
To become part of the Clearinghouse, notify the FGDC that you have established an Internet node for geospatial data by sending email to email@example.com.
Southern California Distributed GIS ProjectThe Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Distributed GIS Project will link together 184 jurisdtions with desktop GIS throughout Southern California. The systems will include hardware and software specifally designed to promote data sharing and communications among local governments. The publ domain GIS applications will be available for downloading from the SCAG server after the project is completed. For more information contact
(Source: CGIA News, Vol. 2 No.1, Spring 1995).
Louisiana Coastal GIS NetworkThe Louisiana Coastal GIS Network (LCGISN) is a cooperative project between the USGS National Coastal Geology Program and the Coastal Studies Institute of Louisiana State University. The primary objective of LCGISN has been to create a framework for an electron spatially indexed catalog of different data types (e.g., maps, aerial photography, imagery, geotechnal data, literature, and audiovisual materials) for Louisiana's coastal zone.
This objective has been accomplished with the development of two LCGISN software packages that enable users not only to search for geospatial data but also to catalog their geospatial data for inclusion in the LCGISN data base. These LCGISN software packages, known as the GeoSpatial Search Program and the GeoSpatial Cataloging Program, respectively, have been developed based on the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata and the U.S. Machine Readable Cataloging format. The GeoSpatial Search Program will be available via a telnet link through the LCGISN, WWW home page ( http://gisnet.cadgis.lsu.edu/lcgisn/lcghome.html) at the end of July.
For additional information contact :
Wisconsin Launches WISCLINCWisconsin Land Information Program recently announced the establishment of their Clearinghouse node in the NSDI network. WISCLINC (WISConsin Land INformation Clearinghouse) is available via anonymous FTP at ftp://wisclinc.geography.wisc.edu/ and via the WWW at http://wisclinc.geography.wisc.edu/wisclinc.html. The Wisconsin State Cartographer's Offe home page is currently "under construction" at http://wisclinc.geography.wisc.edu/sco.html. For more information contact
SDTS Goes ANSIThe Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS) was approved in 1992 as a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS). Last year the first implementation profile for the SDTS was finished and the first commercial implementations began to appear. SDTS is now about to reach another standards milestone. Over the last 18 months SDTS has been under review with the Ameran National Standards Institute (ANSI) committee on GIS Standards (designated X3L1). Several ANSI drafts have been distributed within the committee and the final ANSI version of SDTS is expected to be ready for publ review by the July 16 ANSI X3L1 meeting at the Urban and Regional Information System Association (URISA) meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The ANSI version of the SDTS matches the current FIPS version (FIPS 173-1, Parts 1 - 4) except for raster data. The ANSI version has substantial revisions to the raster specifations and includes a raster profile (Part 5). The raster revisions and profile will be presented to the FIPS program at the same time. The goal is to keep the ANSI and FIPS versions of SDTS idental.
Content Standards for Digital
Geospatial MetadataThe FGDC Secretariat staff are available for workshops and presentations to introduce managers and technal personnel to the Metadata standard. To schedule a workshop or presentation call the FGDC Secretariat at (703) 648-5514. Upcoming Metadata training sessions are scheduled for the URISA Conference in San Antonio, the NSGIC Conference in Burlington, Vermont, and the Midwest/Great Lakes ArcInfo Users Conference in Champaign, Illinois. Contact conference organizers to register for one of the workshops. See page 12 for conference dates and points-of-contact. A workbook to help managers of digital geospatial data document their data using the Metadata standard has been published in both book form (available upon request from the FGDC Secretariat) and as a hypertext document on the NSDI home page http://www.fgdc.gov/.
Wetlands Classifation StandardThe FGDC is sponsoring a publ review of an existing wetlands classification system. "Classifation of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United states," by Cowardin et al., USFWS, FWS/OBS-79/31, is being considered for adoption as an FGDC-endorsed standard. If adopted, the standard must be followed by all Federal agencies for data collected directly or indirectly (through grants, partnerships, or contracts). In its assigned leadership role for developing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), the FGDC recognizes that optimal standards will also help meet the needs of State and local governments, academia, industry, and the publ. The FGDC invites the geospatial data community to review, test, and evaluate this classifation system and provide comments about its content, completeness, and usability as a standard. Comments must be received by October 15, 1995. For classifation purposes, wetlands are defined as: lands that are transitional between terrestrial and aquat systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water, and that have one or more of the following attributes:
(2) the substrate is predominantly undrained hydr soil.
(3) the substrate is non-soil and is saturated with water or covered by shallow water at some time during the growing season of each year.
National Digital Geospatial Data Framework
Pilot ProjectsAs a part of the strategy to implement the framework, the FGDC is in the initial stages of tracking a series of short (4 to 6 month) "proof-of-concept" pilot projects to test and critique the concepts outlined in the report "Development of a National Digital Geospatial Data Framework" (April, 1995). To receive a copy of the framework report send a request to the FGDC Secretariat. Prospective pilot partipants have been identified representing Federal, State and local governments as well as private industry. Transportation, hydrography, orthoimagery and cadastral themes will be emphasized in the pilots. Other framework themes include boundaries, geodet control, and elevation. Data updating, street address integration and applation of river reach schemes will be investigated in the currently identified pilots. During publ review and discussions of the framework concept, additional themes were proposed, such as soils, land cover, wetlands, utilities, census data and ZIP codes, for inclusion in the framework. These data themes are important to many GIS applations, but they don't meet the criteria established for framework data. Framework data are conceived to be the limited, bas, consistent set of geospatial data that many organizations use as a landscape upon whh to link other themes for display and analysis. These are the data required to collect or display other data. Partipants in the pilot projects will explore the organizational relationships necessary for the success of framework. A key role is that of the "area integrator." The area integrator will incorporate new data into the framework, coordinate data creation and maintenance, implement certifation policies, implement the technal standards describing the characteristics of the theme data, and provide guidance to other data producers. As the projects are completed, the FGDC will work with the project partipants and others to use the experience gained from the pilots to refine the framework concept and chart the next steps in developing the framework.
Invitation to partipateIf your organization is building what you think are framework data sets and/or functions as an area integrator and you wish to partipate in a framework pilot project, please send a brief (one-page) summary to the FGDC Secretariat.
The summary should include: project description, data themes collected or coordinated, geograph area of interest, current funding, project time frames and a point of contact.
1995 Competitive Cooperative
Agreements Awards AnnouncedIn July 1995, the FGDC completed granting awards for the second year of the program. The twenty-three awards totaled $625,000. These awards support the development and implementation of the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse, implementation of FGDC-endorsed standards, and development of software tools or techniques to aid in the evaluation of geospatial metadata or data through the Clearinghouse. The lead agency or institution for each of the twenty-three projects is listed below. A summary of each project proposal, including a complete list of project collaborators, has been posted on the FGDC home page.
FGDC SUBCOMMITTEESEach subcommittee of the FGDC is responsible for coordinating the activities related to a theme of geospatial data. These activities include establishing and implementing standards for data content and data exchange, encouraging data sharing, and organizing data collection to minimize duplation. The subcommittees are composed primarily of representatives of Federal organizations, although most are currently in the process of expanding membership to include other sectors. Contact the FGDC Secretariat if you have an interest in a specif theme of data. Following are highlights of current subcommittee activities.
Base Cartograph Data Subcommittee
Department of the Interior
U.S. Geologal Survey
Jim Plasker, ChairThe Subcommittee on Base Cartograph Data is responsible for coordinating Federal activities related to digital orthophoto and elevation data, both of who have been identified by the FGDC as key framework components of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. The concept of a national digital orthophoto program was proposed in 1990 by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Serve and the USDI-U.S. Geological Survey.
After 3 years of development and testing, production of digital orthophoto quadrangles (DOQs) began. To provide program oversight and technal leadership for a national program, the National Digital Orthophoto Program (NDOP) Steering Committee was chartered in July, 1993. The goal of NDOP is to ensure the availability of DOQ coverage of the conterminous US by 2001 through cooperative partnerships with Federal, State and local agencies. The Steering Committee members currently represent the following agencies and organizations.
Framework elevation data are computer compatible digital records of terrain elevations for ground positions at regularly spaced horizontal intervals. These data are designed to meet the increasing requirements for digital terrain data for a broad base of systems to conduct automated analyses for a wide range of land management and scientif applications. These data provide the capability to display slope, aspect, and terrain profiles between selected points. Elevation data are also an essential production component of digital orthophoto quadrangles (DOQs).
The U.S. Geologal Survey is working with the Subcommittee on Base Cartograph Data to expand USGS's Digital Elevation Program to be a national elevation program that will support the geospatial data framework concepts as described by the FGDC. The USGS is actively seeking partnerships to accelerate national digital elevation data coverage and availability for the nation. A session on this national initiative is scheduled for GIS/LIS, Nashville, Tennessee the week of November 13, 1995.
Please join us there!
Department of Commerce
National Ocean Serve
Frank Maloney, ChairOn April 1, 1995, Mr. Frank Maloney replaced Capt. Thomas Rhards as Chief of the National Ocean Serve Nautical Chart Division and Chair of the Bathymetr Subcommittee. Captain Richards is now coordinating a multi-agency San Francisco Bay demonstration project that will serve as a "proof of concept" of the regional aspects of the NSDI. The subcommittee is currently reviewing the revision to the International Hydrograph Office Standard for Hydrograph and Bathymetric Surveying entitled S-44. The significance of this new standard is that it provides for inclusion of bathymetr data with various orders of accuracy in a national data base. The subcommittee is also developing a Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS) profile for hydrograph and related data.
Cadastral Data Subcommittee
Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management
John Moeller, ChairThe Cadastral Subcommittee has completed the development of draft content, collection, and quality control standards, and a metadata profile for cadastral data. The standards were circulated for national review and the subcommittee's technal advisory group has recently evaluated all comments. The standards are expected to be transmitted to the FGDC Coordination Group for final review and approval as FGDC standards in October 1995. The subcommittee is currently developing educational material to assist in the implementation of the standards after their adoption. Self-study workbooks, sample data sets, and on-site training programs are in the planning stages, and will be developed as resources permit.
A Cadastral Data Transfer Standard was partly developed in 1993-94, but placed on hold until completion of the data content standard. Development of this transfer standard, to be used as a profile to supplement SDTS will continue.
Control standards are also being developed that will provide the standards for use and storage of survey control utilized in the collection of cadastral data. These control standards are being developed in cooperation with the Federal Geodet Control Subcommittee.
Cultural and Demograph Subcommittee
Department of Commerce
Bureau of the Census
Fred Broome, ChairThe FGDC's Subcommittee on Cultural and Demograph Data has submitted its draft "Content Standards for Cultural and Demograph Data Metadata" to the FGDC's Standards Working Group to begin the internal and national review process required for adoption as an FGDC standard.
The subcommittee sponsored a Cultural and Demograph Data Security Conference in April that offered representatives from 25 Federal agencies an opportunity to learn about data confidentiality and security issues from leaders in the field and to exchange information on problems and solutions with other Federal personnel. The conference was held at the National Archives and Records Administrations conference facility in College Park, Maryland. Keynote addresses were delivered by Mr. Rob Veeder, Internal Revenue Service, on "An Overview of Privacy Issues," and by Mr. Scott Charney, Department of Justice, on "Current Issues in Computer Security." Panels addressed confidentiality and data security issues faced by Federal agencies. The subcommittee plans to sponsor future events that will be open to the general publ.
Geodet Control Subcommittee
Department of Commerce
National Geodet Survey
Captain Lewis Lapine, ChairThe Federal Geodet Control Subcommittee (FGCS) of the FGDC exercises governmentwide leadership in coordinating the planning and execution of geodet surveys, in developing standards and specifications for these surveys, and in the exchange of geodet survey data and technical information. Information about the activities of the subcommittee and a list of member agencies is available through the FGCS home page at http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/FGCS/fgcs.html FGCS member agencies also work together through the subcommittee to ensure that the Global Positioning System (GPS) will continue to meet the positioning needs of the Federal civilian community and to strengthen the ties between the GPS positioning and navigation communities.
Geolog Data Subcommittee
Department of the Interior
U.S. Geologal Survey
John Sutter, ChairIn May, the Geolog Data Subcommittee reconvened under new leadership to discuss the role of the subcommittee. Working groups are being formed to resolve standards-related issues for the various scientif disciplines and information types within the subcommittee's purview, such as surfial geology, and oil and gas. These working groups will include representatives of the non-Federal community. The draft document on digital cartograph and geolog map standards prepared by the USGS in cooperation with the Association of Ameran State Geologists will be released as a Progress Report from the subcommittee after modifations to the document have been completed this summer.
Ground Transportation Subcommittee
Department of Transportation
Bureau of Transportation Statists
Bruce Spear, ChairThe Ground Transportation Subcommittee is developing a Transportation Network Profile (TNP) under the Spatial Data Transfer Standard to exchange geospatial data bases depting transportation networks such as roads or railroads. These network data bases have certain unique requirements that are not fully satisfied by the existing Topologal Vector or Raster Profiles. For example, links comprising a transportation network should have the ability to cross another link without explitly intersecting it (e.g., a highway overpass). Also, since many transportation features and events are located by means of a linear referencing system associated with a given transportation network, the TNP should provide a way for exchanging the information needed to anchor the linear referencing system to the network.
A draft version of the TNP was developed at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center last Fall, and has been circulated for comment at major GIS and transportation conferences during the past year. Based on comments received to date, the original draft TNP has been modified to allow the exchange of point and area features as separate layers from the network, and to permit graph objects as an option to the basic profile. Copies of the current draft TNP will be available at the Bureau of Transportation Statists (BTS) exhibit at the URISA annual meeting in San Antonio, or can be downloaded from the BTS World Wide Web site http://www.bts.gov.
An important issue that has not yet been resolved is how to incorporate the attributes for a linear referencing system into the Transportation Network Profile. Last December, the Ground Transportation Subcommittee made available its recommendations for linear referencing systems through a note in the Federal Register, and requested comments from interested parties in State and local governments, the transportation industry, and the publ. Approximately 15 individuals and organizations submitted written comments before the close of the comment period. Most of the comments focused on objections to the establishment of a national highway linear referencing system under the control of a central organization. None of the commentors provided recommendations on how to incorporate linear referencing into the Transportation Network Profile. The Ground Transportation Subcommittee hopes to resolve the issue this summer so that a revised draft Transportation Network Profile can be formally submitted to the SDTS Task Force by the end of this calendar year.
International Boundaries and Sovereignty Subcommittee
Department of State
Offe of the Geographer and
Bradford Thomas, ChairThe Subcommittee on International Boundaries and Sovereignty is sponsoring creation of a digital database of international boundaries. The database will be comprised of international boundaries and shorelines at different scales, including the most precise boundary data available, as well as superseded boundaries.
The Digital International Boundary Database Working Group (DIBDWG), a subgroup of the subcommittee, is adapting the specifations of DMA's World Vector Shoreline Plus (WVSPlus) for this database. Boundary scales range from 1:250,000 to 1:120,000,000; it is hoped that the base scale of land boundaries will be 1:250,000 as a result of DMA development efforts. The horizontal datum for the data is the World Geodet System 84 (WGS84).
International boundary data are perhaps the most inconsistent single feature geospatial data in the world, ranging from very precise to vague textual descriptions. These data will never be uniform in precision, and a uniform, comprehensive boundary data layer at scales larger than 1:250,000 will probably never be possible. It is planned that the best data available will be stored in the "precise" layer, and that such data will be used to revise and/or improve the data in the uniform scale layers. Data to be entered that are not on WGS84 will have to be transformed to that datum. The DIBDWG has identified changes to be made to the feature and attribute codes of WVSPlus and is addressing the issue of harmonizing the existing DIGEST data exchange standard to the Spatial Data Transfer Standard.
Department of Agrulture
U.S. Forest Serve
Fred Kaiser, ChairThe Vegetation Subcommittee, in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, is in the final stages of development of a draft vegetation classifation standard. Watch this space in the fall for an announcement that this draft standard is available for publ review.
Department of Interior
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serve
Bill Wilen, ChairThe Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD-DNR) is working with the FGDC Wetlands Subcommittee to compare new and existing techniques for identifying wetlands. National inventories of land use and land cover include data on wetlands; however, wetland definitions vary depending on the mandate and programmat needs of the agencies that collect the data. These variations result in signifantly different estimates of wetland acreage in each inventory. During recent studies, maps were developed that delineated areas in whh
Research on the potential usefulness of these data to wetlands regulators led to an MD-DNR workshop in November 1994 to examine the issues, field verify prototype regulatory map products, and develop a consensus on issues relating to regulatory maps through the use of questionnaires and discussions before and after field work. Workshop partipants recommended against producing regulatory maps for wetlands. The two principal concerns about such maps were that
The results of the workshop are provided in an MD-DNR report, "Regulatory Wetlands Map Workshop, A Report of Activities and Findings" (March 1995). This report may be of interest to jurisdtions or agencies that are considering the use of regulatory maps in wetland protection programs. For further information about this report, contact William S. Burgess, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, (410) 974-2721.
Clearinghouse Working Group
Department of the Interior
U. S. Geologal Survey
Nancy Tosta, ChairThe Clearinghouse Working Group promotes the use of the FGDC metadata standard, Internet connectivity for geospatial data sharing, and development of search and query tools in the Internet environment. Several of the agencies in the group are addressing the development of metadata creation tools and implementation of Z39.50 compliant search and query mechanisms. The group will oversee an evaluation of current metadata tools and is supporting the expansion of geospatial search capabilities on the Internet.
Facilities Working Group
Department of Defense
Army Corps of Engineers
M.K. Miles, ChairThis working group was formed in January 1995 to work within the FGDC and with non-Federal communities to coordinate spatial data activities related to facilities management. A facilities database might describe a factory, a military base, a college, a hospital, a power plant, a fishery, a national park, an offe building, or a prison. The working group has responsibility for addressing issues for facilities data not currently represented by other FGDC subcommittees, such as data about the location of utilities, environmental hazards, and firing ranges. The working group will coordinate with other FGDC entities to develop standards for the more detailed, larger scale, and higher resolution data required by the facilities community. Since facility management can involve integrating high and low resolution data, and large and small scale data, the Facilities Working Group has an opportunity to be a link between the FGDC and other organizations such as the National Institute for Building Sciences and the Ameran Public Works Association. A significant facilities related standards development is the Tri-Serve Spatial Data Standard (TSSDS) whh is available for review through the Defense Tri-Service CADD/GIS Technology Center. (To request a copy of the standard call Harold Smith (601) 634-2945). The Center is working with FGDC subcommittees and other entities to make the TSSDS a comprehensive data standard for the facilities community.
Standards Working Group
Department of the Interior
U.S. Geologal Survey
Rhard Hogan, ChairThe Standards Working Group (SWG) of the FGDC has taken on a new, more active role in the coordination of FGDC standards activities. As part of its new functions, the SWG will review and approve new standards proposals, provide guidance on FGDC standards poly and procedures, facilitate coordination among subcommittees with overlapping standards activities, review standards for compliance with FGDC polies and procedures, and make recommendations to the Coordination Group as to the readiness of a standard for other necessary actions toward endorsement. A subgroup of the SWG is currently working on the formulation of standards poly and procedures. The Charter of the SWG and the FGDC Standards Review Process are being updated to reflect the new role of the working group.
FGDC Contact Information The FGDC Newsletter describes activities of the geospatial data community and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. Subscriptions are free of charge. Correspondence or contributions may be directed to the FGDC Secretariat as indated below:
590 National Center
Reston, VA 22092
Voe (703) 648-5514
Fax (703) 648-5755
FTP via Internet
Address: www.fgdc.gov (126.96.36.199)
User name: ftp
Password : (your email address)
After connecting: cd pub
README file has current information on the files in each subdirectory.
FGDC PublationsTo subscribe to the newsletter or request the FGDC's publation list, please complete the information below and return it to the FGDC Secretariat by facsimile or mail. Be sure to provide the information requested below in your message.
EUROGI Directories Now On-LineEUROGI, the European Umbrella Organization for Geographal Information and NexpRI, The Netherlands Expertise Centre for Geographal Information Processing created a prototype WWW link to databases of European Geographal Information research, training and education courses.
Take a look at http://www.frw.ruu.nl/eurogi/eurogi.html.
Sept 16-20 National States Geograph Information Council
Sept 17-19 International City Management Association Denver, Colorado
Sept 25 National Association of State Information Resource Executives San Antonia, Texas
Sept 27-29 1995 Midwest/Great Lakes ARC/INFO User Conference. Champaign, Illinois Contact: Rob Krumm (217) 333-4085
Sept 28-29 Sixth Annual Virginia GIS Conference Roanoke, Virginia Contact: Matt Miller (703) 343-4417
Oct 4 Joseph F. Poland Symposium on Land Subsidence, Sacramento, California
Nov 8-11 18th Annual Applied Geography Conference Arlington, Virginia
Nov 14-16 GIS/LIS '95 Nashville, Tennessee
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