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A Publication by the Federal Geographich Data Committee November 1996


A New Strategy for the NSDI

Responding to rapid changes in institutions and technology in the geospatial data community, the Federal Geographic Data Committee is leading the revision of the 1994 Strategic Plan for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The revision process will involve a broad range of individuals and organizations throughout the nation. To date, the plan has been reviewed by a number of professional organizations, and has been available for comment on the FGDC home page. An open meeting to finalize goals and objectives is scheduled for Chicago, November 7 and 8. The final strategy document that emerges from this meeting will be posted to the FGDC home page and can also be requested in paper form from the FGDC.

The strategy will provide the foundation for the further growth of the NSDI as various communities of interest from Federal, State, local governments, academia, and the private sector craft implementation plans to support the strategy that meet needs within their own communities. All interested parties are invited to participate in this ongoing dialog.

The Competitive Cooperative Agreements Program

1996 Award Announcements...

Awards for the third year of the NSDI Competitive Cooperative Agreements Program (CCAP) have been announced. CCAP facilitates the formation of partnerships with and among non-Federal organizations to assist in the evolution of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. Thirty-one cooperative agreements were awarded totaling $1,085,000. These awards support the development and implementation of the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (NGDC) for finding and accessing geospatial data; the development of and promulgation of FGDC-endorsed standards in data collection, documentation, transfer, search and query; the development and creation of a National Geospatial Data Framework; and the development and implementation of educational outreach programs to increase awareness and understanding of the NSDI. Listed below are the general program categories and project titles:

Clearinghouse: Biological Resource Emphasis

    Virgin Islands Biological Information Node
    Establishment of a National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Node for Biological Resource Geospatial Data (Kansas)
    Establishing a NSDI Clearinghouse Node for Coastal Resource GIS Data (South Carolina)

Clearinghouse: Regional/Local Emphasis

    Developing Nodes for National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse in New Mexico
    San Francisco Bay Geospatial Data Clearinghouse
    Southwest Washington Geospatial Data Standards and Data Sharing Project
    Creating the Mount Desert Island, Maine Regional NSDI Clearinghouse Node on the Internet

Clearinghouse: Statewide Emphasis

    Montana National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Initiative
    Vermont Metadata Clearinghouse Project
    Establishing a National Spatial Data Clearinghouse Node in Georgia
    Kansas NSDI Clearinghouse Node
    Wyoming Geographic Information Advisory Council NSDI Clearinghouse
    Establishment of an Alabama NSDI National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Node
    Access and Development of a National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Node for Delaware
    Establishing a National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Node for South Dakota

Educational Outreach:

    The Personal Interface in GIS: Training the Trainers
    A Multimedia Tour of the NSDI
    Citizen Access to the NSDI via the Mountain Area Information Network of Western North Carolina
    Establishing an NSDI Clearinghouse Node for West Virginia and Advancing Metadata Standards through Education Seminars


    The Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program (OGRIP) - Large Scale Features Classification Project
    Florida Hydrography and the Framework
    Transportation Framework Data Development in North Carolina
    Michigan Geographic Framework Project
    Wasatch Front Transportation Data Integration and Generalization Project (Utah)
    Public Access to the Alaska Public Land Survey System: An Integrated Software-Data Approach for the NSDI Framework
    Scale and Accuracy Issues in the Use of Orthoimagery within the NSDI (Maine)
    Oregon Framework

Metadata Implementation:

    California's Geospatial Metadata Repository Project
    Implementing a Graphical Metadata Viewer on a National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Node in Illinois
    Software to Support Indexing and Accessing Geospatial Data (Montana)

Standards Development:

    Development and Dissemination of Standards and Tools for Collecting and Managing Cave Survey Data

Program summaries for each project, are available from the FGDC home page.

National Digital Geospatial Data Framework Initiative

The Framework Demonstration Projects Program: 1996 Award Announcements...

The Framework Demonstration Projects Program (FDPP) supports cooperative projects that test the means by which the geospatial data community can work together to build and maintain the data framework for the NSDI. These projects will test the institutions and technology needed for framework operations, and demonstrate the sustained ability to supply data over a geographic area from locally available data sources. FDPP projects will provide guidance on policies and practices for establishing other operational framework sites, act as examples of applied framework for other implementers, and provide a springboard for future research and development.

The following were awarded a total of approximately $800,000:

    A Statewide Framework of Public Lands Data Using Locally Derived Cadastres, North Carolina Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

    Creating a Federally Compliant State and Local Delivery System for High Resolution Framework Data, Earth Data Analysis Center - University of New Mexico

    Assessing the Framework Model Within a Collaborative Multi-Jurisdictional Local, Regional, and State Setting, Minnesota Office of Strategic and Long Range Planning

    Utah Cadastral Integration Project, Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center

    Vermont Spatial Data Partnership Project, Vermont Center for Geographic Information, Inc.

    The Baltimore-Washington Regional Digital Spatial Data Framework Demonstration Project for the Gwynns Falls Subwatershed, University of Maryland Baltimore County

    The North Texas GIS Consortium Spatial Data Warehouse, University of Texas

For additional information describing the FDPP projects and contact information see the Framework home page or contact the FGDC Secretariat.

Community Expertise Hones Framework Concept

The community-based approach to develop and maintain commonly-needed data described in the FGDC report "Development of a National Geospatial Data Framework" appeals to many public and private organizations. They see it as a way to share resources, improve communications, and increase efficiency. Many are developing framework-like activities in their geographic areas. In 1996, more than 40 individuals from local, regional, State, and Federal government agencies and the vendor community met to pool experiences from their projects, to critique the framework concept, and to identify steps needed to move forward. The group: characterized the functions needed in framework activities: data production, data management, data distribution, resource management, clearinghouse participation, coordination, policy development, and working with users. Identified approaches to organize these activities:

    the most common approaches include efforts organized by State GIS councils, by consortia of agencies in a region, and on a project basis.

    listed techniques needed to implement the framework concept fully and identified shortcomings in current technology: includes data generalization, geographic data transactions, integration of data developed by different organizations, data certification, and permanent geographic feature identifiers.

    constructed a business planning template for framework projects.

    developed and tested a way to identify the information content proposed for the framework. The approach uses data modeling techniques to identify data that are common to many applications and organizations.

    identified incentives needed for the framework.

The four-meeting series was sponsored by the FGDC. Additional information developed at the meetings is available through the FGDC home page at Organizations pursuing framework projects will find the information to be a very valuable resource. The FGDC uses the material in the framework handbook, and for planning its 1997 activities.

NSGIC, FGDC Agree to Survey Framework Data Development

In September, the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and the FGDC entered into an 18-month cooperative agreement to develop and maintain information about the status of data that can contribute to the framework for the NSDI. The first phase will provide an initial "snapshot" of data available nationally at all levels of government. Phase two will develop guidelines for implementing and maintaining ongoing inventories of data, and provide a means to report this information through the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse.

"The results of this effort will provide important tools for measuring progress of the NSDI," states Hank Garie, NSGIC president and principal investigator for the project. "All levels of government will benefit if tools are available to help organizations keep an accurate inventory of their framework data. This study brings together the collective resources of states, local governments, and the FGDC to measure progress in ways that will ultimately empower those collecting spatial data at the grass roots."

The project will be guided by a project management team led by Karen Siderelis, Director of the North Carolina Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. For more information about the project, contact the Center (by telephone at (919) 733-2090 or through the Internet at or NSGIC (by telephone at (603) 643-1600, through the Internet at, or through the NSGIC home page at: nsgic/index.html).

Status of the NSDI Data Clearinghouse

Clearinghouse Software... The National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse is designed to promote the availability of digital spatial data on the Internet through use of relevant technical standards. In 1995, a prototype Clearinghouse was initiated that used the 1988 version of the Z39.50 Search and Retrieve protocol. Eleven sites in federal, state, and university settings created searchable nodes using this configuration as a proof-of-concept. These sites can be visited through a multi-server query form at:

The Z39.50 standard, like most information technology standards, has been revised since 1988 to support new features. Versions 2 and 3 take a fundamentally different approach than Version 1 -- away from indexed full-text and towards support of registered fields and operators. The newer versions readily allow information to be stored in complex ways, including traditional databases.

Given the obsolescence of the 1988 Version of the Z39.50 standard and an interest in harmonizing and sharing data elements with the Government Information Locator Service (GILS), the Clearinghouse is beginning its transition from the prototype to include features present in Version 2 of Z39.50. To make this process easier, the FGDC and cooperating agencies have funded the Center for Networked Information Discovery and Retrieval (CNIDR) to enhance their public distribution of the Isite suite of Z39.50 server and indexer software.

This enhancement will accommodate the complex data types in the FGDC Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata. Users will be able to query on all the fields listed in the Metadata Standard as opposed to the few fields supported in freeWAIS-sf, based on the 1988 versions of Z39.50. The Isite software has been alpha tested by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in prototyping service of digital orthophotos, the State of North Carolina in configuring central and distributed Clearinghouse nodes, and the USGS in demonstrating a searchable service for Everglades scientific data in the South Florida Ecosystem.

CNIDR and the Naval Research Lab are also collaborating in the creation of the gateway server that can support true parallel search of multiple on-line servers, as opposed to the serial search provided by the interface used in the prototype. A Java query interface is ready to provide multiple methods for discovering spatial data. An HTML interface is also available with similar, but necessarily limited, capabilities. The availability of the gateway service and the Java and HTML interfaces will be announced.

A step-by-step, clickable tutorial interface has been built in two versions to assist those interested in setting up a Clearinghouse Node. Both are intended for self-paced creation of an NSDI Clearinghouse Node. These tutorials are available from the FGDC Clearinghouse Home Page. Isite and mp tool software will be downloadable through this interface as compiled binaries for various platforms arebuilt.

Encoding Guideline for Geospatial Metadata...

At the request of the FGDC Coordination Group, a formal guideline is being drafted to specify an encoding guideline for geospatial metadata for use within the FGDC activities. The lack of exchange, presentation, or data model guidance in the existing standard makes the exchange and search of structured geospatial metadata difficult. The guideline will be used primarily for the Clearinghouse. It will specify the formal rules for encoding FGDC metadata to assure maximum interoperability. An encoding guideline does not specify how the data are internally managed but specifies how it should be structured for exchange with other applications including metadata collection tools and Clearinghouse. The document is available through the Clearinghouse home page at:

Bathymetric Data Workshop for San Francisco Bay

The FGDC Subcommittee for Bathymetric Data and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission are co-sponsoring a 1-day workshop on December 6th in the San Francisco Bay area to discuss with Federal, state, and local representatives the development of a "definitive" bathymetric data base to share among the various data users and producers in the area. The focus will be on issues relating to data quality, data fusion, data base maintenance, data distribution, and potential products from the data base. Discussion of concepts currently being developed through FGDC framework pilot projects and workshops is also planned. Those agencies or individuals interested in participating at the San Francisco workshop should contact either the Bathymetric Subcommittee Secretary (see below) or Capt. Thomas Richards (E-mail:

Workshop organizers are especially interested in involving representatives from Federal agencies (e.g., COE, USGS, USCG, EPA) who have local offices and are actively involved in data collection in the Bay area. For additional information on subcommittee activities, please visit the Bathymetric Subcommittee Home Page at: text/bathy.html

Standards Working Group

The past several months have been busy ones for the FGDC Standards Working Group (SWG). Seven FGDC standards have been submitted to the SWG for review prior to their release for public comment. In the coming months, watch for the announcement for the public comment period for these standards in the Federal Register, on the Standards Working Group home page, and the home page of the sponsoring subcommittee or working group:

    Soils Geographic Data Standard, Soils Subcommittee

    Standard for Digital Orthoimagery, Subcommittee on Base Cartographic Data

    Standard for Digital Elevation Data, Subcommittee on Base Cartographic Data

    Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard: Part 1 Introduction, Federal Geodetic Control Subcommittee

    Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard: Part 2 Standard for Geodetic Networks, Federal Geodetic Control Subcommittee

    Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard: Part 3 National Standard for Spatial Data Accuracy, Subcommittee on Base Cartographic Data

    SDTS Point Profile, Federal Geodetic Control Subcommittee

The SWG is also in the process of finalizing its recommendations to the Coordination Group on the readiness for final endorsement of the following two standards:

    Classification of Wetlands and Deep Water Habitats, Wetlands Subcommittee

    Cadastral Data Content Standard, Subcommittee on Cadastral Data

Additionally, five proposals have been approved by the SWG for the development of FGDC standards. They are:

    Facility ID Standard, Facilities Working Group

    CADD Profile to SDTS, Facilities Working Group

    Utilities Geospatial Data Content Standard, Facilities Working Group

    Address Content Standard, Subcommittee on Cultural and Demographic Data

    Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata: Thematic Supplement for Geospatially Referenced Cultural and Demographic Data Metadata, Subcommittee on Cultural and Demographic Data

    Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard, Geodetic Subcommittee

The U.S. Corp of Engineers has completed phase one of their effort to build an integrated feature registry and demonstrated the prototype at the October meetings of the SWG and the Coordination Group. In this "proof of concept phase" the Corp translated content standards for wetlands, base cartographic data, and vegetation into a common data model, the entity attribute model of SDTS. A search capability and user interface was also designed for this database and the Corps will make recommendations for full implementation of the features registry. The goal of this project is full integration among all themes of data

For more information on Standards Working Group activities and for the status of FGDC standards, visit the FGDC home page.

The Future of the Metadata Standard

The revision of the Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata will begin soon. This revision will address the experiences of metadata implementers throughout the country. The MITRE Corporation is assisting the FGDC in this revision effort, which will be conducted almost entirely on the Internet using web pages, discussion lists, and hypermail. Some of the goals of this revision effort are to maintain compatibility with previous metadata implementations, and to achieve compatibility with the emerging international metadata standard.

Anyone with an interest in metadata or the Standard is encouraged to participate in this revision effort. Information and instructions will be available on the FGDC home page. A preliminary document with comments and suggestions collected during the past several months is being prepared and will serve as a first list of discussion points for the Standard revision effort. If you would like to contribute to this initial document, please e-mail your suggestions to the address below as soon as possible. The revised standard will be presented through the Standards Working Group for final approval by the FGDC.

The results of the MITRE Corporation's 1995-6 contract with the FGDC to survey metadata implementors and collect information on metadata tools and searchable sets is also available on the FGDC home page.

Contact information: E-mail your comments/suggestions to:
For more information contact:
Billy Tolar, Metadata Coordinator
Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)
590 National Center
Reston VA 22092

National Wetlands Inventory Commended in Minnesota

Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson recently presented the National Wetlands Inventory of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with a Certificate of Commendation in recognition of the NWI's achievements in developing and distributing Minnesota's portion of the digital National Wetlands Inventory. Governor Carlson recognized the NWI's pioneering approach to data access through the Internet that has provided Minnesotans with an exceptionally valuable, cost-effective and readily-available source of digital data. NWI data are particularly useful in land use planning efforts to balance environmental and economic concerns with the wise use of natural resources.

The NWI is a significant building block in the development of NSDI and supports the principles of data sharing partnerships and the use of common standards vital to NSDI development. The governor stated that the Fish and Wildlife Service's insight in anticipating the need for this kind of information and the strong state and local partnerships with such groups as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources produced a product that provides broad benefits to both the public and private sectors of Minnesota.

Digital wetland data is available for about 30% of the United States. Approximately 180,000 files have been downloaded through the Internet in the past 2 years the NWI site. The National Wetlands Inventory may be accessed through Internet address at:

To Contact the FGDC:

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 indicated below:

FGDC Secretariat Contact Information
Mailing Address:
Federal Geographic Data Committee
Secretariat, c/o U.S. Geological Survey
590 National Center
Reston, VA 20192

Voice: (703) 648-5514
Fax: (703) 648-5755

FGDC Information and Documents
FTP via Internet
User name: anonymous
Password: "your E-mail address"
After connecting: cd pub

README.DOC file has current information on the files in each subdirectory.
FGDC home page
Questions and requests via E-mail at bottom of FGDC home page.

FGDC Publications
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Upcoming Conferences
Nov 14-17 Regional Science Assoc. International Washington, DC NSDI
Nov 16-22 GIS/LIS ‘96 Denver, CO NSDI
Nov 21-22 Washington State GIS Seattle, WA Ch, Md, Fw
Nov 18 GIS in Illinois, 96 Annual Conference Schaumburg, IL
Dec 9-11 1996 Texas GIS Forum Austin, TX Std, Ch
Jan 22-24 Nevada GIS Conference Reno, NV
Mar 2-4 GIS/GPS Conference ‘97 Doha, Qatar
Mar 23-26 AM/FM International Conference Nashville, TN
Apr 7-9 ACSM-ASPRS Annual Convention Seattle, WA
Apr 16-18 Joint European Conf.On Geog.Information Vienna, Austria
Apr 28-30 1997 Montana GIS Conference Bozeman, MT Ch
May 1-2 6th Annual IMAGIN Forum Lansing, MI Ch, Fw
May 13-16 7th Annual GPS/GIS Conference Annapolis, MD
June 15-21 University Consortium for GIS Annual Assembly Bar Harbor, ME
July 20-24 URISA ‘97 Conference Toronto, Canada
Sept 14-16 ICMA 83rd Annual Conference Vancouver, Canada
Oct 26-30 GIS/LIS 1997 Cincinnati, OH

FGDC sessions & workshops indicated thus: NSDI - general, Ch - Clearinghouse, Md - Metadata, Fw - Framework, & Std - Standards. FGDC sessions subject to change. For more information please contact the FGDC Secretariat.

U.S. Department of the Interior,
U.S. Geological Survey,
590 National Center,
Reston, VA 20192

Last Updated: Jan 17, 2006 12:45 PM
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