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Geography Network Continues to Grow

Geography Network logo By creating an Internet community for sharing spatial data, the Geography Network is experiencing great success. The Geography Network allows organizations to share data and resources via the Internet, thus making geographic information accessible to agencies, companies, and individuals for a fee or simply free of charge. The network is growing at a phenomenal rate, and consequently, it is this very rate of growth that is the basis for the network's own success. Launched in June 2000, the Geography Network already offers more than 900 services. Why is this concept flowering? Geography Network participants find that shared geographic information brings people and ideas together.

Much more than a device for exchanging hyperlinks, the Geography Network is a portal for agencies to share their data among themselves and with consumers. Publishing is easy for those using either Esri's ArcIMS software or any WMS-compliant software package. Furthermore, agencies that participate in the Geography Network will find it an uncomplicated means for embracing the e-government initiative.

Thinking Globally

The originators of the Geography Network have global ideas. They endorse industry standard formats and technology because these simplify the publishing of geographic data on the Internet. Therefore, Geography Network supports the federal government's strategies for the dissemination of geographic data and operates in accordance with the Open GIS Consortium's support of WMS services, a methodology for publishing geographic data in a standardized format over the Internet.

Abiding by consistency of formats obviously creates compatibility for sharing information. Hence, this compatibility enables the Geography Network to offer a wealth of data from both public and private sector organizations. The network also maintains a registry of data, maps, and solutions, connecting users to the data and services they need. A vast array of data is available including satellite imagery, traffic incident information, political boundaries, socioeconomic, weather and precipitation, elevation range, vegetation type, land use, and much more.

For instance, one of the newest enhancements to the Geography Network is the addition of street data from Geography Data Technology (GDT). GDT delivers its Dynamap Streets and Address database to users via the Geography Network. These geographic map databases are used for location-based applications including route management, Web map design, emergency response, in-car navigation, site selection, risk analysis, and facilities management. By accessing this database through the Geography Network, users can be assured of instant access to the most current version of GDT data.

Individual users are discovering the many advantages of Geography Network's array of services. They can use data and map services from public and private organizations to enhance their own projects. Through the Geography Network, an individual may find that crucial piece of data that ignites an entirely new philosophical perspective on the world—or the information that sparks the down-to-earth insight needed to make everyday decisions.

ArcGIS as a Portal

ArcGIS users can access any Geography Network map service as if it was another layer of information on the desktop geographic information system. ArcGIS users can interact with Geography Network Live Map Services to display maps, pan and zoom, apply projections, and so on. According to Jack Dangermond, Esri president, "ArcGIS 8.1 will help the Geography Network realize its full potential as a valuable source of geographic information services."

The Geography Network invites organizations around the world to unite in this spatial data exchange endeavor. Some public sector organizations already participating in the Geography Network include the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Library of Congress, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Bringing together the efforts of participants willing to join their databases and geographic services, Geography Network is rapidly becoming a thriving worldwide service. The Geography Network is built on community. People who contribute to this social endeavor make the complex world of information a gentler place to live.

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