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A Worldwide Multiparticipant Environment

The Geography Network Brings Together Users and Data

The Geography Network (www.geographynetwork.com) is turning into a reality the vision of creating an environment for publishing and using GIS information over the Internet. Since its announcement in June 2000, the Geography Network logoGeography Network has connected users of geographic data with data and service providers from around the world. With a vast metadata catalog referencing spatial data and services, the Geography Network allows more people to access and use more geographic data than ever before. Available on the Internet and completely service focused, it is a new platform for GIS. Around the world, the Geography Network will facilitate public and private organizations participating and sharing data.

The Geography Network is for you. You can use other peoples' data and map services. You can publish your own data. You can also create new services to serve new communities. And data, maps, and services can serve many audiences at various levels.

For example, geographic content can be published as a map service using ArcIMS and registered on the Geography Network. Another user in a separate organization can access that map service from the Internet and combine it with other geographic content to create new map services and register it on the Geography Network. Yet another user can access this new map service and add it to ArcMap, in ArcGIS 8.1, as a layer on their desktop with their own local geographic data as additional layers. The possibilities for the use of content on the Geography Network are numerous.

An Open System

The Geography Network complements and supports the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The Geography Network recognizes the good work the U.S. government has done through the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) in their efforts to create an NSDI.

The Geography Network is an open system. Vendors with technologies that follow the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) standards and protocol can connect to the Geography Network and use the data freely. Esri builds technology to support this, as well as to maintain the Geography Network portal, the metadata catalog, and the search engine. Esri also provides technology, promotes GIS and geography, and hosts some different data types.

Providing a World of Data

Geographynetwork.com is a portal that references the nodes in this vast network of geographic data. It provides a gateway for searching for spatial data by maintaining a registry of data, maps, and solutions, connecting users to the data and services they need.

Currently, there are more than 600 services on the Geography Network from a wide variety of providers. The types of content on the Geography Network includes map services, geo-services, solutions, and data sets, which are published by both commercial companies and noncommercial organizations such as federal, regional, and local government agencies. One of the government organizations featured on the Geography Network is the USGS, which is publishing components/services from the National Atlas program and the USGS National Elevation Data Set.

The USGS National Atlas Program
The USGS National Atlas program is a unique partnership among 20 federal agencies and the private sector. It provides a comprehensive map-like view into the enormous wealth of data collected by the U.S. federal government. It makes this information more accessible to individuals and provides an integrated view of the national data to many. The National Atlas provides links to current and real-time events and delivers scientific, societal, and historical information. The electronically based atlas not only provides a complete range of traditional maps, but it also enables citizens to experiment with their own individually created maps in order to better understand the complex relationships between the places and the people of the United States. The ability that the atlas and the Geography Network provide to create a "do-it-at-home" GIS is a breakthrough. It is a challenging goal to give a person at home this capability.

The USGS and the National Elevation Data Set
The USGS National Elevation Data Set (NED) has been developed by merging the highest-resolution, best-quality elevation data available across the United States into a seamless raster format. NED is the result of the USGS effort to provide 1:24,000-scale Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data for the conterminous United States.

Satellite Imagery

There are several new providers to the Geography Network specializing in satellite imagery. OrbImage is bringing its OrbView Cities online and publishing them on the Geography Network. The OrbView Cities product line includes images of major cities up to 12 bits per pixel, guaranteed geolocation accuracy, at a 1:24,000 mapping scale. They will continually expand the aerial imagery line leading up to the launch of OrbImage's high-resolution imaging satellites, OrbView-3 and OrbView-4. Following the launch, OrbView Cities will be expanded to include hundreds of cities worldwide that are updated regularly.

Another imagery provider is Earth Satellite Corporation. This imagery is a simulated natural color seamless mosaic of portions of the 445 Landsat Thematic Mapper images of the United States. Image resolution has been re-sampled down to a pixel resolution of 142.5 meters. While the uncompressed digital image is just under two gigabytes in size, it is also available as a 58-megabyte compressed image in MrSID format. This image is perfect as a backdrop for vector data across the continental United States.

DTN Weather Services
This data provider offers continually updated information on rainfall estimates in the continental United States every hour and every 24 hours. The data is available at five-kilometer and two-kilometer resolution. DTN Weather Services also monitors mixed precipitation types and updates maps every five minutes. These maps are available at one-kilometer resolution.

IGN France

IGN France provides data on the City of Paris, France, at street level with address ranges. Users can add this service to any software that reads shapefiles including Esri's free geographic data viewer, ArcExplorer.

For more information, contact Brian Harris, Esri (tel.: 909-793-2853, ext. 1-2643; e-mail: bharris@esri.com).

See also "Join the Geography Network Challenge."

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