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Winter 2004/2005
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National Geographic and NPS Increase Access to Park Data

The National Geographic Society has championed America's national parks for nearly a century through its magazines, maps, books, television programming, Federal GIS logoand Web site. Now, the National Park Service (NPS) and National Geographic have formalized the relationship between the two organizations and paved the way for more collaborative efforts.

National Geographic and NPS recently signed an agreement to make the vast amount of geographic data collected in the parks more accessible to consumers and park officials through National Geographic's innovative map technologies, including its popular MapMachine Web site ( and other consumer mapping projects and products. Averaging more than one million page views a week, the MapMachine is built using Esri's ArcWeb Services.

The agreement was signed September 27, 2004, at an event at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., where the National Park Service also unveiled the completion of its Civil War Soldiers and Sailors (CWSS) System database.

Esri participated in the event by showing an Audio Video Interleaved file of an ArcGIS 3D Analyst software's ArcGlobe fly-through tracing the routes of two civil war soldiers, one from each side of the conflict. The fly-through featured images of maps from the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress, satellite imagery, and NPS data.

More than 10 years in the making and perhaps one of the largest databases on the Internet, the CWSS System database holds more than 6.3 million names and includes regimental histories, digital images of monuments, and national park battlefields. One of the first projects under the new agreement will be to marry the CWSS resource with National Geographic's mapping technology and GIS software from Esri.

"We are thrilled to announce the completion of this wonderful project," says Fran Mainella, director of the National Park Service. "By making this database available to the millions of Americans who are descendants of Civil War soldiers, we are cultivating future stewards to help us preserve Civil War history. National parks are America's link to our collective heritage, and it is our mission to make this history accessible to the public. Our alliance with National Geographic, one of the most respected educational and scientific institutions in the world, offers us the ability to maximize the content of this program in a way we could never do on our own. We are assuring that the public receives the best tools and technology to participate in celebrating and understanding the American experience."

"National Geographic maps have been helping people explore the nation's parks for decades," says Allen Carroll, National Geographic's chief cartographer. "Our maps are recognized around the world for their content, accuracy, and beauty. This agreement will allow us to make our maps even richer and more up-to-date in a variety of user-friendly formats that will help people experience, appreciate, and protect the amazing resources and sites in our national parks."

For more information, contact Gavin Maurer, National Geographic Society (tel.: 1-800-962-1643, e-mail:

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