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Building a GIS Foundation

The Geospatial One-Stop (GOS) portal ( is an important part of the United States' E-Government strategy to make government more responsive and cost-effective through expanding the use of the Internet and computer resources to deliver government services and provide a government that is citizen centered, results oriented, and market based.

Because nearly every aspect of government has a geographic component, geospatial data and tools are needed to support both the business of government and decision making in response to events and issues. Geospatial information can facilitate cross agency coordination and allow decisions to be viewed in a community context.

This portal, built by Esri in just eight weeks, dramatically increases data access for both government and the public by providing data that is shareable by anyone, anywhere. Geospatial One-Stop leverages the investments already made in developing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and takes advantage of advances in geospatial information technologies that allow greater collaboration across all levels of government. The site not only simplifies the search for data, it also centralizes access to services and lets users visualize map services across multiple servers; publish metadata and services; and learn about geospatial activities, standards, and other related information.

Built with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software and based on open standards, the site is secure and supported 24/7 with fail-over capabilities. The portal was designed to be open and interoperable with virtually any GIS dataset or service. In crafting GOS, Esri paid particular attention to both Web services standards and emerging GIS standards from the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). In June 2003, Esri delivered the Geospatial One-Stop portal to the government. Portal users can now

  • Search for image and feature Web services, images, geographic datasets, contacts, activities, and clearinghouses.
  • View metadata.
  • Access and view available geographic data and Web services directly through the portal.
  • Download large datasets from providers through feature streaming or FTP services.
  • Publish (i.e., register) map services, images, geographic datasets, geoservices, spatial solutions, geographic and land reference material, and geographic activities or events to share with others through submission of online provider forms within the Geospatial One-Stop portal.

By the end of 2003, 24 federal agencies had posted 214 datasets, according to Federal Computer Week. The Geospatial One-Stop is the foundation for building a GIS for the nation and responding to federal business drivers that demand better service to citizens, more collaboration, improved efficiency, and improved homeland security. The GIS user community is encouraged to participate by visiting and registering geospatial data and Web services.

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