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August 27, 2003
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On the Geospatial One-Stop portal and run for the border.

On the Geospatial One-Stop Portal

The reality of the Internet Age and the efforts of true collaboration have rendered the first web-based portal for all things geospatial. A new government initiative aimed at creating “one-stop” access to geospatial information and resources was launched on June 30, 2003. GeoData.gov was launched by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of the Interior in its initial form to help decrease government spending on geospatial data and make it more accessible to users. The application aims to do this by allowing multiple users in different locations to share information while integrating data from many sources. The interface is also intended to be very user-friendly, with a goal for existing and planned data to be accessible with two clicks or less. Map services from multiple sources, using the National Map as the starting point, will be available for users.

GeoData.gov is an offshoot of Geospatial One-Stop, one of President Bush’s 24 E-Government initiatives outlined in a February 2002 budget submission to Congress. The purpose of these initiatives is to make government more focused on citizens and results by using improved Internet-based technology to allow citizens and businesses to interact with the government, save taxpayer dollars and streamline citizen-to-government communications. Reducing redundant spending on geospatial data and duplication of that data is part of that process.

“Nearly every government program uses geospatial technology in some capacity. However not every program needs to buy its own data and build its own systems,” said Mark Forman, administrator of E-Government and Information Technology at the OMB. “By promoting collaboration and streamlining programs across government jurisdictions, GeoData.gov is E-Government at its best. By adopting the ‘buy once, use many’ approach of electronic government, the Geospatial One-Stop initiative is reducing duplicative spending while improving government effectiveness.”

A Board of Directors representing state, local, tribal and federal agencies comprised of the International City/County Management Association, the Intertribal GIS Council, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, the National States Geographic Information Council, the National Association of Counties (NACO), the National League of Cities, the Western Governors Association, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Transportation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) unanimously decided upon a one-year strategy to implement an Internet portal as part of the Geospatial One-Stop initiative.

GeoData.Gov is the initial step in the strategy. This website and portal, built by ESRI of Redlands, Calif., allows interested parties to view data arranged in various categories, make custom maps, search for specific data, register as publishers of data and publish data. A GeoData.gov marketplace allows users to to quickly find the latest geographic activities or data sharing initiatives in the country. Jack Dangermond, ESRI president, has called the portal the “GIS superhighway.”

The remaining steps to be completed in the one-year strategy are to increase the amount of information on the portal by 20 percent each month after its launch; to have 10 federal partners who will provide resources to help run the portal; to develop 10 geospatial data cost sharing partnerships among federal, state and local governments; to disseminate 5,000 datasets via the Geospatial One-Stop during the first quarter of operation and increase data sharing by 10 percent each month thereafter; and to develop and deploy standards for 12 critical geospatial layers.

The Land Survey Information System

Surveyors may be interested in the cadastral portion of the portal, especially those working in Public Land Survey System states, for which data is available. According to the website, this section, called the Land Survey Information System (LSIS) located at www.lsi.blm.gov, “provides a listing of the most relevant metadata records of information pertaining to interests in real property or used in planning and development efforts.” It includes data layers such as township boundaries, sections boundaries and control points. Surveyors will be able to publish data in this system, as well as access information that has already been uploaded to the site.

Working Out the Kinks

Eleven theme and sub-theme working drafts of standards for the Geospatial One-Stop Initiative, including GeoData control, are available for public review and comment online now at www.geodata.gov. This informal review has been ongoing throughout the summer; a formal public review is expected in late 2003.

The Geospatial One Stop has broad and far-reaching implications, if it advances as planned. The problem with attempting a project of this magnitude is synergizing the efforts of many different entities. ACSM Executive Director Curt Sumner commented, “conceptually, attempting to have one entity to gather, distribute and share spatial information is a good idea. The concern is whether or not it will work logistically.” He added that it would be difficult to have one set of data compiled that would serve everybody’s needs. In order to do that, a very high standard of accuracy would have to be achieved. With many users not requiring this high standard, the cost of attaining it could become prohibitive.

If the wrinkles inherent in a government undertaking this large can be ironed out, the Geospatial One-Stop will be beneficial to everyone—surveyors, GIS professionals and the public alike.

Run for the Border

If you look at a map of the Southwestern United States and follow the eastern border of New Mexico down from Oklahoma, you will see a slight westward jog when you hit Texas. This deviation is small, only about three miles. Along the length of the 320-mile Texas-New Mexico border however, it amounts to 603,485 acres that are now considered to be part of Texas. A New Mexico senator wants these acres back.

When New Mexico sought its statehood in 1910, the federal government found that John H. Clark, the surveyor who determined the line in 1859, set the border, which was supposed to follow the 103rd meridian, too far west. Federal officials resurveyed the line after New Mexico’s territorial officials protested the error in a 1910 draft for statehood, finding the line to indeed be off. But legend has it that Texas’ response was for New Mexico to drop the issue or forget about becoming a state. They did and in 1912, became the 47th state to enter the union.

The border saga continues as a New Mexico Senate Bill 815 introduced by Senator Shannon Robinson proposes to appropriate $100,000 to the Office of the Attorney General to reclaim the land and also receive compensation for “subsurface mineral rights, oil and gas royalties and income, property taxes and grazing privileges.” If New Mexico does reclaim the strip of land, towns like Farwell, Bledsoe and Bronco would be in New Mexico instead of Texas, where they have been for almost 100 years.

The land commissioners from the two states have jokingly agreed to settle the dispute Old West-style, with a duel on the border. So far, no lawsuit has been filed and the date for the duel has yet to be set.

Associate Editor Emily Vass compiles “The Latest News.” If you have a timely, newsworthy item, contact her at 248/244-6465 or E-mail vasse@bnp.com. Also visit www.pobonline.com for daily news updates.

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