A final consideration in the discussion of the public domain is data security. For example, local governments may want to integrate private utility data into local datasets for public safety or infrastructure design programs. Without assurances that their critical data would be publicly unavailable, full cooperation of local entities with the USGS program is unlikely. The USGS will need to review issues related to security of proprietary and other limited access data in conjunction with the public domain. While the coarser nature of the enhanced National Atlas scale will protect much of the content, other means of addressing security will need to be researched and clarified to all potential partners.


The committee sees advantages in labeling the integrated, nationally consistent database (the “blanket”) as the enhanced National Atlas, building from the success of an existing program. The National Map would be a “patchwork quilt” of data and metadata contributed from local, state, tribal, and private agencies. As a result of partnership arrangements coordinated by the USGS, these data would be submitted to the USGS for checking and some would gain official inclusion in the enhanced National Atlas. The partnerships would leverage existing data, reduce duplication of effort, and improve timeliness of updates.

Content for The National Map and the enhanced National Atlas should be thematically identical at their core but allow for variants in scale and specifications at the local level. The pertinent themes include the Framework and base cartographic layers and the thematic layers identified in OMB Circular No. A-16. These are already the subject of discussion and standards development within the FGDC, and there is much to be gained by using these specifications for the thematic content of The National Map and enhanced National Atlas. The data should be in the public domain and should be integrated into the Federal Depository Library program. Lastly, there may be value in incorporating direct input from the general public, especially in detecting errors and making updates.

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