the broader and more ambitious goal of a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).2 The NSDI is the work of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC, 2011), and the USGS is an important contributor to this multi-partner effort. The key design focus of the USGS SDI, and therefore the focus of the present study, is to support science in the agency and to address key disciplines of water, geology, biology, and geography. An important secondary goal is to support science in other federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, academe, and the private sector.
The USGS recently dissolved the organizational structure around the four core disciplines of water, geology, biology, and geography and reorganized around the strategic directions outlined in the landmark 2007 Science Strategy (USGS, 2007). The reorganization is significant with respect to SDI development because it establishes an Associate Directorship for Core Science Systems, which includes the National Geospatial Program. Because the Science Strategy outlines the future science directions for the agency, the present committee adopted the six science directions in it—ecosystems, climate, energy and minerals, hazards, environmental health, and water—as the focus of this report for optimizing an SDI. Indeed, the members selected for the committee were identified to address each of those directions.
The Science Strategy clearly defines a need for geospatial data to support each of the science directions. In the opinion of this committee, an SDI is so important for supporting the six directions that it probably deserved its own chapter in the Science Strategy report as an underpinning to those six directions. The committee hopes that this report can serve as the “missing chapter” of that important document.
This report incorporates state-of-the-art SDI concepts for consideration by the USGS. Our review of contemporary SDIs in use today in government, academe, and private industry provided the basis for adapting these concepts to the needs of the USGS. Clearly, keeping an SDI relevant over time will require the USGS to regularly review developments in SDI components.
There are not likely to be any surprises in the committee’s definition of an optimal vision for an SDI for the USGS. Much has been written and debated publicly on the subject (e.g., NRC, 1993, 1995, 2001; Onsrund, 2007), and the Survey has held recent workshops to review the concepts. A focus on execution and defining a roadmap as called for in the third item of the Statement of Task (Box S.1) is the USGS’s primary need with regard to an SDI. Although it is neither appropriate nor feasible for the committee to recommend changes in the
2Executive Order 12906, published in 1994 and amended in 2003, initiated the development of a coordinated National Spatial Data Infrastructure and National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse and called for the establishment of spatial data standards, partnerships for data acquisition, and a National Digital Geospatial Data Framework.