materials, threatened and endangered species, and wetlands. Data were organized and presented as products from a geographic information system, which is capable of analyzing associations among the various types of data and provides the ability to map in detail individual reaches of the river system and adjacent environments (see Plate 10).

The work of this task force continues a tradition of contributions by geographers to federal management of flood problems. Previous reports by Edward A. Ackerman for the President's Water Resources Policy Commission (1950) and by Gilbert White for the Bureau of the Budget Task Force on Federal Flood Control (1966) have strongly influenced national floodplain management policies over the past five decades.

National Information Infrastructure

Government and business requirements for digital spatial data have stimulated a major effort to develop a national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI) along with associated spatial data transfer standards (see Chapter 5) and a national geospatial data clearinghouse (e.g., NRC, 1993b). Spatial data are useful in a wide variety of commercial applications ranging from marketing to navigation. Such applications require a publicly accessible spatial data infrastructure, digital cartographic databases, and global positioning systems (GPSs). Spatial data and associated geographic information analysis methods are also emerging as an integral part of national health policy discussions because many managed health care programs serve populations of geographically defined areas (e.g., Lasker et al., 1995).

Development of the NSDI has resulted in the creation of national georeferenced databases containing information about individuals. Such databases have fueled explosive growth in applications such as political canvassing, advertising, and travel. Geographers are contributing to the development of databases that allow easy access to such information. They are also engaged in research to assess who should have access to the data, how such access will affect the distribution of information and power in society, and what new legal and ethical principles will be necessary to control abuse in this rapidly developing area (Pickles, 1995a).

Creation of the NSDI is central to providing spatial data to the nation. In April 1994 President Clinton signed an executive order supporting the NSDI. The project will be directed by the Federal Geographic Data Committee through the Cartographic Requirements, Coordinating and Standards Program of the USGS. The NSDI will lead to the establishment of a geospatial data clearing-house—a distributed network of geospatial data producers, managers, and users linked electronically. The clearinghouse will publicize data availability, facilitate links between data suppliers and users, and ultimately provide direct access to data.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement