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Mapping Science Committee

Board on Earth Sciences and Resources

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

National Academy Press
Washington, D.C.

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE Mapping Science Committee Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council National Academy Press Washington, D.C. 1995

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approvedby the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose membersare drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences,the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosenfor their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors accordingto procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting ofmembers of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academyof Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Support for this study by the Mapping Science Committee was providedby the Defense Mapping Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureauof Land Management, and the Bureau of the Census. Copies of this report are available from Mapping Science Committee Board on Earth Sciences and Resources National Research Council 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Cover: A computer-generated perspective looking southeast towardMassanutten Peak in the Harrisonburg, Va., area. The perspectivewas generated by combining three U.S. Geological Survey digital dataproducts: elevation data, line graph data, and orthophotography (thedigital orthophoto for this area is shown as Figure 2 within the report). Figure courtesy of R. DeAngelis of the U.S.Geological Survey, Reston. Copyright 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE MAPPING SCIENCE COMMITTEE LARRY J. SUGARBAKER, Chairman, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Olympia LAWRENCE F. AYERS, Vice-Chairman, Intergraph Corporation, Reston VA HUGH N. ARCHER, PlanGraphics, Inc., Frankfort, KY WILLIAM M. BROWN, Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, Ann Arbor BARBARA P. BUTTENFIELD, State University of New York, Buffalo MICHAEL W. DOBSON, Rand McNally and Company, Skokie, IL FREDERICK J. DOYLE, McLean, VA (retired, U.S. Geological Survey) MICHAEL J. FOLK, University of Illinois, Urbana LEE C. GERHARD, Kansas Geological Survey, Lawrence MICHAEL F. GOODCHILD, University of California, Santa Barbara STANLEY K. HONEY, The News Corporation, Ltd., Los Angeles, CA TERRENCE J. KEATING, Autometrics, Inc., Bangor, ME MICHAEL D. MARVIN, MapInfo Corporation, Troy, NY SARA L. MCLAFFERTY, Hunter College, New York, NY KAREN C. SIDERELIS, North Carolina Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, Raleigh,NC ROBERT TUFTS, TASC, Reston, VA NANCY VON MEYER, Fairview Industries, Middleton, WI NRC Staff THOMAS M. USSELMAN, Senior Staff Officer JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant JUDITH L. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant Members Who Completed Their Terms on December 31, 1993 JOHN D. BOSSLER, Chairman, The Ohio State University, Columbus ROBERT LEE CHARTRAND, Naples, FL (retired Congressional Research Service) DONALD F. COOKE, Geographic Data Technology, Inc., Lyme, NH GIULIO MAFFINI, SHL Systemhouse, Inc., Toronto JOHN D. MCLAUGHLIN, University of New Brunswick, Fredricton BERNARD J. NIEMANN, JR., University of Wisconsin, Madison GERARD RUSHTON, University of Iowa

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES FREEMAN GILBERT, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA GAIL M. ASHLEY, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ THURE CERLING, University of Utah, Salt Lake City MARK P. CLOOS, University of Texas at Austin JOEL DARMSTADTER, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC WILLIAM R. DICKINSON, University of Arizona (emeritus) MARCO T. EINAUDI, Stanford University, Stanford, CA NORMAN H. FOSTER, Independent Petroleum Geologist, Denver, CO CHARLES G. GROAT, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge DONALD C. HANEY, Kentucky Geological Survey, Lexington SUSAN M. KIDWELL, Universit of Chicago PHILIP E. LAMOREAUX, P. E. LaMoreaux and Associates, Inc., Tuscaloosa, AL SUSAN M. LANDON, Thomasson Partner Associates, Denver, CO J. BERNARD MINSTER, University of California, San Diego ALEXANDRA NAVROTSKY, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ JILL D. PASTERIS, Washington University, St. Louis, MO EDWARD C. ROY, JR., Trinity University, San Antonio, TX NRC Staff THOMAS M. USSELMAN, Acting Director WILLIAM E. BENSON, Senior Program Officer KEVIN CROWLEY, Senior Program Officer ANNE LINN, Program Officer CHARLES MEADE, Program Officer LALLY A. ANDERSON, Staff Assistant JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant JUDITH L. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant SHELLEY MYERS, Project Assistant

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES M. GORDON WOLMAN, Chairman, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, PA EDITH BROWN WEISS, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC JAMES P. BRUCE, Canadian Climate Program Board, Ottawa, Canada WILLIAM L. FISHER, University of Texas at Austin EDWARD A. FRIEMAN, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville W. BARCLAY KAMB, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena PERRY L. MCCARTY, Stanford University, Stanford, CA S. GEORGE PHILANDER, Priceton University, Pronceton, NJ RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ELLEN SILBERGELD, Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, DC STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parson, Tallahassee, FL NRC Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director MORGAN GOPNIK, Assistant Executive Director JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuatingsociety of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineeringresearch, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technologyand to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of thecharter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has amandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientificand technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the NationalAcademy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, underthe charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organizationof outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administrationand in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academyof Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government.The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programsaimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research,and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. RobertM. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the NationalAcademy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members ofappropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertainingto the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibilitygiven to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charterto be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative,to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr.Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academyof Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science andtechnology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge andof advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance withgeneral policies determined by the Academy, the Council has becomethe principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciencesand the National Academy of Engineering in providing services tothe government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities.The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Instituteof Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Robert M. White are chairmanand vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE PREFACE The Mapping Science Committee serves as a focus for external adviceto the federal agencies on scientific and technical matters relatedto spatial data handling and analysis. The purpose of the committeeis to provide advice on the development of a robust national spatialdata infrastructure for making informed decisions at all levels ofgovernment and throughout society in general. Within the context of the above mission statement, the committeeissued a report in 1993, Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation, that articulated its vision on how spatial information handlingmight best be approached from an organizational perspective. Thereare, of course, many specific issues that are raised when examiningwhat a national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI) encompasses. Thecommittee, with liaison from the Federal Geographic Data Committee(FGDC; operating under the aegis of the Office of Management andBudget), is undertaking a series of focused studies to examine individualcomponents of the NSDI. The need for this study was discussed ata joint meeting of the FGDC and the Mapping Science Committee onFebruary 2, 1993. One purpose of the study was to initiate a discussionaimed at identifying activities and data products that would supportthe NSDI. During the course of its study, the committee became convincedthat a solid foundation of spatial data could enable (with the appropriatestandards) the sharing and exchange of spatial information amongthe entire user community and alleviate many of the problems of spatialdata integration. In assembling the present report the committee struggled with a varietyof concepts, competing priorities for spatial data production anddata management, accuracies and resolution, and definitions. Thecommittee did not think that it was within the scope of this studyto suggest specific mechanisms for how such a foundation and frameworkdata should be produced; these will reflect a variety of governmentaland private sector priorities and will be market driven. In addition,the committee recognized early in its study that questions of resolutionand accuracy were highly dependent on the specific applications.As such, the purpose of this report is to discuss general principlesand guidelines that would help make the NSDI more robust.

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A DATA FOUNDATION FOR THE NATIONAL SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE Through five committee meetings and several ad hoc meetings of portionsof the committee (meetings of opportunity), the present committeereached agreement on the content of the report. Those members ofthe committee whose terms ended in December 1993 were active participantsand contributors to these meetings but were not present at the June1994 meeting when agreement was finally reached; they did, however,have the opportunity to review and comment on the report. One of the factors that influenced the committee in reaching itsapproach to the report was Executive Order. 12906 (“CoordinatingGeographic Data Acquisition and Access: The National Spatial DataInfrastructure,” signed by President Clinton on April 11, 1994).This order identifies three specific framework data categories thatshould be available by 1998 for support of the decennial census inthe year 2000. These three categories were prominent in the committee’s deliberations from the outset of our study. In late 1993 the FGDCassembled a working group of its own on framework geospatial data,with its report to be ready near the end of 1994. Several membersof the Mapping Science Committee met with this working group in May1994 to discuss various concepts related to the FGDC working group’s task. There was a fairly high degree of coincidence among manyof the concepts in this report and those being developed by the FGDCworking group.