Chapter 2 looks to the past and reviews the character, programs, and products of NMD as they developed over the past century. In particular, the focus of this chapter is on the geographic or spatial information users whose requirements NMD met with topographic maps.

Chapter 3 describes the dramatic transformation that cartography, geographical analysis, and the more general process of spatial representation have undergone in recent decades. An attempt is made in Chapter 3 to specify the changes in user requirements that are a result of this technological transformation and to characterize possible NMD program and research responses to the challenge this user shift presents.

In Chapter 4 the committee looks to a somewhat more uncertain future, not only for NMD but for the nation’s spatial information requirements as a whole. Finally, recommendations are presented, taking into account the major forces at work on the economy as a whole and on NMD’s operations in particular.

A transformation is occurring in the cartographic enterprise in the United States. A strong National Mapping Division with a clear vision of the future can provide essential leadership and coordination as we approach the twenty-first century. Cooperation among federal agencies, state and local governments, private industry, and the university community will be essential. It is the committee’s belief that geographic/spatial data at scales from local to global form an essential part of the nation’s spatial data infrastructure. By responding to the recommendations contained herein, the committee believes that the USGS/NMD will continue a transformation already under way.

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