Monday, March 24, 2014
Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Mark DeMulder, Director of the National Geospatial Program at the U.S. Geological Survey. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.
Maps were made for public consumption, not for safekeeping under lock and key. From the dawn of society, people have used maps to learn what’s around us, where we are and where we can go.
Since 1879, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been dedicated to providing reliable scientific information to better understand the Earth and its ecosystems. Mapping is an integral part of what we do. From the early days of mapping on foot in the field to more modern methods of satellite photography and GPS receivers, our scientists have created over 193,000 maps to understand and document changes to our environment.
Government agencies and NGOs have long used our maps everything from community planning to finding hiking trails. Farmers depend on our digital elevation data to help them produce our food. Historians look to our maps from years past to see how the terrain and built environment have changed over time.
While specific groups use USGS as a resource, we want the public at-large to find and use our maps, as well. The content of our maps—the information they convey about our land and its heritage—belongs to all Americans. Our maps are intended to serve as a public good. The more taxpayers use our maps and the more use they can find in the maps, the better.
We recognize that our expertise lies in mapping, so partnering with Google, which has expertise in Web design and delivery, is a natural fit. Google Maps Gallery helps us organize and showcase our maps in an efficient, mobile-friendly interface that’s easy for anyone to find what they’re looking for. Maps Gallery not only publishes USGS maps in high-quality detail, but makes it easy for anyone to search for and discover new maps.
Maps have always played a fundamental role in the development of society. Our understanding of the world through written history was built with the help of maps. Now, thanks to advances in mapping technologies and Maps Gallery, USGS maps can play an even broader role in more peoples’ day-to-day lives.