New tool adds geospatial capabilities to federal data website

The White House’s Data.gov  website has added a geospatial interactive mapping tool that enables users to view geographic data and overlay it on other data.

The GeoViewer tool offers a preview of geographic data with limited functionality rather than serving as a full-fledged geospatial information system. It allows users to visualize data on a map and to quickly determine which data within Data.gov contains geographic data.

Now, the GeoViewer is able to preview geographic data for selected datasets only, such as for the Environmental Protection Agency’s data on environmentally sensitive areas.


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The Geo Viewer was developed by ESRI, a geographic information systems company. ESRI officials recently announced the company received a contract to merge geographic data from Data.gov with GeoData.gov. ESRI has been under contract fo GeoData.gov development since 2004.

Jack Dangermond, chief executive of ESRI, spoke about use of geographic information on government data at the Gov 2.0 Summit on Sept. 8.

“The question is, can government geographic information system databases be integrated?” Dangermond asked. The answer is yes, they can, and if that occurs it would provide great benefit to the public, he said.

However, open data policies and data sharing are not enough to integrate geographic databases, he added. Public maps should be made available as shared services along with templates for integrations, free open-source geographic software and tools for developers, Dangermond said at the summit.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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