USGS center moves to DVDs

Anticipating an increased demand for user-friendly storage of satellite and aerial imagery, a major U.S. Geological Survey data center has found a solution in recordable DVD publishing technology.

USGS' Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center, located near Sioux Falls, S.D., operates the National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive, a vast collection of land surface images taken from space. Scientists and others use the images to study environmental changes and land use.

The EROS Data Center is looking to buy additional DVD-R and CD-R systems to distribute customer-requested images, said Kevin Lowell, principal systems engineer in the data center's Department of Systems Development and Integration.

Over the next few months, he anticipates an increase in the number of DVDs requested. That's because DVDs can hold much more data — 4.7G compared with a CD's capacity of 650M.

"[With DVDs], you can have a larger amount of data on a single piece of media, and that's always favorable to the customers," Lowell said.

The data center, part of USGS' National Mapping Division, currently uses several Rimage Corp. CD-R and DVD-R publishing systems purchased through Arlington, Va.-based Global Technologies Group Inc. It specifically is looking to buy combination CD-R and DVD-R products under Rimage's Autostar brand.

"If your target market is equipped with DVD, it's a great solution," said George Allen, president of Global Technologies. "The ability to put more data into the same physical space is a very attractive feature."

However, Allen estimated that only about 5 percent to 10 percent of all PCs are equipped with DVD drives, while CD drives are nearly universal. That's the only major drawback to using DVD, he said.

About 93 percent of people requesting the satellite data now want it in optical media — either on CD or DVD, Lowell said. The rest choose to download it from an online site or order magnetic tapes. Lowell expects a 10 percent to 14 percent increase in volume of data requested this year.

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