Geo data on common ground

State and local governments looking for ways to locate geographic data or communicate with potential project partners now have their very own Web portal.

Part of the National Integrated Land System (NILS), the GeoCommunicator Web site provides a "virtual land community" where users can deal with most geographic issues.

GeoCommunicator (www.geocommunicator.gov) is a joint project of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service. It provides a space in which users can download geographic data and subscribe to "areas of interest" to receive notification of activities, events and updated maps.

Counties, for example, could use the portal to look for potential cost-sharing partners and keep abreast of opportunities by sharing project information and other items of geographic interest. The portal also can be used to set up forums, discussion groups and other networking activities.

"We look to three kinds of people to use the portal: those who are just browsing, those who want to subscribe to areas of interest and those who want to be providers of data," said Leslie Cone, a project manager in BLM's Denver office.

The success of the portal will hinge on recruiting data providers to ensure the data will be as current as possible.

The NILS project (www.blm.gov/nils) was launched to meet the demand for data from land resource managers. It integrates survey data with parcel-based land models in a geographic information systems environment.

GeoCommunicator was developed with extensive input from state and local governments, according to Cone, as well as from businesses and academic sources. It's the first of a number of program modules that will come out of NILS, with others expected in fiscal years 2002 and 2003.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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