Geospatial One-Stop opens

Geospatial One-Stop portal

The Office of Management and Budget and the Interior Department on June 30 launched the Geospatial One-Stop portal, the long-awaited first step toward consolidating vital geospatial data across federal, state and local agencies.

The portal (www.geodata.gov) is one of the 24 cross-agency e-government initiatives, and it is truly cross-governmental. Much of the detailed data — such as the location of sewer lines, hospitals and community centers — is collected and held by state and local governments.

Making all of that information easily available in one place where it can be combined, enhanced and separated is vital to government operations, officials said.

"Geospatial data is incredibly important to the business of government, especially state and local governments," said Mark Forman, administrator of OMB's Office of E-Government and Information Technology. "The information is used in so many ways, for so many purposes."

As governments face increasing fiscal pressures, the ability to rely on multiple sources for detailed information becomes both a service and cost advantage. For example, the data would help officials know exactly where and when to spray pesticides that prevent outbreaks of the West Nile virus, said Eric Conrad, deputy secretary of field operations for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. "In times of tight budgets, this kind of information is essential," he said.

At the federal level, the portal is also vital for other e-government initiatives, including the Disaster Management initiative and the Recreation.gov portal, Forman said.

The portal's aim is to "make finding geospatial data easy and intuitive," said Hank Garie, executive director of the project at Interior. As part of this, it moves one step beyond the "three clicks to service" goal for other initiatives, such as FirstGov, by trying to get to "two clicks to content."

"With one click of a mouse, it helps you put things into community context," Garie said.

The federal partners on the portal include NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Commerce and Defense. However, the state and local partners that make up the majority of the initiative's Intergovernmental Board of Directors, and the eight states that have already contributed their data to the portal are even more important.

"A lot of the real work on the Geospatial One-Stop is the result of the work of our nonfederal partners," said Scott Cameron, deputy assistant secretary for performance and management at Interior.

The portal is Phase One of the e-government initiative, Forman said. The next phase is to bring in more partners from the state and local levels to integrate their data and increase interoperability, Garie said. His goal is to have 25 more states involved by the end of the year. The portal was developed by ESRI, but complies with the interoperability and metadata standards developed by Open GIS Consortium Inc., of which ESRI is a member.

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