Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary

CONTACT: Joan Moody
August 10, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Geographic Society and ESRI (a geospatial information technology company) have announced a collaboration that will make sophisticated geospatial resources accessible to laypersons interested in maps and geography, as well as to professionals.

According to representatives of Interior, ESRI and the National Geographic Society, the agreement will bring the substantial benefits of Geographic Information Systems and 3-D interactive technology to a global audience, enabling the public to use their computers to 'fly around the world' and better understand and protect the planet.

"This exciting partnership presents a tremendous opportunity to expand the data and resources available through the Geospatial One-Stop, the new portal of the E-Government initiative," said Scott Cameron, deputy assistant secretary of the Interior for Policy, Management and Budget. "Private citizens may virtually explore the geography of their neighborhoods and planet through the portal, while having the benefit of information from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and World Wildlife Fund."

The officials described plans to integrate the Geospatial One-Stop Portal,, with National Geographic's popular MapMachine,, powered by ESRI's ArcWeb Services. The Geospatial One-Stop Portal, managed by Interior and its U.S. Geological Survey, receives more than 15 million hits per month.

"ESRI is proud to be a part of this collaborative effort that allows people who have had little exposure to maps to use simple tools to see their world and explore the rich content that the GIS community maintains," said Jack Dangermond, ESRI president. "By combining National Geographic's MapMachine and the Geospatial One-Stop Project,, we will increase the capability of the technology and provide users with free access to more maps and tools."

The provides access to more than 72,000 federal, state, tribal, local and private sources of geospatial resources. Users will be able to search this site, select appropriate GIS services and directly integrate them with the MapMachine's content. The portal enables real-time decision-making by providing government leaders, first responders and the general public access to geospatial resources. It has served as a critical information resource during emergencies such as the multiple hurricanes that pummeled the Southeast last year.

Linking the Geospatial One-Stop portal's vast array of metadata, GIS data sets and Web map services with the resources of National Geographic and ESRI fills a gap, according to officials at the conference. The collaboration provides a connection between the GIS world and the traditional community of people interested in maps and geography.

In early July, Deputy Assistant Secretary Cameron announced a newer, faster, more efficient portal at the 2005 Annual Conference of the National Association of Counties meeting in Hawaii. One of the newest features included the "marketplace map," which allows users to find data-sharing partners in a specific geographic area and to identify planned data acquisitions.

ESRI and National Geographic will soon launch a new capability within MapMachine based on ESRI's ArcGlobe technology to help people visualize and integrate geographic knowledge from many sources in 3-D. This new MapMachine capability will be useful to anyone who wishes to view high-quality data from a global, 3-D perspective. Internet access is all that will be needed to select an area of interest and to use MapMachine's 3-D viewing tools to pan, zoom, rotate, tilt and fly over the region. The free access and high-quality data make MapMachine with 3-D capability valuable for educators, GIS users and others interested in geography and maps.

MapMachine's 3-D content will include National Geographic maps, imagery and aerial photographs from GlobeXplorer and MDA Geospatial Services and street data from Tele Atlas.

"For more than a century, National Geographic has sought to bring the world to people's doorsteps," said Allen Carroll, chief cartographer at the National Geographic Society. "GIS is rapidly expanding our knowledge of the earth and our ability to make informed decisions about how to protect it. This 3-D technology will bring the benefits of GIS to a global audience in an exciting, interactive environment."