USGS: ‘Digital Map – Beta’

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Say hello to the USGS’s shiny new Digital Map – Beta website. From the website:

About the USGS’s New “Digital Map – Beta”

The USGS’s new “Digital Map – Beta” is an implementation and derivative of The National Map, celebrating 125 years of USGS topographic mapping. The “Digital Map – Beta” is the quadrangle map of the future. Although it is not a Geographic Information System (GIS), it is a new kind of georeferenced map that is a synthesis and evolution of USGS’s legacy digital map data files, the Digital Raster Graphics (DRG). These maps are different from other available imagery or maps. They are a first step toward a comprehensive portrayal of the Nation’s landscape. The initial version of “Digital Maps – Beta” includes orthoimagery plus roads and geographic names in the traditional 7.5 minute quadrangle format. The “Digital Map – Beta” is easily accessible, has reasonable file sizes and a common format with embedded tools, and theme-based layers.

Ultimately, in addition to a scale-corrected image base, the “Digital Map” will include layers for contours; water, transportation, boundaries, and structure features; geographic names; and vegetative surface cover or land cover in USGS’s customary 7.5-minute by 7.5-minute quadrangle format. When contours are added, the “Beta” designation will be dropped. Accompanying each “Digital Map” will be scanned files of previous editions of that topographic map. The quality and accuracy of the map depends on The National Map data that was used to make it. The file format is a georereferenced GeoPDF. The user can interact with the features on the map using free PC-compatible software. The map files will be available, at no cost, for digital download from the USGS Store.

Release Time Line

This new topographic map series will be released formally this fall. The USGS is making these maps from The National Map and plans to make an updated version of each map every 3 years. As other data layers are integrated, they will be added to the maps, so that after 3 or 4 years all of the data within The National Map will be shown. In 2010, the USGS plans to add integrated hydrography (water features) and hypsography (contours) to the maps. The USGS will follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) 3-year cycle to make these maps, thus covering the lower 48-States once every 3 years using the latest NAIP imagery as the base layer. In the near future, high-resolution scanned files of all historical versions of the new topographic maps also will be available for free download.

“Digital Maps – Beta” made in 2009 do not include the 7.5-minute quadrangles containing U. S. Forest Service (USFS) lands. These maps are provided by USFS and can be obtained for free as downloads at the USGS Store, or as paper copies for a fee by using the USGS-Store-Map-Locator and selecting USDA Forest Service Products.

Thanks to beSpacific for the link.

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