The U.S. Geological Survey has been moving their The National Map (TNM) online viewing and download platform to the same foundation of technology that the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) uses for Palanterra. The richer viewer application updates the delivery methods for base maps and topos with integrated download services. The new site is now publicly available as a Beta release, with promises for polishing by year’s end.
Of note are the wealth of tools here for rich map interaction. The Navigation menu includes the ability to find places based on coordinates or reverse geocode. The Advanced menu adds the ability to measure distance or area, add data, build queries or filters, buffer on points or selections, and add range rings. The Annotation menu allows users to add points, draw points, lines, polygons, squares and ellipses, and add text. There’s also the ability export annotations or upload shapefiles.
The advanced geospatial capabilities of this publicly-available viewer will provide a great introduction to more advanced mapping capabilities that go well beyond the standard commercial search-oriented viewers. It’s great to see that the technology has caught up with the vision, and that the government is leveraging previous investments in platform technology to spread capabilities across agencies!