Today, on the 125th anniversary of John Wesley Powell’s announcement to begin a nationwide topographic mapping program as the first director of the U.S. Geological Survey, the USGS has unveiled two new online mapping portals. The new electronic digital topographic map named US Topo, which is the next step from the “Digital Map – Beta” which was released in June. The latest iteration beyond the Beta site integrates a hydrologic layer and contour layer with NAIP imagery layers, along with the Census transportation layers and geographic names layers that were there previously. The new National Map viewer (based on the the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Palentara site), also launched today.
Mark DeMulder, Chief of the USGS National Geospatial Program offers these distinctions for how US Topo differs from most other electronic maps:
- Nationally consistent data quality assured to high standards
- Looks and feels like legacy paper USGS topographic maps but has technical advantages
- Can be used on the computer or printed to scale
- Downloadable free from the online USGS Store
- Users can select from various reference systems, e.g lat-long, UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator)
- Direct “mash-up” capabilities with Google Maps
- Continuous evolution and incorporation of additional data layers.