Wednesday, September 29, 2010

USGS map service gets rid of aerial image "mess"

As the WMS Song says (to the tune of the Beatles "Let it Be") -

"When I need aerial images, I've got to download some files
Oh, what a mess, WMS.
And that weird image format, doesn't load in my GIS
Oh, what a mess, WMS.
...Get rid of this mess, WMS"

USGS has taken this advice to heart and deployed a great web mapping service (WMS) that makes it easier for citizens to access the geographic data it produces and manages - especially aerial images. The map service is called the National Map Seamless Server and it's taking aerial image access to a new level.

The Seamless WMS provides orthoimagery (images processed to overlay on maps) of major U.S. urban areas, streets, bridges, buildings, sidewalks, streams and more at 3-inch, 6-inch, 1-foot, and 2.5-foot spatial resolutions. This means objects roughly these sizes are identifiable on the ground. Because of its detail - better than Bing or Yahoo! in the "Georgetown" area of DC above - the imagery can provide a critical tool for resource managers, city planners, emergency responders, open data digitizers and others. And it's served in an open standard interface (WMS) that's not controlled by any one organization or group like Google - so the official data can be shared all over the Net.

Overlayed on top of the High Resolution Orthoimagery WMS above are Roads from the USGS Framework Web Map and Feature Services - styled to provide an easy reference for Georgetown streets. The free spatial data infrastructure (SDI) platform Gaia is used for access and map display.

Yep, the USGS Seamless WMS helps "get rid of the mess"...

- Jeff


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