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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Mapping Science Committee believes that the National Mapping Division (NMD) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) should expand its research activities. We also believe that NMD research should span the spec- trum from applied to fundamental; from improved methods for determining user data product requirements to advanced visu~li~tion and modeling of spatial and temporal land-cover changes; from advanced hardware and software for acquir- ing, extracting, storing, managing, processing, analyzing, and outputting spatially referenced digital data to standards for the electronic transfer of spatial data. Within NMD, the key should be balance maintaining the production and pro- cessing of spatially referenced digital data in the face of ever changing user needs and changing technology. The majority of NMD's current research and development (R&D) program is focused on the immediate (1 to 4 years) needs associated with the specification and implementation of an advanced cartographic system (Mark-II). Although we understand and appreciate the need for such a focus on operational system development activities, we also believe that increasing emphasis should be given to the fundamental and long-term applied aspects of spatial data handling in support of national needs. 1
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c The committee was frustrated in its attempts to recommend a balance between fundamental research and system development efforts because the overwhelming focus of NMD's current activities is the Mark-II development effort. In fact, little fundamental research is being done at this time. Only when all the R&D plans prepared by NMD and discussed in this report become ongoing activities would an appropriate balance be achieved. However, NMD does not have the resources (either scientific and budgetary) to carry out the ambitious program presented in its plans. There is much to be done, both within NMD and throughout the broader mapping community. NMD should craftits research agenda to satisfyits mission needs in both the short- and long-term while still addressing the larger needs of the mapping infrastructure. Accurate and up-to-date spatially referenced infor- mation will form the basis upon which resource management and other impor- tant decisions will be made. NMD should provide leadership in the research required to support these national spatial data needs. RECOMMENDATIONS 1. The committee recommends that the National Mapping Division develop a multlyear research agenda and commit the necessary resources to undertake the priority research. 2. The committee recommends that the National Mapping Division estab- lish an external grants program to use the expertise of the academic and indus- trial sectors in addressing portions of its research agenda. 3. The committee recommends that the National Mapping Division maintain technological and institutional flexibility in meeting its operational needs to ensure that current development efforts berg., Mark-II) can accommo- date changing user needs and technological capabilities. 4. The committee recommends that the USGS, and the National Mapping Division in particular, continue to pursue and expand the development of standards, procedures, and specifications for spatially referenced digital data. 5. The committee recommends that the National Mapping Division develop programs to produce and facilitate a wider variety of ~non-standard" !
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3 spatial data products in support of diverse user requirements for data and information within and beyond federal agencies. To achieve sustained development on both national and global scales, accurate and timely information on the characteristics of the environment is crucial. A robust national mapping infrastructure is vital to achieving this goal. Establishing and sustaining this infrastructure, however, requires an expanded NMD research commitment—to both fundamental and applied research. This commitment must be well coordinated with other federal and state agencies and with academia and industry as well.
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