asked the National Research Council’s Mapping Science Committee to convene a study panel charged to

  1. Identify current and future USGS needs for GIScience capabilities;

  2. Assess current capabilities in GIScience research at the USGS and recommend strategies for strengthening these capabilities and for collaborating with others to maximize research productivity; and

  3. Using knowledge of the current state of the art in GIScience, make recommendations regarding the most effective research areas for CEGIS to pursue.

Over the course of 11 months, the committee met three times and received input from many sources (Appendix B). Given the short time frame, USGS urged the committee to focus on “what should we do and how should we do it”—primarily the second and third tasks—and to rely on published material to address the first task and the first part of the second task.


With a focused agenda as the key goal, initial attention is needed to research that will improve the capabilities of The National Map, which includes map layer databases, web map servers, and The National Map viewers. This USGS product, which was first envisioned and implemented in 2001, is “a database of continuously maintained base geographic information for the United States and its territories that will serve as the Nation’s topographic map for the 21st century” (USGS, 2001). The National Map is the USGS vehicle for providing authoritative data content that has broad application within and beyond USGS. Success with The National Map is the prerequisite for any additional GIScience research at CEGIS. This success will then return fundamental, visible benefits to CEGIS, to NGPO in which CEGIS is located, and to the USGS disciplines of biology, geography, geology, and water, while tackling some of the most significant GIScience topics confronting the geospatial community.

RECOMMENDATION 1. CEGIS should initially focus on research that will improve the capabilities of The National Map.

Even with a focus on The National Map, the list of potential CEGIS research topics is large. Consequently, the committee drew on expert testimony and its own experience to develop eight prioritization criteria: CEGIS research should (1) be important to The National Map; (2) be important to USGS disciplines; (3) be relevant to society; (4) solve a problem and target a customer; (5) be foundational, understandable, and generalizable; (6) enable multidisciplinary

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