USGS uses Cooperative Research and Development Act (CRADA) agreements as one means of connecting with external GIScience expertise. An example of such an agreement for geospatial activities is with Microsoft Corporation on the development of Terraserver.6 In addition to CRADAs, USGS has leveraged external GIScience expertise by arranging a series of visiting academic GIScientists who have been based at Reston, Virginia during sabbatical leave; participating with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in the solicitation and review of NGA University Research Initiative proposals; conducting a graduate school training program in which more than a dozen USGS employees pursued GIScience studies at universities including Ohio State University, State University of New York Buffalo, University of California at Santa Barbara, and University of South Carolina; organizing research meetings (e.g., the Public Health Colloquiums) with expert participants invited through UCGIS; funding postdoctoral positions in GIScience at USGS facilities; and sponsoring GIScience professional meetings (Steve Guptill, USGS, personal communication, 2007).
Geography, GIScience, and mapping will be increasingly important to the USGS’s water, geology, and biology disciplines. With the new roles of map and information integration, CEGIS will face increasing demands for solutions to complex geospatial data processing challenges as well as automation of those functions so that USGS researchers can handle large amounts of dissimilar and nonconforming data with frequent updates. In addition, USGS’s major role in analyzing land change over time will require new GIScience-derived methods.
In 2007, the USGS released its report outlining a 10-year science strategy for the agency. Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges: USGS Science in the Coming Decade (USGS, 2007) sets the bar high early in the introduction: “The USGS is the Nation’s and the world’s leading natural science and information agency … [whose efforts] … allow the USGS to map and understand land use/land change trends across the Nation.” The 2007 report highlights the GIScience needs that could be fulfilled by CEGIS. These needs are described in Chapter 2.