USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Multimedia Gallery

Maps, Imagery, and Publications Hazards Newsroom Education Jobs Partnerships Library About USGS Social Media

Multimedia Gallery Home | Videos

Announcement of New Products and Services
This text will be replaced

Information presented is factual at the time of creation.
If no transcript and/or closed-caption is available, please notify us.
MS: Well, thank you and good afternoon, everyone. This is really an honor and a privilege to speak to all of you. I feel like Iím speaking to a lot of my good friends and talking about the work that weíre doing. So what Iím going to do here today is introduce you to new products. Iím going to start with a little bit of legacy information about the topographic maps. We are, after all, here talking about the 125 years. But first I want to say that Iím dedicating, really, this talk to the employees that have made this work possible. We have staff in both Denver and Rolla who are watching this live, so I want to acknowledge their presence and just thank all of you who have contributed to this.

Because really itís your work thatís made this possible, and I mean this from the heart. So as I said, the purpose of this is to introduce you to new products. Iím going to talk about two products. Theyíre very different. One is really designed for the traditional topographic map user, the US topo. One is designed for the more sophisticated user, used to using information on the internet, used to interacting with that information on the internet, perhaps more of a GIS-capable user. So, two different products, the US topo and the national map viewer.

As I said, though, first I want to talk a little bit about the map. Anybody recognize this map? Probably a lot of you spent a lot of hours looking at maps just like this. In order to design a successful new product, I think itís incumbent on us to really think about the characteristics that have made this map last for 125 years. The design of the map. My opinion is that whatís made this product successful is that I can look at this product and I can get an immediate visualization of whatís on the earth at this particular location.

So itís that cartographic design that allows me to automatically translate the symbols on this map to something thatís on the ground. And I really think that that is the key to the success of this product. So letís think a little bit about what that means. What are the characteristics of this product? And this is in my opinion, from my perspective. First of all, that consistency. So I can pick up a USGS topographic map for the state of Maine, or I can pick up a USGS topographic map for the state of Florida, and theyíre going to look largely similar.

Right? The symbology on those maps is very similar across the country. Yes, weíve had some standards changes. We donít take those lightly, as all of you know. But itís that consistency in symbology that allows that automatic translation. Iím in the field. I donít have to think about what that symbol means because Iíve seen it in other parts of the country. Thatís extremely important. So you have that consistency in the map extent, 7 Ĺ minute quadrangle maps, symbology, projection coordinate system, color, the look and feel of this map has been copied many, many times.

Private sector, other public sector, so this is a very, very successful product design. Itís a complete set of map information. So John Wesley Powell didnít say map the country in places where there are people, right? He said, Map the country. Complete coverage. So itís important that I know, when I go to the middle of Kansas, or I go to the middle of Utah, or I go to the middle of Arizona, that there is a USGS topographic map for that area. Completeness. Very, very important. Accessibility. What good is this product if I canít get one? Right?

Iím going out to the field tomorrow. I need to get a copy of the topographic map for that area. So accessibility is extremely important. Weíve worked with a number of public and private sector partners out there to make sure that these maps are available where people need them. Field ready. So I need to pick this up. I need to walk out the door. I need to go into the field and do my work, right? So itís got to be field ready, ready to go. No copyright. This is something that we have gotten used to, right? Weíve had 125 years of information that I can make copies of, I can value add, I can resell.

So I think as we start seeing this change a little bit in the mapping community today, weíre starting to see a little bit more license data, a few more copyright data sets out there, we need to think about and remember the fact that this legacy that weíve had is based on information that is public domain, no copyright, freely available. These are the characteristics that I think have really made this product successful in the past, and Mark showed this slide. We completed the once over coverage at the primary scale in the early 1990s. Parallel with the completion of those final quadrangle maps, we were busy thinking about looking at how to create digital information.

So weíre into the age of computers. Weíre beginning to think about and look at using map information over the internet. And USGS was really at the forefront here of designing a lot of these digital products. I showed this slide, yes, I showed this slide to my daughter, whoís 12, and she said, Wow, those are a lot of letters and, you know, acronyms on there. I said, yes, I realize that. But those of us whoíve worked with these products know them, right? And we know that there was a lot of trial and error here. So we designed these products. We tried to capture that topographic map information that was on those maps.

Lots of information contained in small pieces of those maps. And capturing that efficiently and effectively was not easy. We had some trial and error. Some of these things did not survive the test of time like that topographic map, but it was that trial and error process that got us to some very successful national coverages of data that weíre really relying on today to feed these products for the future. This is one of the success stories. National Elevation Data set. This is our national coverage of elevation data for the nation. Itís a seamless coverage. You probably canít see the legend here, but the gold area, which is most of the lower 48 here, represents ten meter horizontal resolution digital elevation data.

So that is the best available data in the US today. That information is largely derived from scanning the contours for those topographic maps. So even today weíre using that legacy topographic information in a nationally consistent digital elevation data set. Part of the national map. So weíre using that legacy information to build on. Thatís what the national map is all about. So weíve built this map from lots of different sources. Lots of you are partners out there that have worked with us to contribute data to these national databases. Thatís what this is all about. Pulling that information all together. Building on our legacy.

And what weíre going to talk about today is deriving some new products, going forward with new products built on the legacy of this data. Iím going to focus here on USGS topographic maps at the one to 24,000 scale. This is our US Topo product, and Iím going to introduce you to that, today. So, new products. Letís look at them. A new generation of topographic maps. The national map, US Topo. Iím going to show this URL a number of times here. I think itís pretty easy to remember: Thatís really all you need to know.

If you go to this website, youíre going to have links to both the US Topo and the national map viewer. This is a public rollout today, so youíre among the first to see this information. And what a, hopefully a privilege that is for you. And hopefully Iíll be getting through this. Very exciting. And I do, really, Iím not going to have time here to get into a lot of detail. I encourage you, really, to go and find these products and experiment with them yourself. As all of you know, the topographic map changed, improved over time. We fully expect these products to do the same.

So we need your feedback to make these better. So whatís the strategy? Topographic maps. Create the next generation of USGS topographic maps, using data from the national map. Three-year revision cycle. Okay? Mark talked about the fact that we did a little more than 16 years on the initial once-over coverage, right? It took quite a while. Well, so this is a challenge for us. A three-year revision cycle, following the national agricultural imagery program, the NAIP program. This is an orthoimagery program to attain cyclical coverage, so predictable cyclical coverage of the nation in ortho rectified imagery.

Itís really the availability of that imagery on that three-year cycle thatís pushing us to that three-year cycle. The first year of the first three-year cycle was fiscal year í09. We produced 13,200 products. So quite a phenomenal effort. How did we do that? Well, clearly weíre using different technology than weíve used in the past. Weíre deriving these maps from data in the national map. So this is a largely automated process to create these maps. We do go through a quality assurance process, so keeping that quality is very important to us.

But ramping up Pap production, getting started with this in FYí09 with 13,200 products. The content of those products in fiscal year í09 was limited, right? So this is our first year. We called these digital map beta products, because they had that limited content. Very important it has that orthoimage background. So thatís something youíre going to notice immediately when I show you one of these. Thereís also roads information on here. Public domain roads informations taken largely from the Census Bureauís effort, with some improvements. Geographic names, extremely important on a map. This is one of my personal pet peeves, is when I see a map without names on it. It really is not the same.

And it has the one to 24,000 scale layout, so it looks very much, has that similar look and feel to the legacy USGS topographic map. In fiscal year í10, which weíre now beginning fiscal year í10, weíre adding significant content and weíre launching this product, rolling out this product, and calling it a US Topo. So weíre going to add contours to the map, produced from that national elevation data set that I talked about previously, as well as hydrography information. Streams, surface water information from the national hydrography data set.

So all coming from the national map. Contours generated automatically from the national elevation data set. Hydrography, again, from the NHD. A little bit about the product characteristics before I show it to you. It is a geo pdf format. If youíre familiar with this, this is becoming a much more common digital format in the mapping community. You can bring these files into the free Adobe Reader that you download. Probably all of you use this very regularly to look at pdf documents. This is the same software that you use to look at those pdf documents.

Thatís what you will use to use this geo pdf product. Geo referenced. This is after all a map product, so thereís coordinate information embedded. Itís a layered product, so you have the ability here to turn on and off content. If you want to customize this product to a certain extent, you can turn on and off that content to allow you to be able to customize for your needs. Itís plot and print ready. We recognize itís important to many of our users still to have a hard copy product. So this allows you to create a product to scale and print that product.

Limited interactive capabilities. Iíll talk about some of the free tools that you can download to enable you to use this product in an interactive way. File sizes are about 15 to 20 megabytes. We know this is an issue. Weíre working on making this better. Right now it is at that 15 to 20 megabyte level. Free downloads, so these are freely downloadable. You can get them from the USGS map store, which is again a link at that website. So here it is, the US Topo product. Iíll just give you a little bit of orientation on what you will see.

When you download this file, and this is a file. So you go to the map store, you find the map that you want, you download it to your local computer. You bring it up in the Adobe Reader software. This is what youíre going to see. This is the way the map has been designed. So that this is what you see initially when you open that file. So just a little bit of orientation about what you see here. Along the top, you see those free Adobe Reader tools. So you have all of the capability there in the Adobe Reader. You have the pan function. You have those zoom functions. You have the print function.

One of the cool things I think about this product is you also have the find function. So if you know that within this map area there should be, for example, a town, and you know the name of that town, you can type this in to the search function in Adobe Reader and it will find every instance of that name within the file, within the map display area as well. So I think thatís very useful. You also have these red buttons up on the upper left part of the display. These are terrago technology geo pdf tools. This is the geo pdf toolbar.

So when you open this map in Adobe Reader, youíre going to automatically get a message that says you can go and download this free geo pdf toolbar. And, you know, you can do that. Itís an optional thing. You can view these files without doing that, but this gives you some additional capability. So letís look at the map. You see here the US Topo symbol. You also hopefully notice that this has very similar look and feel to the traditional USGS topographic map. You also notice some of the features. Hopefully you can see that from where youíre sitting. There are contours on this map. And Iíll show you the version here.

There is an image on this map. So the orthoimage that youíre seeing here is from the NAIP program. So thatís obviously adding a lot of content here to this product. Down in the lower right corner, you probably canít see this from where youíre sitting, but this is a continuous coordinate readout. So as Iím moving my cursor around in the map display, that changes continuously and keeps track of the position of the location on the ground where your cursor is located. Along the left side of the display over here is the layer information, so youíre getting a little bit of a GIS, Geographic Information System look to this product.

We can actually turn on and off content, based on those layers. If I expand that layer information, you can see thatóhere Iíve expanded the map frame content piece here and the layer information, so you can see a lot of the different types of features that are included on the map. And I further expanded the transportation layer to show you that there are some specific types of features within that transportation layer. You can expand all of the layers and see what specific features are included there. Thereís a little I symbol off at the very left of the layer list, here. If you click on that I symbol, it allows you to turn on and off the content in that particular layer.

So here Iíve turned off the orthoimage. You may want to print a map that doesnít have that image on it for whatever reason. You may want to zoom in to a particular area and print that map without the image. And itís possible to customize and then print that product. So I think thatís very useful. I also want to point out the paperclip symbol, down here in the lower left part of the product. This is, indicates that there is an attachment here, and in this case this is metadata. Iíll talk a little bit more about that in a few minutes.

So let me go back and say something about the toolbar. Up in the upper left corner you see these tools. Theyíre the red symbols in the upper left part of your display. This first one is the geo tool. This is a master tool. It allows you to access the other tools. Iím showing you here the second tool here, which is the map locator. This allows you to customize your coordinate readout. So say Iím interested in looking at state plain coordinates. As I pan around in the file, I want to look at my location and state plain coordinate system. You can specify that here. You can specify projection parameters.

You can specify the coordinate system. So again, I think this is a very useful, very simple tool. Another simple tool thatís included here is the ability to measure features. So I can measure links, I can measure areas. Hereís what Iíve shown you. Iíve measured the area of a small pond in this quadrangle. This is, by the way, Coffeeville, East Kansas. This is the poster child. As we roll out this US Topo product, weíve joked a little bit about going on a field trip to Coffeeville, Kansas. I donít think they quite understand whatís going on here.

But, thatís the quadrangle that weíre looking at here. You can customize how you look at these measurements. So if youíre interested in looking at feet or meters, you can customize that also. Letís look a little bit at the caller. Traditional look and feel of the caller, right? It looks a lot like the USGS topographic map. I do want to note here that in the data source information, weíre noting all of the national map data sets that are contributing to the information in this map. We also have all the traditional coordinate system information here, as well as datum information. Magnetic declination. We have the US national grid zone information here. Very important standard coordinate system that is included as part of this product.

Talked a little bit about metadata. So, traditional cartography, weíre limited in the amount of information we can include in that caller. You can only squeeze so much information into that space. Well, with a digital file we have the advantage of being able to include a meta data file. So, I talked about that paper clip earlier. This is showing, when I click on that, I get a pop up that shows me that there is a meta data. Thereís an Ximum [ph] data file attached here. I can click, double click on that file, and it allows me to look at the federal geographic data committee compliant meta data for this particular product.

Thereís a lot of information here. I can look at horizontal coordinate information. This is what Iíve expanded here in the lower left corner of this display. Thereís other feature information included here. So you can include a lot of information in this file that goes beyond that information in the caller. So this is the US Topo product. This is the web site, again, you can get there from Thereís a lot of really good information to get you started using this product at this website. I encourage you to go there. Itíll walk you through the process of downloading these files.

Thereís a quick start guide there to get you started with this. I think this is a very intuitive product. Get in there. Play with it. We really want you to use these products and give us some feedback. Let me move on and talk about the national map viewer. Again, US Topo product really designed for those traditional USGS topographic map users. This is an online, interactive viewer capability. Some of the features of the viewer. First of all, national map content. Okay? So this is going to be, this is an ongoing common theme among both of these products.

The content that you see are in the national map. Maintained by the USGS and also by a wide array of partners. We are improving the performance vastly over the existing national map viewing capabilities. And one way that weíre doing that is by having a precomputed cached base map service. That may not mean anything to you. What it really will mean to you as you sit in front and use this viewer is that itís going to go very quickly. Youíre going to see extremely good performance in terms of speed of refresh of the information on your screen. The content in the product is going to improve at the content in the national map improves.

So weíre going to focus on working with our partners to improve, update, higher, improve the resolution, improve the content of the data in the national map databases. And thatís whatís going to be available through both the viewer as well as the US Topo products. Direct access to US Topo maps as well as other products from the national map. So currently we have multiple ways that you can come in and get to national map products. And youíll still have those multiple ways to get, for example, national elevation data, set data, national hydrography data set data. However, you will also be able to come here and find all of that in one place.

We think thatís important to people, to be able to find the information so that they can make use of it. There are some advanced features in this viewer. Again, Iím only going to touch on a few of them today. Thereís a GIS toolbox. Very robust tools. The ability to add user content. So your content, if youíre a scientist, you can, you have the ability to add that information in a live interaction session. Transparency settings. So if Iím looking at, for example, land cover and Iím looking at an image, I can set the transparency of the layer on top so that I can see the layer beneath that.

Ability to email link and bookmark views. So if I have worked hard to get to a particular place in this viewer, a particular view, I can let someone else know about that, and a link will go to them, either email or in some other form, so that they can click on that and immediately be in that same view. So hereís the opening display. When you go the viewer, to the URL for the viewer, this is what youíre going to see. Think about the content here, national map content displayed here. The shaded relief here, which I think is fantastic, is from the national elevation data set, derived from that gridded data.

Remember, I talked about legacy USGS topographic map contour information. Couple of things to note on the opening screen. This Find a Place function right here in the middle on the top. Prominent. Why? Because when I come into an application like this, usually I have some place in mind where I want to go. Okay? I want to go look at my house. Or I want to go look at some particular location. You can type in the name of that location here, and immediately youíll go to that location within the viewer. So you donít have to spend a lot of time searching for it, zooming in and out.

I think thatís very useful, that Find a Place function. In the upper right corner of the viewer display, thereís some buttons. One says Options, one says Help, and one says Link. The Options button allows you to customize your coordinate display, Similar to what we saw in the US Topo product, you can specify what coordinate system you want to see your coordinates displayed in here. The Link button there tells me that I can save my URL. So when I develop a view in this viewer, I can put that in an email and send it to somebody. They click on that link and theyíre already at the same view that I left.

So very useful so that you donít have to struggle and try to find that same location, customize your view again. Couple other things to note here on the opening screen. In the lower left part of the screen here is that same continuous coordinate readout. So Iím traveling around the view here with my mouse. I want to know where I am in terms of geographic coordinates. Thatís immediately available here in the continuous coordinate display. Thereís also scale information here. So as I zoom in and out, I want to know what scale Iím looking at at the present. That scale information is always there.

Hereís the GIS toolbox. You click on this triangle and it opens up a GIS toolbox. Iíll show you that a little bit later and some of the tools we have available. And this is the zoom bar, so you can zoom in and out here, continuously. Okay. So, Anybody recognize this place? Okay. What I did to get to this place was I typed in Reston, Virginia. And the viewer took me to this particular view. Note up here the four buttons. One of them is base map. Thatís turned orange right now. So what Iím looking at right here is just the base map information and I am looking at Reston, Virginia.

If I click the button to the right of that, the topo shaded button, I get the shaded relief. Again, from the national elevation data set. Go one more and I get imagery. Now you can really see where we are, which is right here. One more and I have the advantage of both the image as well as that base map information. So, very powerful, very easy. The click of one button, you can get several different views of the same area. These are the tools. So in the upper left corner I just highlighted some of the GIS toolbox tools. These are very simple ones that Iím showing here. The pan function, the familiar hand function, is that pan capability.

Identify. If I click on that I button and then click on a feature, I get a window that pops up telling me more information about that feature. The little XY here is one of my favorites. This is Find Coordinates. So if I want to know the geographic coordinates of a particular location, say Iím looking for Rolla, Missouri. I know where that is on the map. I click on Rolla, Missouri and I get the geographic coordinates. I get the latitude and longitude. I get the US national grid coordinates. So I think thatís, personally I think thatís very useful.

Here are some of the advanced tools. Again, Iím not going to show you all of these. But this one has a little plus sign, the one that Iím going to talk a little bit about. This allows the user to add their own content in an interactive way. So if I am a scientist, for example, or Iím working on geologic mapping and I want to add that information and look at that in the context with a base map, I can do that by using this add data tool. This is what it looks like when I click on that add data tool. So if I have a web map service, if I have an RGIS service, if I have a KML or GORSS feed, or an ARCIMS service, I can put that here.

I can browse for that and I can specify that here, and immediately that information will come in and be displayed with the base map information. Very powerful. This shows you the layer list. This is like the US Topo product. Again, similar look and feel to a geographic information system. Iíve expanded the transportation list layer here and shown you all of the different types of features that you can see within the transportation layer. Okay. Iím changing locations on us now. Iím going back to Coffeeville, Kansas. Remember that one. Talking now about download of information.

I said at the beginning here that we want to provide you with the capability to download this national map product all from one location. So first I need to find out what US Topo products, for example, are available over Coffeeville, Kansas. This is an inventory service function that allows you to query USGS databases and find out what products are available over a particular geographic area. So in this case Iím interested in the US Topo product. And if I check that US Topo box and Iím in East, or Iím in Coffeeville, Kansas, I find out that yes indeed, I have a US Topo product, the Coffeeville east quadrangle.

It tells me a little bit about that here. It also gives me a little thumbnail so I can see what that product looks like. It also gives me the option here to click and download that geo pdf directly from this application. So I donít have to go searching around in different applications to figure out how to download that product. So, a brief introduction to the viewer. Again, I am really encouraging you all to go take a look at this. Play with this. Have fun. Give us some feedback. Building on the success of 125 years that all of you have contributed to, of the legacy topographic map information and creating useful new products for the future. Thank you all very much. [applause]


Title: Announcement of New Products and Services


On December 3, 2009, more than 300 people gathered at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) headquarters in Reston, Virginia, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of USGS topographic mapping. The ceremony opened with a special production by Duke Ellington School of the Arts Concert Chorale, and continued with presentations featuring discussions:

  • on the benefits of topographic maps,
  • the history of USGS topographic mapping,
  • the announcement of the new USGS digital topographic map product (US Topo)
  • the introduction of the new National Map Viewer  
  • advise on future directions from Dr. David Cowan
  • and concluded with some special award presentations and a display of historic pictures and artifacts

Location: Reston, VA, USA

Date Taken: 12/3/2009

Length: 28:46

Video Producer: U.S. Geological Survey

Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this video.


Program summary

File Details:

Suggest an update to the information/tags?

Tags: NationalGeospatialProgram NationalMap ceremony topographic


Browse More: Video Collections | Video Sets

* DOI and USGS link and privacy policies apply.


Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Image Gallery Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, March 20, 2015