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June 1, 1999


Baltimore, MD -- The University of Maryland, Baltimore County has taken a major role in the digital dissemination of geographic data in being named the Clearinghouse Node for Maryland in the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) framework. Joining with more than 100 other nodes nationwide, UMBC now stands at the forefront of the distribution of critical geographical information in Maryland.

The NSDI Node at UMBC has been created in coordination with federal, state, local, private and non-profit organizations and universities in order to support applications of digital geospatial data on soils, vegetation, water resources as well as census and population information for each county and election district in the State. This practice is critical to regional economic development and the protection of natural resources.

The decision to have UMBC host the Node was "a direct result of a four-year experiment known as the Baltimore-Washington Collaboratory," says Dr. Tim Foresman, director of UMBC's Spatial Analysis Laboratory. NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Census Bureau have been supporting the Collaboratory in order to learn how to better link citizens and state and local decision-makers with vast information resources for improved land-use management. "The Maryland NSDI Node allows for free access to valuable data already paid for by taxpayers in a user-friendly and easily accessible form over the Internet," adds Foresman.

Maryland NSDI data will allow for the evaluation of alternative planning strategies and the development of solutions to the negative impacts of unregulated urban sprawl as well as transportation issues. Citizens and government officials will have a common library of information to draw upon when examining issues of land-use planning and growth control, and for educational purposes. This NSDI Node forms a strategic link for the Baltimore Community/Federal Information Partnership Project, part of the national Livability Agenda.

The data available on UMBC's Maryland NSDI Node is documented using approved "metadata" standards in order to provide users with specific knowledge about the information they are using. The data sets (and accompanying metadata files) are downloadable via a web-based interface. Some of these data sets can even be analyzed and viewed on-line.

The UMBC Node will be announced at the upcoming National GeoData Forum being held June 7-9, 1999 in Washington D.C. Marriott at Metro Center. This important national forum will focus on developing and sustaining livable communities and the role of geographic data in furthering this objective. The NSDI will play a critical role in making these data available to the public, and UMBC's Node will be part of this worthy effort.

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Posted by dwinds1 at June 1, 1999 12:00 AM