PubTalk 4/2021 - From Data to Maps - The National Geospatial Program

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Detailed Description

Title: From Data to Maps The National Geospatial Program - the Nation's source for topographic information

By: Michael Tischler

  • Responsibilities of a national mapping agency
  • National elevation data
  • National hydrography data
  • Next-generation mapping products 


Date Taken:

Length: 00:54:38

Location Taken: CA, US


Hello everyone, welcome to the

United States Geological Survey

public lecture for this month.

Thanks everyone for joining us tonight.

My name is Christy Ryan and I'm

with our USGS Science Information

Services Office and I will be your

host an your moderator today.

Before I introduce our speaker for tonight,

I have a few announcements to make.

First, I want to give you a heads

up about our lecture for next month.

On May 27th.

We will have USGS research geologist

Austin Elliott on Austin is with our

earthquake Hazard Science Center and

the title of his lectures going to be

where earthquakes hide in the desert.

What we've learned from recent

fault ruptures in the Western US.

So please make sure you save the

date an come back again next month.

And just a few more tips,

because this is like a new virtual platform.

If you need to turn on closed

captioning on your mobile device,

just tap on the screen and look

for the TV icon at the bottom.

If you're on a desktop computer,

click the screen an look for the the

close caption symbol on the bottom,

and just so you know,

we do want this to be a little

bit interactive.

So towards the end of the lecture

we do want to open it up for

question and answer session.

If you have a question for speaker,

you can submit them through the chat window.

To find it just looked towards the

top of your screen in the upper

right hand corner and you should see

a question mark which will bring up

the Q&A panel and you can type in any

question you have there will do our

best at the end to get through all of them,

but please understand we might

not have time for all of them.

And so now I want to introduce

you to our speaker tonight.

Doctor Michael Tischler is the director of

the National Geospatial Program at the USGS.

The National Geospatial Program

provides the Digital Geospatial

Foundation for the United States

and is responsible for designing,


and executing the National

Topographic Mapping Program.

Doctor Tishler provides management

oversight and direction to the

National Geospatial program,

including the national map,

the National Geo Technical Operations Center,

the 3D Elevation Program,

the National Hydrography data set.

The US Topamax series.

Research activities performed at the

Center of Excellence for Geospatial

Information Science and geospatial

data and information in response to

national disasters natural disasters.

I should say Doctor Tishler holds a

Bachelor of Science degree in soil

science from North Dakota University.

A Master of Science degree in soil and

water science from the University of

Florida and a pH D in Earth systems.

Angio information science from

George Mason University.

So with that said,

let's all give a warm virtual

welcome to Doctor Tischler and Mike.

The floor is yours.

Thank you so much Christina million.

It's really wonderful to be here

and to be able

to speak to all of you about

the topographic mapping program.

The National Geospatial Program,

and how we turn data that

we collect into Maps.

I am really privileged to be in

the position that I am leading

the National geospatial program.

We often refer to ourselves as a

nation civilian mapping program.

There are number of people across the

federal government that do mapping.

We actually happen to be the lead

agency at United Youth that USGS

political survey and we've been

doing that for quite some time.

First, I wanted to talk a little bit

about the National Geospatial program,

NGP, and what it is that we do.

We provide national topographic

information to advance science, support,

government enlightened citizens,

enable decision making,

and that's quite a lot.

I often like to say that we aim to

deliver data according to the forays

that you see their data that's authoritative,

accessible, available,

and accurate.

Authoritative is a term that we use

to mean that it's got a reputation

and a government standing behind it.

It's data that you can rely on

and is in this case,

the government is sort of guaranteeing

that this data is the best data that's

possible through its quality through its

accuracy through the rigor that we put in,

how we produce it.

And Speaking of accuracy,

that is something we take very seriously.

We understand that USGS has

been around a long time.

They people understand the name

and when you see USGS on a map

or any other data product,

people have an expectation that that

data is really going to be reliable

and we we live that legacy everyday

in the quality standards and the data

quality standards and delivery and

metadata and all of the work that we

do across the breadth of the program

to make sure that when people use

the data they can stand behind it.

More recently we have a.

Focus on making data that's

iaccessible an available.

It does no good if we spend time and

energy and taxpayer dollars collecting

vast amounts of data and producing Maps.

If it just stays in a virtual drawer,

stays in a computer system,

we want the data out there.

We want people to use it.

We want it easily easy to find

and we wanted to be able to fit.

However, you might want to use it.

Maybe it's a paper map at a

kitchen table for camping trip.

Maybe it's a high end user that wants

to use it that wants to download

our data and use it in a geographic

information system software.


maybe it's just visualizing a digital map.

Or maybe it's it's selecting

data that's out there already.

We want to have data out there in as

many ways as possible so that the

public can use it and industry can use

it to the to their greatest extent possible.

To start,

what is topography?

When I use that term,

why do I use it in one of my referring to?

A lot of different people make

Maps a lot of different people

make different types of Maps.

People use Google Maps every day.

You want to know when Starbucks is open?

How am I going to get to

my kids soccer practice?

Where is my date going to be tonight?

That's something that maybe Google

Maps is really spectacular at

understanding where all the different

retail establishments are in routing.

Maybe not so much the topography where

they're trying to map the natural

in artificial features of an area.

Things like mountains and rivers

and streams and coastlines.

That's really where the USGS comes in.

And in many cases some of those commercial

map providers like Apple Maps or Google Maps.

They use our data and that's

where it comes from.

A big part of what we do is providing

data that's out there for free,

so those applications really

don't have to recreate that data.

They have authoritative data that the

government is already spent funding on,

and they can leverage it to to help

all those other consumer applications.

But when I talk about topography and

this is what my program focuses on,

we're talking about.

Mapping the mostly the natural features

we do add in some administrative

features inbuilt features,

but this is really what we're focusing on.

Why do we map topography?

Well, first it's just exciting,

I think so,

and it's been driving exploration

and it's a reason for exploration.

Since people have been doing

it for thousands of years.

The picture the world's first

map from 600 BC.

So Maps have been around a long time.

It's just that the way people

record information in a special way.

If you bring a map to a table with friends

or family members and we're planning a trip,

it's a conversation starter.

It's just something people like

to do in a way to represent their

knowledge of the world around them.

We also map because we're told in this

case we have direction from Congress

when United US Geological Survey was

stood up in 1879 through our organic act,

they directed mapping

efforts to be completed.

There's a in that case.

It was an economic driver and it still is.

We mapped to support

other economic activities.

The in the early days there was

westward expansion and mining.

The transcontinental railroad.

All of these things required mapping.

It was a bit unexplored and people

need to know what to expect if

they were going to be putting in

railroad or where they might want

to look if they were digging a mine.

Now geospatial services as we

call them location based services,

that could be how FedEx knows

to route from their distribution

center to your front door.

How Uber each driver knows

how to get your food?

How Google Maps can route

you from different places.

All of the geospatial industry that

were a part of where we collect

imagery or other types of data.

That's a $1.6 trillion economy.

It's really remarkable,

and it's it's been wonderful

in Mycareer about 20 years fun

to see that grow from where

it was in the 2000s when I started.

Also it supports travel and recreation.

People want to use Maps so they can gather.

They can go around the country

and they can explore parks.

They can hike, they can camp.

They want to know where the boundaries

of different places are there.

All sorts of different reasons,

and there's really.

This is important when you're dealing

with the disaster response effort

that you want to have commonality.

If you have a number of different people

that are all operating in the same area,

you need to make sure that they're

looking at the same information and

referring to it in the same way it does

no good if people are referring to.

Kill or River by two different names.

Who does all this mapping? Well,

it turns out it's quite a lot of people.

The government does the civil side

of the government like the US

Geological Survey and a number of

my federal partners at the census.

And Noah at all over the place,

and Forest Service,

natural Resource Conservation Service.

Also the military side.

The all of the services, the Army,

the Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard.

They do their own mapping products.

The National Geospatial

Intelligence Agency produces Maps.

There's a number of different military

applications for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes it's intelligence.

Sometimes it's for training

on their own lands, and then,

of course federal, state,

and local governments and tribal

governments will also produce their

own Maps for their own purposes.


the leverage data that comes from

other sources, but they will.

They will produce the Maps that

might suit a particular need.

Industry has a significant role to play.


they're the ones that are

collecting the data.

It could be imagery or mapping a road or

collecting some other site information.

There are software companies

that help us produce the Maps.

There are several surveyors to go

out and make sure that that data

is valid and verify that it's

in the right location and we're

we're living up to that one of

those days and being accurate.

And of course there is private

cartographers that help in making making

the Maps and and sort of the artful side.

Of this process and academia,

there's people that are creating new

instruments to to gather information

about the surface of the earth,

and there's researchers that are

looking at different ways to analyze

data from more mapping information.

So there's quite a large community

and growing community that are

all about topographic mapping

and geospatial information.

How do we map topography?

This is what I'll spend a

significant part on this evening.

We do it in a variety of different

ways to set a little bit of

historical context when mapping

in United States first began,

it was rather slow.

There were surveys that that would

go out and spend quite some time.

It was very manual, methodical,

produced some stunning,

stunning Maps at the time,

and oftentimes those Maps were the source

for other data Mount might get done and

people would pull different parts of that.

Maybe the hydrography or

the contours from that.

And that was really where the data came.


much of what we do is is digital.

Of course it's from satellite

information or from airplanes

that are collecting information.

It's all digital.

All of our mapping is digitized.

We don't do hand drawn Maps,

at least not at the scale

that we're doing in today.

And now Maps come from the data

and that and I'll go through how

we turn that data into map a little

bit into Maps little bit later.

But that animation.

You see,

there's a really good example

that happens to be a

NASA sensor, that's.

A simulation of it flying over

Florida and capturing information.

And that's the kind of kind of ways

that we can turn observations,

in this case from satellite

into data into Maps.

USGS does have a long,

rich history and it's something that

we are quite proud of and it it were.

I am particularly proud that

dictate continue this legacy.

It started in the in the 1870s with

what we call the Great Western Surveys.

Now I will fully admit I am not a historian.

I like to be a scientist.

So if you really want a history lesson,

there are other sources so, but I,

I'll breeze through this to give

you a little bit of context of

where we're coming from and where

we're going to and where we are now.

So there were these Great Western surveys.

That helped with Western expansion.

They looked at in Nebraska,

the 40th parallel for the transcontinental

railroad Rocky Mountain region,

and some of the great geologists at the time,

John Wesley Powell was part of these surveys,

and in fact he just recently had an

anniversary of his survey last year,

which was really great in our prior

prior USGS director was was happy to

contribute in a celebration of that in 1879,

USGS, which,

charged with the classification

of the public lands,

an examination of the geological structure.

Mineral resources and products of the

national domain and Clarence King's picture.

There was selected as the first director.

Following that topographic mapping

really came under its its own

efforts with John Wesley Powell and

those two names John Wesley Powell.

Clarence King are very well

known to people at USGS today.

These are names we know well for a long time.

John Wesley Powell's desk was in the

lobby of building when you came in.

It was really interesting to see

that legacy carried out today.

John Wesley Powell,

understood topographic mapping

was really required if you wanted

to do geologic mapping,

understanding how the surface of the

Earth moved and how it was mapped really

influenced where you're going to see.

The geologic formations and

mining and other minerals expose.

In the 1930s we added aerial

imagery mostly after World War One,

when people who are coming more

familiar with that and there were

cartographers that had some skill with

how to collect the imagery interpreted

and turn it into mapping products.

In the 40s and 50s we produced

124 thousand scale Maps,

which is the same scale we've produced today,

and that's sort of the zoom level

you can think about it in response

to we did this for in response to

requests for more detail people wanted.

High resolution sort of zoomed in Maps,

so we worked on at the time on how we

might be able to support that and we

also contributed to a lot of technical

achievements we have been and still

are a leader in the geospatial and

mapping and cartographic fields.

In the 1960s we developed orthorectified

aerial photographs and what that

really means is an aerial image that

has been been changed and modified

to make sure it fits the surface

of the Earth correctly and you're

not seeing a

lot of distortions or anomalies.

And make sure it's an accurate picture

and not one that just looks kind of weird

and doesn't really line up correctly.

So if you look real close at

that graphic on the upper right

on the left hand side of it,

there's a line that's going from

sort of northwest to southeast.

And it's it's kind of a little jagged

in the middle of the hump and on the

right hand side that's been rectified

so that line is actually straight,

like it appears in in real life.

Moving forward into the next century.

In 1976, we completed the

first digital elevation model.

That's a way of taking elevation data

and turning it into a representation

that computer can understand,

sort of like a photograph,

but instead of, but it's really a

photograph of the elevation where

every part of that picture that pixel

has an elevation data measurement.

We worked on how to accelerate mapping

and do mapping scale and do it at

a different scales for people that

might have different applications,

and in the 70s and 80s we

converted different data layers.

In this case transportation.

And hydrography from Maps to digitize

data to support the 1990 census.

And in fact,

Census Bureau in USGS were the first

agencies to really produce digital

geospatial data for that 1990 census,

and we have a longstanding

partnership with census that we

quite enjoy an we produced in 1987

one meter resolution orthorectified

imagery for the lower 48 states.

That means that every pixel

was 1 meter in size,

about 1 yard and that was really substantial.

USGS was a great leader and in these.

But we called digital ortho quarter quads.

And it was just a great

service for the nation.

Really proud to have done that in 1991.

After about 40 years,

USGS completed the first series of 124

thousand scale mapping of the United States.

That's about 55,000 Maps.

So I want you to keep that in mind.

That was about 40 years.

It took us to complete it once over

55,000 Maps in the 90s we worked on

completing national scale datasets

for elevation and hydrography.

In 2001, we launched the digital map,

which was the the digital wave

of representing and delivering a

lot of these information products

in partnership with.

Federal, state,

local and tribal datasets and in 2009

we started out on all digital automated

semi automated production of that

same with the 24,000 scale mapping series.

What took us 40 years but the first

time around takes us about three years.

Now we've really accelerated so we can

produce about 1:30 United States every.

Every year and that means we can take it.

Takes about three years to

cover the entire United States,

so water in these Maps, well,

there's lots of things.

It starts with the map elements,

and these are going to include

things like the North Arrow.

That's maybe is a little.

Also shows the magnetic North,

or people that really want to use the map,

not just for visualization,

but might want to navigate up on it.

It's going to show you the scale it's

going to show you some other information.

The projection which shows which is

the technical term for how the map

was really created so that it fits

the surface of the Earth correctly.

And a lot of technical information

for people that need that level

of accuracy and understanding.

There's the projections ingrids.

This is a way where people can

reference the latitude in Lanja

tude and help figure

out exactly where they are.

Geographic names are on there and

there is an authoritative data set

that I'll talk about in a few minutes

that shows people what are the names

of the features that you're seeing.

What could be a town?

It could be a River, could be a summit.

There's a number of different

structures that we include in the Maps.

In this case is it's, I believe,

a fire station in schools that you see there,

there's transportation features.

There's roads, trails, railroads,

airports, all sorts of different things.

We we work with the Fish and Wildlife

Service to help maintain a wetlands data set,

national national wetlands inventory

that shows up on these Maps.

There's hydrography features that,

again, I'll explain.

That's an emphasis we have at USGS,

and I'll explain much more about

that data set in a few minutes.

We have the terrain data,

the topography we have contours.

We have what's called a shaded relief,

which is a different way to

represent the elevation.

It's sort of.

If you were to look at the

sun from a particular angle,

this is,

this is what you would see would be

shaded and helps really emphasized

the elevation helps you understand

what you're looking a little bit more.

If you have a little trouble

reading contours,

it's just a different way of

representing the elevation in terrain.

We have Woodland that's the green part there,

so you can see what's where.

There's would cover and that comes

from other data sets like the

national land cover data set that's

built from satellite imagery.

We have boundary information,

which are the jurisdictional

boundaries could be counties.

It could be states it could be other things.

Those are included.

Everyone of our tempo Maps,

all 55,000 come with an image base,

so you can see actually what is what.

The actual image of that ground

is and what it looks like,

not just the representation

through all these features,

but actually an image.

And then we have a barcode down there

in the bottom right hand corner

and this is a really rather new and

new development within the last,

maybe five or six years.

What this allows us to do is to

register each map with some of

our partners in the in the in

the Department of Defense.

In this case, the Defense Logistics Agency.

That means that if there is a need

for a mass distribution of Maps to

support humanitarian humanitarian

assistance effort or disaster response,

and there's a National Guard

unit that needs a number of Maps

for rescue and recovery,

like after Hurricane Harvey,

they can request the map from deal

from the Defense Logistics Agency and

our partners at DLA will print the

map and deliver it within 24 hours

and they'll print like thousands of them,

and we've done that a few different

times since we've instituted these

barcodes and every one of our.

Are Maps has these and it's really

a great way

to leverage this resource so that our

partners that are out there and need

to help people and need to have Maps.

Authoritative Maps in their hands really,

really quickly don't have to waste time and

they have a paper map that they can rely on.

There's a number of data sources that we all

of these data come from different places.

And we work with partners all across

the federal government to understood

to gather that data an aggregate it

into a consistent data store into our

indoor databases and into our Maps.

We get them from.

Sometimes we produce it ourselves.

I mentioned geographic names and elevation

and hydrography and the Woodland layer.

Those are all datasets at the USGS has.

I talked, we have other partners in

the federal government that we partner

with the image base that I mentioned

comes from a program called the National

Agriculture Agricultural Imagery

Program that's run by the Department

of Agriculture but has contributions

from a number of different agencies.

They fly the entire country and

they produce those images.

We help them fund the effort and

then we get the data on the back end

for a topographic mapping and we

can help deliver it to the public.

We have a number of different data layers

that you see there that come from our

partners in the federal government and

in some cases if it's not available.

Or if the industry has it is just

easier to go out and purchase it and

make sure that we have the right

license so that we can deliver it

to the public through our products.

But we end up being an aggregator

from a number of these different

sources to be able to produce a high

quality map that fits the needs.

The general purpose needs of the

public and a lot of our partners.

An interesting one that will point

out there is a national structures

data set we we rely on.

Actually a citizen science effort.

There's a few thousand contributors

that are public citizens and anybody

can join that help make sure that

data set is robust and accurate.

They'll help us make sure that the

points are actually where they should

be on top of the structures and that

the information about those structures,

the attributes that could be the

correct spelling or the address.

That's all correct that they

produce really high quality data.

And we're very happy to have them

contribute to our structures data set.

There's a couple of programs I want

to talk about more in depth because

their efforts of ours right now

priority efforts of ours right now,

and they're really interesting to cover,

and I think it's it's just fun

to see how we turn the data,

how we collect the data and turn it

into a map for the elevation data

where those contours come from,

and how often do we repeat it,

and how accurate are they?

Well, we have a an effort right now

called the 3D Elevation program.

Three DEP that aims to collect enhanced

elevation data in the form of high

quality light detection and ranging.

That's a term called Lidar.

Over the entire United States, Hawaii,

the US territories within an 8 year period.

It's a really ambitious goal,

and when I say it's high quality,

I mean super high quality.

This is about the best data that you

can get without actually going on

the ground and visiting every square.

Meter yourself,

which nobody really wants to do.

And right now we've got about 75% of

the country, including Alaska covered.

We use a little different instrument

in Alaska,

but for right now we've got about 75%

of the country that has enhanced data.

Light aren't in the lower 48

states away in the territories and

radar base instrument in Alaska.

What is lidar?

It's a, it's an instrument and

it looks kind of like that one.

In fact,

that is an actual LIDAR instrument

in the bottom right hand by

manufacturer called Regal.

It's about 30 inches in height.

It's an oversized coffee can

type of thing that looks usually

straight down from an airplane.

And it shoots lasers that shoot

lasers really fast and really often

a couple 100,000 times a second,

and their sensors in the plane that

measure how long it takes that every pulse,

every laser pulse to shoot back or

shoot down, bounce off of something,

and come back and oftentimes that might

bounce off a few things and get split.

But the sensors are smart enough to

understand what light is coming back

and when it's coming back so they

can turn that into a map because

they know how fast the light was.

Was traveling the speed of light,

and they know how long it took

part of that like to come back.

They do this very,

very fast over wide areas and they

can turn that data into what's

called a point cloud.

And that's what you see here

on the upper left,

where their mapping an incredibly

high detail.

When an area looks like using

this using this method,

and this is probably millions

and millions of points that

you're seeing just in this area,

here are standard is we typically shoot for

at least two points every square meter,

and these are.

These are measurements,

they're not estimations,

they're they're very accurate,

and that gives us a lot of very high

quality measurements that we can rely on.

We can look at the.

The canopy structure of forests.

We can look at the sides of

bridges we can look at landslides

and hydrographic features and

volcanoes and all sorts of things.

Here's a couple of examples and

we turned that point Cloud and

what we call an elevation model.

It's just the processing step that

kind of looks at the average average

elevation data and turns it into

something more recognizable as an image.

It gives us a really,

really not just a beautiful image,

but when it's very useful from a

scientific perspective because

they are measurements, it's data.

It's really great.

People can measure up on it.

They can do analysis upon it,

to understand how the landscape

has changed or how it might take,

or how how long it might take to get

from one place to another with the

slope is how the sun is going to

shine on an area just the right way.

There's lots of different

applications for this.

It's a significant improvement when we

look at 1 meter resolution elevation

models that were producing from this program.

This is upgrading from what what

is out there.

Now that's 10 meters that you

see in the in the lower left,

and that means that every square that's

part of this image is 1 meter in

size as opposed to 10 meter in size.

It's really fantastic.

That's the term we use for resolution

and just beautiful images.

Here's another example that shows the

level of detail were able to get and how,

how much we're improving over

what's out there right now.

You can see features you can

understand features that you

really never knew were there,

and we don't do this alone.

We have a number of different

partners since 2016,


we've partnered with 18 federal

agencies and an over 250 or bottom

almost 250 state and local governments.

These have all contributed funding

to us to go out and make sure that we

can collect this data and then we hosted,


delivered back to the public so everyone

can enjoy all of the contributions

that these people have made.

And it's it's really exceptional.

It's not often in government.

You get to see this level of

cooperation and collaboration

between so many partners that so

many different levels of government.

And it's it's really fun to be a part

of an every one of these partners

has a story about why they want it,

their application,

and oftentimes they're very different

could be for water resources.

It could be for a forestry application.

It could be that they're building

a new highway,

and that's the fun part of the job too.

Is understanding just how these

people are using the data.

So we spent a lot of time doing this.

It's not cheap, it's a lot of money.

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Why are we doing this?

And is it a value to the public?

Well, that's actually how

this program started.

We set about in around 2011 and 2012 to

understand what would be the value of

this kind of a data set to the public.

We call that study the national

Enhanced Elevation Assessment and

to provide that justification,

we surveyed a number of different

federal agencies and States and other

partners to determine how valuable

they thought this data would be.

And what kind of data they did need?

And it turns out that.

The The ideal program to maximize all

these benefits costs about a billion

dollars number one that was something,

and we determined that that best

sort of bang for the Buck by that

chart that you see in the middle.

We looked at all the different

ways to get the data.

We could do it every year at

a super high quality level.

Or we could do it 25 years that

are really really poor resolution

data that would be cheaper.

And we found out that if we shoot

for the middle about eight years

and a moderate resolution or

moderately high resolution,

that would satisfy the most benefits

that our partners were telling us

they needed it the most requirements.

For about the least amount of money,

but it still cost about a billion

dollars to collect that data level data

for the whole country now were rather

small program in a rather small Bureau,

so that's why we needed all those partners.

We just can't afford to do this ourselves.

The other interesting thing is

just how much this returns.

So I mentioned that that's about a billion

dollars over 8 years to collect the data.

The other thing this national enhanced

Elevation Assessment told us was this

returns to the country every year and

benefits somewhere between 1 billion

and $13 billion depending on site was used.

See you,

you get that return very very

quickly and in perpetuity,

which is great and that really validates

why we want to do something like this

and the business cases are from flood

risk management and turns out FEMA.

The Federal Emergency Management

Agency is one of our biggest partners.

They use this data to upgrade

their update their flood hazard

Maps to infrastructure River and

stream source management and even

land navigation and safety.

When this was completed in 2011,


it wasn't quite yet known how the

autonomous navigation industry

would use something like this,

and that's why there's quite a range there,

from conservative to potential benefits.

But it is a.

It is actually a use an application

that we're proud to help partner with.

So it's really,

I think the juice is worth the squeeze.

I think we proved it and it was really.

It's great to have that level of

validation an in fact that's turned

into a best practice and we do it

with a number of other data layers.

Now to to make sure that we're still

providing data that's relevant and useful,

and it's a good value for the public.

An example of that is what we're

doing now with Hydrography,

International hydrography data sets.

RNHD represents the

nation's drainage network.

This is their surface water

of the United States.

The rivers, streams, canals,

lakes, ponds, glaciers, coastlines,

damson stream gauges.


it's it's not just blue lines or things

that you would see on a map is a blue line.

It's a lot more than that.

It's really a connected hydrographic network

that is really rather sophisticated.

One of the things we do is we

break down all of those stream

features in a little in a little

segments that we call reaches.

Each one of those reaches

has had very unique address,

much like your street address.

That means that I can with one

code I can refer to a very

small segment of a stream.

It's really useful if you're

collecting data about that stream.

Maybe I'm counting fish,

maybe I'm doing a water quality measurement.

Maybe I've produced a report about

the settlement that's occurring in

that particular area that cannot be

tagged by that one stream reach code.

It's a great way to organize an

aggregate data about the River and

about the River system itself.

In addition,

we want to know where is the water

that's in that River come from

those are called catchments and

we also organize that.

That's sort of the lower

center colorful graph you see.

Those are the catchment areas

every stream reach as an area into

which all the water will the falls.

There will flow into the River and

we code those and understand those

and that is really how you're able

to do some sophisticated modeling.

If you have an understanding of the

precipitation of rainfall event that occurs,

and you know where it's falling in

the landscape and you know which

parts of the landscape or flowing

into which parts of the rivers.

And where those different parts of

the tributaries are meeting other rivers,

you can model an entire event.

By event,

I mean an entire rain storm or hurricane,

and that really helps people

understand where there's going to be.

Water availability,

where there's going to be accessing

water in terms of a flood,

where there might be a drought.

So some other attributes that are

included in this that makes it a

sophisticated system or the flow

direction we know which way the

River is flowing,

and we can tell each stream

reach which way it's going,

and that allows for some

navigation so that we can trace.

For example, if there is a contaminant.

If there is an event where there's

a factory or something else that

ends up leaking into the water,

we can trace where that goes

throughout the River system.

We did the specific data product we produce

is called the NHD plus high resolution.

That's our highest resolution

hydrography product.

It includes the mapping of the rivers in the

streams and the watershed boundary data set.

Which of those catchments it's based on

the that uses the elevation data for the

catchment areas includes flow direction an.

These accumulation services,

which is a fancy term for how much waterfalls

where and it adds all those attributes

for stream navigation analysis and enables.

A modeling of the water flow,

and here's a really good

example of what I mean.

When I say water flow.

This is a national water model produced

by the National Weather Service.

They do this operationally all the

time and they use our national

hydrography data set to do it.

What you're seeing here is

actually a little bit older.

It's in 2015,

but this is a precipitation event that moved

from West to East across United States,

and those different colors

are showing the stream flow.

The cubic feet per second that occur.

Different parts of those streams where it's.

This is a.

It looks a bit like the

country breathing with it,

which I find really exciting,

but it also is a great way to

to show or a real application

of why this data is useful.

This is something is really impactful

for the National Weather Service.

To understand where there's going

to be flooding and to get understand

ahead of time so they can get that

information out to the public.

So again, is it used for the squeeze?

Is it really worth all the

effort you're putting into it?

Well, we did another study,

hydrography requirements and benefits study.

We documented 120 mission

critical uses with a number of

different partners once again,

and we found that there was over over

a billion total annual benefits,

and that really gives us a justification

for continuing to upgrade the

hydrography data like we do and

make sure it's available and open

ways that people can use and access

and build into their their business

processes and make smart decisions.

There is a growing demand,

so we are we're moving from where we

have been in the past where we have

an HD plus medium resolution product

that supports the national water model

to our higher resolution product,

that much that much greater scale.

And if you want you to focus on that

bottom number for a second there and

the number of features and those

are the the hydrographic features,

the water features and stream

reaches that you see in the medium

resolution product that's part

of that national water model.

There's about two and a half

million features that go into that.

When and we produced the National

Hydrography plus high Resolution data set,

that's an order of magnitude more features

that are included much higher Fidelity.

A much greater scale,

sort of zoomed in if you want

to think about it that way,

and those are just fantastic datasets,

and that one is so great that the the

modeling on that can't be done yet.

They they need the need to build some

models to be able to support that data set.

Where we're going is actually using

that rich LIDAR data set that I talked

about for the country and getting

the hydrography from that we called

arriving it where we can actually pull

the hydrography data out of the train.

We spent a lot of time and effort collecting.

It went as well, use it,

and when you do that,

that's going to increase the

number of features.

Another order of magnitude.

And that's where we're going in the

next 5 or 10 years is to see how we

can drive out like the hydrography

directly from that light or data to

produce just a fantastic data set.

It will be something that no other

country can really enjoy the scale.

Another data set that we spent a

lot of time on that it's just I find

really interesting and I didn't expect

that I would find it so interesting.

When I joined USGS geographic names.

I I don't know that any of you have

spent much time thinking about how

different features along the land

around the landscape get named,

but there is actually a process

that is quite fascinating and it's

been around for a long long time

and there is some authority.

There's a public law that states the

Secretary of Interior shall promulgate

in the name of the Board of Geographic

Names to scissons decisions with respect

to geographic names and principles of

geographic nomenclature in orthography,

and in case you wanted to

know what orthography was.

I had to look it up.

Orthography is really how you write

a language to include the spelling,

the hyphens, capitalization,

word breaks, emphasis and punctuation,

and in fact the booted board on

geographic names that have been

stood up dates back to when the

USGS was first created in 1890.

Turns out just this week there

was a first report from the US

Board on Geographic Names in 1890.

In 1891 that showed up on eBay.

You'll be sad to hear that it is no

longer for sale because I bought it

and it's showing up at my door step

next week and I'm quite excited.

Now there is a board on geographic

names that meets every month and they

have since 1890 and I'm lucky enough

to be the Department of Interior

member that sits on that board.

The the Board on Geographic Names

has a domestic names committee

that's mostly focused on the names

within the United States.

We have a four names committee that

looks at standardization of names

across the globe with other naming

authorities from different countries.

There's the executive committee

that helps run it.

There's some special committees on

Native American names in communications,

and then if we have subject matter

experts that help advise us on

undersea features and Arctic features

with the Domestics Names Committee,

there is in red are the ones from

the Department of Interior where

the US Geological Survey fits.

We have a number of different partners.

You'll notice that most of these are

what we call Land Management agencies.

They have ownership of different land,

like Bureau of Land Management

or Fish and Wildlife Service or

the National Park Service.

That different geographic

names are on their land,

and that's why it's important.

Part of this board.

Then of course we have a number of

other partners that are really anybody

that has an interest in producing a

federale map or understanding of a

federale name like the Postal Service,

and that is really what this board does.

It standardizes names for production on

Federale geographical products in Maps.

We have a number of different

policies we we don't vote on a

name if it's pending in Congress,

and you might wonder why that

is or why does that matter.

It's really good example and it's the

tallest mountain in United States Mount.

What was Mount McKinley and is now

Denali for McKinley was president

from Ohio and there was an interest

from people asking others to

name Mount McKinley, rename it.

Denali for a number of years.

The congressional delegation

from Ohio would put in.

Legislation to make sure that

that name stayed McKinley.

It didn't go anywhere but every

Congress they put in a new bill

that suggested that that name

not be renamed because it was

pending even though there was no.

There was no push.

We were not able to take up

that name change even though

there were a lot of local local

Alaskans wanted the name change.

It turns out that was actually in in 2015,

2016 English 2015 Secretary Sally Jewell

at the time of Department interior,

did make that name change my

secretarial order because the Board

on geographic names what it was

since it was pending legislation,

we couldn't act on it,

so it's a really great example

of where we cannot act if there's

pending legislation and why we need a

compelling reason for changing a name,

we don't just do it Willy nilly.

There's gotta be a reason and

just and a justification,

and that the name meets

all these other policies.

You can name a feature for somebody

or rename it feature for somebody,

but they must be deceased

for at least five years.

They would like to see that they

have an Association with the feature

or made a significant contribution.

Maybe it was land that they owned,

or they farmed, or they visited often,

or there's all sorts of reasons

people can have a connection to

a particular geographic feature.

There is a wilderness area,

geographic names policy.

One of the great things about

wilderness areas,

and you learn this is a voice.

Got a Girl Scout as you leave no trace,

we follow the same philosophy with names.

We don't apply new names and

wilderness areas.

We will rename a name,

but we won't put a new name.

There are a number of derogatory

and offensive names actually

in the country right now,

and we encourage changes to

any name considered offensive

by an individual or group.

The eyes in the beholder.

We're not ones to say what

is offensive or what is not,

or what is derogatory and what

is not different.

Different groups of people will

view that differently and will

rely on them to provide us a

justification for why they think

they might want to be changed.

We have a policy for diacritics.

These are things like UML outs and

all sorts of different features

that occur in different alphabets.

We just need to make sure that

they can be

rendered by a keyboard and

showing up in a database.

We have a policy for duplicate

and similar names that doesn't

really make much sense to have

duplicate names near to each other.

If there's six rivers all named

Clear River in the same County

can be a little confusing and at.

This way no purpose from a consistency

and standardization perspective.

Names of variance and in fact what you

see here is Devils Tower in Wyoming

and all those names on the right hand

side or variant names in the debate.

The database that we how's that your

graphic names information system?

You can search by variant names so

you can understand what all those

are and maybe you use a variant name

as opposed to the name that is,

that is the formal accepted name.

It also provides a historical record.

You can see how the name was

referred to or how it changed.

We have a policy on on long names.

We really want to focus on having last

names only and not full names of people.

And we have a an extensive policy about

how we deal with tribal geographic names,

and that's we want to make sure we

understand or trust responsibilities

which tribe and and take care and how

they approach their naming responsibilities.

Commercial names is another

really interesting topic.

There might be a number of different

reasons why companies or industries might

want to rename a geographic feature.

Maybe they want to have Coca Cola Mountain,

or Pepsi River.

That's not something that we

believe should be allowed.

We don't want to be seen as endorsing

business or commercial products.

And here's a few examples of ones that we.

In some cases we did approve another

ones we didn't Tysons Corner is a

commercial center here in Northern Virginia.

It's an unincorporated city so it

falls under the purview of the border.

Nicknames and they desire to change

their name from Tysons Corner to Tysons.

There was some thought about

the commercial applications,

but in the end the board voted that we we

could approve that name their Rotary Club.

Many of you might know that Association

they wanted to name a peak in.

I believe it was Colorado number

of years ago and that was only did

not support because it was directly

linked to that club in their efforts.

And of course,

some people might want to name their

features after pets or other animals,

only in rare instances where

we allow something like that.

We do have a database of the that we

have all these names and when there's a

name change it goes into that database.

It was developed 40 years ago and

it has over 2.2 million features and

includes all of the physical features

and then also submit administrative ones.

And this is the authoritative

names for all federal products.

If you're creating a federal map and

you or any other product that needs

the authoritative Federale name,

this is where you go to get it.

There's a lot of information

that's historical that's very,

very valuable as an archive and

a representation of how we viewed

our landscape over the years.

There's just a couple of examples

that show up when you go and

search for geographic name.

I did want to talk quickly

about governance with so many

actors producing so much data.

You can wonder how we're all

connected and indeed we are.

There is a Federal Geographic data committee.

That's a formal structure that links

all of the federal entities that

collect geospatial information and

they manage it like a portfolio

where they've identified a number

of framework data sets in yellow

and a number of other supporting

datasets there in white,

and they've assigned a government

agency lead for each one of them.

And in fact I'm lead for elevation

and water inland.

Since we manage the 3D elevation program

in the National Hydrography data set,


that might be under that theme we

have a number of other data sets

that could come from somebody else,

maybe Department of Homeland Security

or the Forest Service has an elevation

data set that they maintain.

That's really important.

We include that as owners of that theme.

Overall there's 18 themes with

173 different datasets,

and these are all organized to

make sure that we're not stepping

on each others toes.

There's cooperation there, sharing.

We're not banning same data twice.

And everybody is really connected

and coordinated to make sure

we're spending the data wisely

and sharing it like we should.

Where we going in the future?

There's a lot of different players,

particularly industry.

What is the place for the state

and the government were looking at

at innovation and delivery and in

science and research and building

the next generation of products.

There was a.

British economist John Maynard Keenes,

who who had this quote here that I

really like and it was compounded

upon by Mariana Mazza Cotto,

a European contemporary when

she's around right now,

written a book called the

Entrepreneurial State and she has a

great Ted talk out there where they

talked about the important thing

for government to do is not to do

things which individuals are doing

already and do them a little better.

A little worse but to do those things

which are not present done at all.

Things like a national elevation data set.

And that's a really good example.

We're also producing in that effort

of dynamic mapping product process.

Where we can allow people to come into

our topographic mapping archive and

create a map where they wanted to do that,

we have to make sure the data can

adapt to our different people.

Might want to call upon it.

This is a quick graphic that

shows different hydrography data

at different zoom levels.

We want to think about it that way.

If you want to see how drug

feature at one zoom level and I

want to see it at a different,

that data needs to know which

one to draw too.

And we built that intelligence into the data.

Which allows for dynamic mapping.

We've also got intelligence into the

data so that every everybody likes

Maps and those at the most interesting

thing is that the seams of different

Maps were building a system where

you can drop a point anywhere you

want and have a map build around

that with the features that you want.

It scales that you might be interested in,

not just the only data they exist at that

we're referring to is dynamic mapping.

We're hoping to release to the

public it sometime in the future.

And that will be quite a bit of

quite a different shift from

how we produce our products now,

which are the standard scales

are used to seeing.

Only at those scales and only at

the center points where we have

that we're going to be moving to

something that might fit how people

want to use that data more.

We have a great concept for how

we're linking data in the on the

landscape with data at the coast and

data in the ocean called 3D Nation.

We have partners in the National Oceanic

and Atmospheric Administration for that.

And we're building this concept called

the 3D National Topographic model,

to understand how we can model

everything from the highest

mountains into the oceans,

the depths of the oceans connected

to groundwater to engineered systems

like storm water in urban areas,

and research different ways of

representing that data.

So people like the National

Weather Service can build upon

it and create better products for

people to save lives and property.

I did want to make sure that people

understood dude our level best

and make sure we deliver the data

out to where people can get it.

We do that through stage products

like the paper Maps.

Are you used to?

If you are a sophisticated user you

can you know what a web mapping

service and other services are that

you can integrate into your platforms.

Then there are other software

development terms or ways of if you

wanted to leverage our data in a

software development application or

web map that you can do that as well.

The national

is the main way to get our data.

So please do visit and make use of

the programs and let us know how it's

going and we do work very hard to

continue feeding the geospatial appetite.

There are a number of different

applications that are out there right now.

We want to make sure we support

them from landslides to volcanoes

to all sorts of different things.


we want to make sure that we are

delivering data that meets the needs

of the public to keep everybody safe.

Save lives and property and building

the national infrastructure and a

number of different national priorities.

And I will leave it there.

OK, Mike, thank you so much.

You covered a lot of really

great materials there,

I think now at this point we

can go ahead and open it up.

For the Q&A we did get a

few questions that came in.

So let me start with the first one here.

This one came in from Paul.

He says this may be described in the talk,

but I was curious on where the elevations

listed on Google Earth are coming from.

Is that from USGS data and are they reliable?

I would say there almost certainly coming

from the from the US Geological Survey.

I would say there was.

They should be reliable I it's

hard for me to tell without knowing

particularly what data you're looking

at or what data set it's coming from.

But if Google Maps or anybody else is

really looking for an authoritative

national scale data set of elevation,

they're going to have to get it from

the USGS. The data might be coming.

Might be a little bit older.

And it depends on what reliable means

one of the more popular datasets

without and it's out there right now,

was flown in the early 2000s

from actually a space shuttle,

but the accuracy isn't real good.

It's not like we have light are now.

If you're gathering elevation

data from lighter,

it's going to be much more accurate.

So I guess the answer Paul the

data is probably from USGS,

but the reliability or the the

accuracy of it might depend on

what the source of the data was.

OK, great, thank you.

Another question that came in,

excuse me.

This is from Lee and does the purview

of this data include underwater

topographical Maps as well or is this

maintained strictly for landmasses?

Great question that term for underwater

topographic mapping is called

the symmetry when you're actually

measuring the elevation beneath water,

it could be inland in a River or Lake,

or it could be in the coastal

or or oceanographic sense.

We absolutely do that as well

and we partner with Noah for in

the Army core of engineers.

For mapping some of those things,

we've actually got some pilot areas

right now where we're we're mapping

both of them at the same time,

so we can fly one sensor that able to

map over the land an over the ocean,

and we can create a seamless

elevation product that goes underwater

and back up again to land.

OK great, we have one on here that

I'm just waiting for a little bit of

clarification on, so let me move on.

This one says than you US Topamax seem

to differ a little bit from me older

U estopa from the older USGS to pose

well the older to pose remain available

and will the new Maps eventually have

all the data that the older ones do?

That's a great question and we

get that from time to time.

I'm not anticipating that the historical

Topo Maps are going to go away anytime soon.

They were really popular product.

We see that in the download rates

all the time and there are great

archive for people that really want to

know how the landscape has changed.

There's a reason why the date is

not the same.

When we in 2009 stood up

the automated system,

we had to make some sacrifices in order

to have our frequency of mapping in

the scale of mapping that we did so

that we could turn over Maps pretty

quickly every three years and 740 years,

we had to sacrifice some of the

some of the quality aspects we

we want to have a product.

It was more responsive.

We could have the same level

of accuracy if we,

if we had hundreds and hundreds of

photographers that were able to walk

the Earth and really describe the

landscape the way they did it for 40

years for their historical temple Maps.

In some ways,

to answer the second part of that question,

will they be as accurate?

I think it depends.

The light,

our data that we're collecting will

surpass any accuracy of the contours

that were on the historical topo Maps.

Some of the data that was on the

historical topo Maps like mine locations.

We may not be able to reproduce,

so it's another one of those ones

where it depends the hydrography and

elevation were able to do in far greater

detail now then on the historical Maps.

But some of those features

on the historical Maps are.

They might remain as the the most

authoritative source and we want to

harvest those where we can reuse

them and in some cases we have.

In other cases we're going to

build upon it the best way we can.

OK, great, another one

just came in from Alan.

From what sources do most inquiries

actions for the BGN come from exact.

Examples are derogatory names, new names?

They all come from the public from

citizens like anybody that's listening.

The anybody can submit a proposal,

and if you have an interest lots of times,

there are people that have a

connection to the area around them.

Or maybe there are.

We've got ones from high schools that

want to name a feature for their

massive for their high school mascot.

We've gotten ones where people.

There's a historical figure

that they want to.

They would like to to recognize for

their importance in the area other

people they they hike in a particular

area and they they know there's no

name for the for summit or Crag.

So they want to put a name to

it so it's more recognizable.

They come from all over the

place from all over the country.

OK, great, uh,

one more I'm seeing here you mentioned

volunteer opportunities to update structures.

Do you still need volunteers and how

would one find out more or apply to help out?


we were happy to take volunteers if you

search through the national map core CR.

PS I have no doubt you'll be

able to very quickly find the

registration link where you connect

with us and get signed up.

OK awesome, I'm not at this point

seeing any other questions come through.

So Mike, we thank you again for you

know being our speaker tonight an

answering all these great questions

that people are coming up with.

I also want to thank everybody out there

in virtual land for joining us today.

Just in case you want to watch Mike's

presentation later or share it with others,

it will be available in about a

week on our public lecture website.

I believe the slide is up there now

and we do hope that you'll join

us again next month on May 27th

at 7:00 PM Pacific Time again.

That will be Austin Elliott's

presentation on earthquakes.

So until then, thank you all for joining us.

Thank you again to Mike

for being our presenter.

Keep an eye out on our website.

Will have Mike stock archived.

We have last month stock archived as

well as ones from many many years past.

So again thank you for joining us.

Have a good evening and goodbye for now.