The U.S. Geological Survey is adopting computer techniques to meet the expanding need for cartographic base category data. Digital methods are becoming increasingly important in the mapmaking process, and the demand is growing for physical, social, and economic data. Recognizing these emerging needs, the National Mapping Division began, several years ago, an active program to develop advanced digital methods to support cartographic and geographic data processing. An integrated digital cartographic database would meet the anticipated needs. Such a database would contain data from various sources, and could provide a variety of standard and customized map and digital data file products. This cartographic database soon will be technologically feasible. The present trends in the economics of cartographic and geographic data handling and the growing needs for integrated physical, social, and economic data make such a database virtually mandatory.