California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Mike Chrisman and State Chief Information Officer Teri Takai yesterday announced the launch of a new Cal-Atlas Geospatial Clearinghouse Web site to help government agencies better coordinate their geospatial efforts and allow public access to geospatial data. The innovative approach to technology will allow the general public to access maps, data and information that has not previously been accessible on a single site or from a single source. Geospatial data is information based on geographic locations or characteristics.
The new Web site will centralize a variety of data and information. Cal-Atlas provides a number of important Web accessible services. These include:
Digital maps linked to related information via GIS technologies provide unique capabilities that have gained public awareness. Some of those more commonly known tools include ArcGIS Explorer, Google Earth and Maps, Microsoft Visual Earth, Yahoo Maps and NASA World Wind to name a few. The maps and information available on Cal-Atlas will help users answer important questions related to where to go in cases of an emergency, where a new road might be routed, where are the best places for different activities and recreation.
Using maps to see where things are in relation to each other is also a key to being able to plan and deliver more effective public services. Cal-Atlas is an effort to make sure that agencies have accurate, complete and up-to-date GIS data. It will also help organizations to coordinate their activities, avoid duplication of effort and ensure that they make the most of their data investments. More maps or links to maps will be offered as state agencies roll out their own interactive map based Web sites.
Governor Schwarzenegger last year called for the creation of a GIS task force to develop a statewide strategy to enhance the technology for environmental protection, natural resource management, traffic flow, emergency preparedness and response, land use planning and health and human services. The task force issued a report to the governor recommending, among other things, that the state should have a single office to oversee and coordinate its use of this technology.
Late last year, state CIO Teri Takai told Government Technology she wanted to create a chief geographic officer position.