The USGS has a number of clever ways for users to search, navigate, purchase, and download maps and data… the Map Locator is the latest addition and it’s pretty darned sweet! Using a Google Maps UI, visitors search the map by entering a search string, zoom into an area of interest, or select a point on the map for relevant hits. Once you’ve explored, you then have access to free data served up as GeoPDFs… read on for more about working with these GeoPDF data products… best of all this is all FREE!
As a sample, I search using the term “Fort Collins, CO” – optionally, I can elect to view results that are either 7.5 or 15 minute (zoom in tighter for this one), or for 30 minute datasets. Clicking on the ever-familiar Google map balloon icon invokes a pop-up window that displays all the available map products. In my case I see a 7.5×7.5 quadrangle, a 30×60 sheet, and a 1×2 from a nearby area. Optionally, I can then order the data or even cooler… download the file directly (so why the heck would anyone actually go and pay to download this data from a datadepot or other “commercial” provider of these free data?). Clicking the “all maps for this location” option brings up a HUGE list of maps and data products for this region (shaded relief, topos, elevation maps, and other scientific data products). Clicking the “Download” link causes just that, I download a 5 MB file containing the USGS topo file. The download was not terribly fast, however, I did get 105 kb p/sec download… not bad. Compare this to other USGS data providers that will throttle-back their downloads to about 5 or 10 KB a second for a free download – you may as well go grab a coffee and the newspaper while doing that ;0)
GeoPDF Toolbar allows users to view multiple coordinate display, re-project to most coordinate systems, measure distance and bearing, zoom to any coordinate, and connect to GPS and track. After installing GeoPDF Toolbar you will have a new toolbar within Reader that will be active when viewing a GeoPDF (geospatially enabled PDF document). This toolbar will allow you to view coordinates, reproject user coordinates, measure distance and area, zoom to a coordinate, Google Map a specific coordinate and connect to a GPS device. Additionally, layers can be turned on and off, associated attributes can be viewed by selecting the Object Data Tool and clicking on specific objects in the map and finally, the map can be searched by selecting the Adobe Search Binoculars and typing in keywords. Note that the Search feature will query both data on the map and embedded data.
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