[From Oracle Corp.
Recent advances in geospatial technologies, including Global Positioning System (GPS), satellite imaging, 3-D laser scanning, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), have dramatically shortened the time needed for georeferenced data acquisition and processing. Thanks to the policies of U.S. government agencies (especially EPA, NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and the U.S. Census Bureau), most U.S. geospatial data is free and readily available on the internet. A wide range of Web portals, from the U.S. National Map Viewer to numerous agency, state, and local sites provide easy access to a variety of basic (imagery, elevation, hydrography, roads) and thematic (census, land cover, vegetation, water quality) data. The availability of data has stimulated extensive development of new geospatial tools (Google Earth, and many others), but most of the tools focus on basic tasks such as viewing and querying (where things are, how to get from point A to B).
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