NAIP Aerial Imagery Might be Moved from the Public Domain to a Licensing Model

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The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is considering moving its National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) from a free aerial imagery service to a licensing model starting the 2019 fiscal year.  NAIP is a program that acquires high resolution imagery during the agricultural growing season across the continental United States every three years. Started in 2003, the imagery program makes the aerials available for free  via the USDA Geospatial Data Gateway, https://gdg.sc.egov.usda.gov/.

A presentation about the 21019 NAIP indicates that the agency is considering moving from a public domain program to a licensing model.  This means that governmental agencies, researchers, and members of the public that rely on this freely available source of high resolution aerial imagery would have to start paying for this services.  The presentation notes that “To date, FSA has not identified any regulatory or statutory requirements that mandate the release of NAIP dataset to the general public.”  A final decision on whether to move the imagery program to a licensing model will be made by May 1, 2018.  A decision to do so will not be a popular one among many of the groups that rely on this imagery.  Indeed, the presentation acknowledges that the decision is “[l]ikely to have significant political “blow back.”” and acknowledges that  “removing the dataset from public domain will have considerable impacts.”

View the presentation: 2019 NAIP

(Via @rjhale)


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