Tracy Dash, a GIS specialist with a surveying company near Jacksonville, Florida, introduces the FGDL Metadata Explorer which provides access to free GIS data. Dash holds an undergraduate degree is in Sustainable Design, and a graduate certificate in GIS.
The University of Florida’s Geo-Facilities Planning and Information Research Center, or GeoPlan Center, is an independently funded research center located in Gainesville, Florida. The center was created to provide geospatial information and education to support land use, transportation, and environmental planning for the state of Florida. It is run by Director Dr. Paul Zwick, Co-Director Peggy Carr, and Manager Alexis Thomas.
The center is affiliated with UF’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the College of Design, Construction, and Planning. State government agencies, non-governmental agencies, and other private organizations give approximately 1 to 1.5 million dollars annually to the GeoPlan Center.
The GeoPlan Center is currently accountable for six major projects. Among these are the Efficient Transportation Decision Making program, which provides the government, nonprofit agencies and the public with access to the Florida Department of Transportation’s project plans and environmental impact information. Another GeoPlan initiative is the Land-Use Conflict Identification Strategy, a GIS model that computes potential problems regarding future land use by analyzing current population growth. The Florida Geographic Data Library (FGDL) is also a large project run by the GeoPlan Center.
The FGDL is a free online digital library that houses GIS data layers. Layers are obtained from state and federal government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private companies. The Florida Department of Transportation is chiefly responsible for maintaining and updating the FGDL’s database on a regular basis.
The FGDL is also a supporter of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). From the NSDI site: National Spatial Data is defined as the technologies, policies, and people necessary to promote sharing of geospatial data throughout all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and the academic community. NSDI ultimately aims to decrease the amount of duplicated data and effort, improve data quality while reducing cost, make data more accessible to the public, and encourage relationships among states, counties, cities, schools, and the private sector.
In 1998, when the FGDL was launched, the website consisted of 80 layers. Now, the site contains over 400 layers, most of which are vector. Layer categories include land cover, hydrography, soils, environmental quality, conservation, transportation, and boundaries.
GIS data can be downloaded from the FGDL Metadata Explorer. Site users can search for layers by keyword or theme.