Business Tax Filing
Your Neighborhood On World's Largest Online Database
January 14, 1998
Have you visited the world's largest online database? Check it
out! You will join millions of others who have located their homes,
work places, and even favorite vacation spots. A cooperative research
and development partnership between the Microsoft Corporation
and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has resulted in the creation
of the Terraserver. The technology and infrastructure were created
by Microsoft and the data were provided by the USGS.
Just How Big?
On June 24, 1998, the USGS and Microsoft unveiled Terraserver
during Federal Enterprise Day in Washington, D.C. The name Terraserver
refers both to the content of the data and the size of the dataset;
"terra" is Greek for Earth and a terabyte is 1 followed by twelve
zeros or 1,000,000,000,000. The Terraserver site contains 3.9
terabytes of stored uncompressed images.
The Terraserver literally is a databank of aerial photographs
and satellite images. Image clarity and retrieval speed were goals
of the partnership. The USGS map data consists of Digital Orthophoto
Quadrangles (DOQ) of the U.S., which required modification to
ensure that the data could be retrieved quickly, easily, and clearly.
To prepare the DOQ for display on the Web site, a complicated
method of modification was necessary. The modification included
sectioning, resampling, and compressing the data. The USGS provided
technical assistance to Microsoft on how to process the geospatial
imagery and presentation.
First Step Toward a "Gateway to Earth"
The USGS currently has more than 60,000 digital aerial images
that cover approximately 30 percent of the conterminous United
States. "We are very excited about this project. This application
is the first in a series of steps which allows the USGS to create
a 'Gateway to the Earth.' Our science produces data and information
for processes occurring in, on, and around the Earth, and the
Internet is the ideal venue for us to deliver this information
to the citizens of this country," said USGS Associate Director
You Can Download Your Neighborhood's Image for Free
For Terraserver users, it is very easy to select an area by name,
or from an image of a large area and zoom in to identify their
neighborhood, favorite theme park, or ball field. In addition,
users can download the image they see on their screen to their
own computer for free. To purchase a full resolution digital file,
the user must link to a USGS site for ordering information.
The data from the Terraserver are useful for a variety of activities.
Terraserver will help commercial real estate developers to better
understand population densities around a possible project site;
environmental groups can gauge the impact of natural resource
planning; state agencies can monitor companies for pollution violations;
and, children can use the images to accompany school reports.
Terraserver has opened the door to unparalleled access to satellite
and aerial photography. Remember, the next time you want to view
your favorite places from high above, visit Terraserver
For More Information
Contact: Hedy Rossmeissl at (703)-648-5780 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Mapping Division
Reston, VA 20192
About the Author
Laura Branton is a Women's Executive Leadership detailee at the
United States Geological Survey. You may contact her at (703)648-4282