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May 2006

An inventory and comparison of globally consistent geospatial databases and libraries

Environment and Natural Resources Working Paper Series Number 19

by Joseph F. Dooley, Jr.
Spatial Data Services & Mapping


This report presents an inventory of global data sources which can be used to provide consistent geospatial baselines for core framework data layers in the support of generalized base mapping, emergency preparedness and response, food security and poverty mapping. In the report, only globally consistent data sources at the scales of 1:5 million or larger for vector data and a nominal pixel size of 5 arc minutes or higher resolution for raster data, were considered.

The sources of data presented in the inventory were identified based on a review of on-line Internet resources conducted in the first quarter of 2004 and updated in January 2005.

The inventory is divided into two parts: with Part One of the inventory presenting overview, terminology and summary sections of globally consistent data libraries; while Part Two contains a categorization of the data sources identified broken into topical subsections based on the individual core data layers specified by UNGIWG and FAO. The report also includes a matrix rating the suitability of the various data sources identified to each of the core data layers specified by UGIWIG and FAO, and introduces Virtual Base Maps as a potential cost-effective means for: providing spatial referencing to remote field offices, enhancing Internet map serving capabilities, and facilitating mapping via GPS handheld devices.

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