Geographic Names
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Geographic Names In the United States. U.S. Board on Geographic Names & the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). Lou Yost U.S. Geological Survey & U.S. Board on Geographic Names Geospatial 2007 May 2007. U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey.

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U s department of the interior u s geological survey

Geographic Names

In the United States

U.S. Board on Geographic Names &

the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)

Lou Yost

U.S. Geological Survey & U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Geospatial 2007

May 2007

U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey


U s department of the interior u s geological survey

Names – A Key Component of Geographic Knowledge

Webster Groves, MO-IL 7.5-minute topographic map


Need for standardization in the late nineteenth century

Need For StandardizationIn The Late Nineteenth Century


U s department of the interior u s geological survey

Numerous scientific and exploration expeditions conducted by the Federal government


Many agencies were making maps and charts of the same area

Many agencies were making maps and charts of the same area


Resulted in confusion lack of communication and conflicting maps documents

Resulted in confusion, lack of communication, and conflicting maps & documents


The solution u s board on geographic names

The Solution – U.S. Board on Geographic Names

  • Provides for uniformity in geographic nomenclature and orthographythroughout the Federal government

  • Formulates principles, policies, and proceduresfor domestic and foreign geographic names

  • Promulgates in the name of the Board:

    • Decisions with respect to geographic names and locations

    • Principles of geographic nomenclature and orthography


U s board on geographic names

U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Policies

  • Commemorative Names

  • Wilderness Areas

  • Derogatory Names

  • Genitive Case


U s board on geographic names1

U.S. Board on Geographic Names

  • No Federal Agency May CHANGE or ADD Unilaterally Any Name on Any Product For Any Reason Without BGN Approval – by Policy or Procedure

  • An Agency May Choose to Leave the Name Off a Map or Out of a Publication


Standardization not regulation

Standardization not Regulation

Why Standardize Feature Names and Locations?

  • Homeland Security/Homeland Defense

  • Civil Support

  • Emergency Preparedness & Response

  • Regional & Local Planning

  • Site Selection & Analysis

  • Cartographic Application

  • Environmental Problem-solving

  • Tourism

  • All Levels of Communication

The implications of incorrect, inaccurate, or contradictory feature data appearing simultaneously from multiple sources are, if anything, more serious today.


Usbgn gnis

USBGNGNIS

  • In 1987, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names Designated the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) as the Only Official Vehicle For Geographic Names Use By the Federal Government

  • Therefore, Federal Law Prescribes That GNIS Be Used As the Only Source for Applying Geographic Names to Federal Maps & Other Products


Geographic names information system

Geographic Names Information System

  • Official Federal source for feature names and locations

  • Base theme of The National Map

  • Authoritative A16 database for geographic names

  • Conforms to Board principles, policies, guidelines

  • 30 Years of Data from authoritative sources

  • Stable, mature geographic information system

  • Full national coverage, consistent, seamless

  • Quality assured, prevents duplication

  • Open, interoperable, available, web services

  • Functioning partner base – Federal, State, Local, Tribal

  • Large user community of long standing


Two million and growing fast

Two Million – And Growing Fast

  • 502,000 hydrographic features – Synchronized with NHD

  • 395,000 cultural features –

    • Cemetery, Dam, Locale, Mine, Military (historical), Oilfield, Tower, Trail, Well

  • 376,000 structural features

    • Airport, Building, Church, Hospital, School, Post Office

  • 257,000 landforms – In no other layer of The National Map

  • 170,000 populated places

  • 100,000 admin features

    • Civil, Forest, Park, Reserve

  • 97,000 historical features – In no other layer

  • 14,000 transportation point features

    • Bridge, Crossing, Tunnel

  • (14,000 Antarctica features)

    Thousands added per month. If its not in GNIS, it should be.


Gnis phase i ia

GNIS Phase I & IA

  • Named features on the most current, large scale Federal maps and charts

    • USGS topographic maps

    • Forest Service base maps & visitor maps

    • National Ocean Service charts

    • National Park Service maps


Gnis phase ii

GNIS Phase II

  • Available information from official State and local sources, other approved sources, and historical maps and documents

  • Includes ALL content categories except roads and highways


Electronic maintenance program

Electronic Maintenance Program

Since 1987

  • U.S. Board on Geographic Names

  • U.S. Geological Survey

  • U.S. Forest Service (1997)

  • Office of Coast Survey (1997)

  • National Hydrography Data Set (NHD) Partners

    • Synchronized 1997

  • National Park Service (1999)

  • Bureau of Land Management (2005)

  • Fish & Wildlife Service (soon)

  • General Services Agency (MOU in for signature)


Feature class defined functionally

Feature Class – Defined Functionally

No Official Feature Classification Schemas


Compilation methodology

Compilation Methodology

  • Three types of data at the base map scale (1:24,000)


Compilation methodology1

Compilation Methodology

  • Point – almost always in one county (could be in two if on the boundary of two counties) and on one topographic map

    • Record only a set of primary coordinates

    • Examples – small reservoir (tank), falls, rapids, channel, spring, canal, or dam


Compilation methodology2

Compilation Methodology

  • Linear – may be in one or more counties and on one or more topographic maps Examples – stream, valley, arroyo

    • Record a set of primary coordinates for the mouth of the feature, which is where it enters another body of water or opens into another feature

    • Record secondary sets of coordinates for each occurrence of the feature on a different topo map in order upstream


Compilation methodology3

Compilation Methodology

  • Linear (continued)

    • Record a set of coordinates for the source in a separate field (HEADS)

    • IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE COMPILER TO DETERMINE THE ABSOLUTE SOURCE -at the beginning of the longest, straightest drain


Compilation methodology4

Compilation Methodology

  • Area – may be in one or more counties and on one or more topographic maps

    • Record a set of primary coordinates at the approximate center of the feature – it is the responsibility of the compiler to determine the approximate center

    • Examples - lake, bay, swamp, harbor,


Compilation methodology5

Compilation Methodology

  • Area (continued)

    • Exception to recording the primary coordinates at the center of an areal feature is:

      • Reservoir – record the primary coordinates at the dam


Compilation methodology6

Compilation Methodology

  • Area (continued)

    • Record one set of secondary coordinates for each occurrence on a different topographic map

    • IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE COMPILER TO DETERMINE THE EXTENT OF THE FEATURE


Feature points

Feature Points

1 = Primary Point> 1 = Secondary PointsOne per quad

7.5°

7

PointAt 24/25k

6

7.5°

1

(85% Features)

Source

5

8

7

6

4

3

2

1

2

Linear

Areal

5

1

3

4

Mouth

Approximate center


Accessing feature data

Accessing Feature Data

  • Feature data available through GNIS:

    • Public web query site (http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/)

    • File Download Services(http://geonames.usgs.gov/domestic/download_data.htm)

    • Web map, feature and XML services

    • Customized files on request

    • Collaborative efforts on common application interfaces

    • Other mechanisms in the future

The Geographic Names Information System contains other non-standard attributes—feature classification, secondary points, feature State(s) and county(ies), history, description, designations


Geographic names information system1

Geographic Names Information System

MAINTENANCE WEBSITE

http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/htmldb/f?p=gnis

Add

Edit


Geographic names information system2

Geographic Names Information System

MAINTENANCE WEBSITE

For Access Contact Joan Helmrich

703-648-4622

[email protected]


The end

The End

Thank you for your attendance.

Questions?


Contacts

Contacts

Lou Yost

  • (703) 648-4552

  • [email protected]

  • Joan Helmrich

    • (703) 648-4622

    • [email protected]

    • Jennifer Runyon

      • (703) 648-4550

      • [email protected]

    • Dwight Hughes

      • (703) 648-5793

      • [email protected]


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