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US Congress: Maps and Data Portals

Did you know that the US Congress is increasing its use of web mapping tools in GIS?  In one of these map collections from the US Congress, you can discover organizations who host maps and data.  The themes of these maps include business locations, wildfires, hurricanes and current weather, public transportation, education, and many others.  For education, these maps could be useful for discussions in political science, geography, biology, business, and in other disciplines, as well as access to data for courses that use GIS.  To find out why the US Congress finds value in web mapping and GIS, read the excellent article that my colleague Lauren Lipovic recently wrote about how GIS is increasingly being used to inform and disseminate public policy.   Also, see the government policy page from Esri for more case studies, maps, and data.

The Mapping for Congress Featured Set contains some maps on the above themes; the most compelling one in my opinion is the set for Senator Risch from Idaho, on wildland fire potential, brownfields development success stories, and other themes of interest to citizens of that state and to those living elsewhere.  Another notable example from the Featured Set collection is this new map of Virginia state parks.

The Federal Agency Map Collection assembled by my colleague provides another excellent way of accessing more of these maps and data sets.  This collection includes the Mapping for Congress Expanded Gallery.  While some of the maps are applications that do not allow for streaming or downloading the data, GIS users with a bit of digging will find plenty of layers that they can use for analysis.  And equally importantly, these data sets represent a trend that we noted in our book–with increasing use of web mapping tools such as Esri story maps and the ability to assemble these map galleries, decision makers are increasing their use of GIS and spatial analysis in their decision making, which is good news for all of us.

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The Idaho Map Gallery.

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