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Most efforts by the staff of the National Atlas of the United States are devoted to making geographic information easier to find, get, and use by American citizens. Yet we never ignore the needs of our government partners or our professional users. For once this home page is devoted to news for those who rely on our data, documentation, and services more than our Articles, Maps, or Map Maker.

New Web Map Services
We have just launched a new set of Web map services (WMS) for those who wish to use National Atlas map layers in their own applications without having to download the data. The new services adhere to the latest Open Geospatial Consortium’s Implementation Specification (version 1.3.0) though you can also specify earlier implementations. The default coordinate system for the WMS is EPSG:4326, so our map layers are easy to use within popular map viewers and in commercial and open source geographic information systems. In


Discontinuing SDTS and Raw Data Documentation Formats
The National Atlas has offered its vector datasets in two formats: Shapefile and the Topological Vector Profile of the Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS-TVP). Demand for National Atlas Raw Data in SDTS no longer justifies our continued support for this format and we intend to discontinue its use on January 1, 2012. Feel free to send us your comments before then. Our email address appears at the bottom of nearly all pages.

Similarly, we are considering dropping two formats for the Raw Data Documentation we offer on We currently supply this in two hypertext markup language (HTML) report formats, in text format, in extensible markup language (XML) format, and in data interchange format (DIF). The two most likely formats to be discontinued are HTML outline view and DIF. Again, your comments are encouraged.

National Atlas WMS in the National Map Viewer
The National Atlas Web Map Service displayed in The National Map Viewer

the coming year we intend to supplement these image services with feature and coverage services. There’s an introduction to the new services as well as a WMS technical support page for those who are ready to use the new WMS. The old services have been removed.

The National Map Launches Updated Viewer
One of the viewers you might want to use to display our WMS is the latest offering from The National Map. An improved version of the viewer was released in late September that includes better base maps, new functions, and expanded support for WMS, REST, and KML services. It's easy to add the richness of National Atlas data using our straightforward instructions for The National Map viewer and other popular on-line mapping sites.


To The Cloud
Since we began offering authoritative, integrated, and documented data in 1997, all National Atlas Raw Data files have been provided via file transfer protocol by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center. Service has been excellent and we are fortunate to have that center’s continued support across the National Geospatial Program. Starting some time in 2012, National Atlas Raw Data will be delivered from a public cloud implementation as part of an enterprise-wide move to offer staged products this way. This change shouldn’t be noticeable to the thousands of users who download our data each month.


November 2011