On the environment beat — as well as in almost every other kind of news or public information — "where" is one of the key "Ws" for establishing relevance. The National Map, a new federal interagency effort intended to improve and deliver topographic information from across the US, may end up yielding significant benefits to journalists and the communities they serve.
The US government's plan so far is to build the map to support many uses ranging from recreation to scientific analysis to emergency response. Available information types include orthoimagery (aerial photographs), elevation, geographic names, hydrography, boundaries, transportation, structures, and land cover. Several National Map products and services are already offered or planned.
Some viewers are already available. Play with them, see what's available for your region, and show the National Map project to technologists in your news organization or other local geeks. Environmental news possibilities include mashups, maps, mobile services, and more.