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From Sophia Liu:

For further details, contact Sophia B Liu at

Date & Time: Thursday, July 7, 2016 at 1:00 - 5:00 pm EDT

Location: USGS The National Center, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will be hosting its 1st USGS Mapathon (#USGSMapathon) in conjunction with the 2016 White House Mapathon at the USGS National Center in Reston, VA. This White House Mapathon Satellite Event is a call to all citizen, government, and industry mappers, cartographers, geonerds, data scientists, students, and interns to celebrate and actively participate in USGS open mapping projects. Help USGS map structures through The National Map Corps. Create geospatial visualizations of Critical Minerals. Check out demos of USGS geospatial datasets, like the National Geologic Map Database, Landsat, and 3D Elevation. Share your ideas on what kind of mapping applications you can create using these USGS datasets. We will provide WIFI, all you need to bring is a LAPTOP!

To RSVP for the USGS Mapathon event in Reston, VA and receive more details, please send an email to Sophia B Liu ( 

This website will be updated with more details on the USGS Mapathon: 

Use #USGSMapathon and #WHMapathon to spread the word and share your open mapping experience using USGS data!

Parking, Transportation, and Security

Parking: Free Visitor Parking at the USGS National Center, go to the Guard Station to get access to the Visitor Parking Lot E

Metro/Bus: Take 951 Sunrise Valley Bus from Silver Line Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station to USGS

Security: Follow signs from the Visitors Parking. All visitors must enter at the Visitors Entrance and pass through a security screening process. All packages, briefcases, handbags, etc. will be scanned. Visitors must sign in and present a picture identification, such as a State driver’s license. The guard will then issue a visitor’s badge that must be worn at all times. Visitors bringing laptop computers into the building are required to write the word “laptop” and the serial number on the sign-in beneath their printed name.


USGS Mapathon Agenda

12:00 - 1:00  Enjoy lunch at the USGS Cafeteria

1:00 - 2:00

  • Welcome Remarks - Sophia B Liu

  • Keynote - Tim Quinn and Sheldon

  • Open Mapping Applications and TopoView - Chris Garrity

  • Lightning Talks on USGS Mapping Demos

    • National Geologic Map Database (NGMDB) - Dave Soller

    • USGS National Map: 3D Elevation, Hydrography and Topo Open Data - Rob Dollison

    • Land Change Science Program Mapping Projects - Jonathan Smith

    • Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON) - Stinger Guala

  • Lightning Talks on Open Mapping Projects

    • The National Map Corps - Elizabeth McCartney

    • Mapping Critical Minerals - Sophia B Liu

  • Closing Remarks - Sophia B Liu

2:00 - 3:00  Open Mapping in Cafeteria

3:00 - 3:30  Virtual Wave to White House Mapathon via Video Chat

3:30 - 4:30  More Open Mapping in Cafeteria

4:30 - 5:00  Project Recaps and Closing Remarks

5:00 - 7:00  Mappy Hour in Reston Town Center

Keynote - Tim Quinn (USGS Chief Information Officer)

Tim Quinn is the Associate Chief Information Officer at the USGS and leads the bureau in finding solutions for and managing optimal use of the USGS’s information management and technology. Most recently, Tim was Deputy Director for IT Shared Services within the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) at the Department of the Interior. There, he was responsible for service desk, telecommunications, hosting and end user services. Previously, he worked in a variety of positions with the USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, D.C., California, Oregon, and Washington. Duties included database development, operations research modeling, programming, providing communications support for wildland-firefighting, service desk, records/FOIA management, and telecommunications. He also worked as the GIS Administrator for the Regional Ecosystem Office coordinating interagency information management activities for the President's Northwest Forest Plan. Prior to Federal service, he was an associate in a forestry consulting firm providing a variety of forest inventory, marketing, reforestation, and timber harvesting services to private landowners, industry, and tribal governments. Tim holds a Bachelor's of Science degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in Forest Management with experience in forest genetics research and a Master's of Science in Management Information Systems from California State University, Sacramento. 

USGS Open Mapping Projects

The National Map Corps - Elizabeth McCartney

The National Map Corps (TNMCorps) is asks volunteers to update structures data for The National Map and US Topo Maps. Using an online map editor, TNMCorps volunteers are asked to improve 10 different structure types including hospitals, cemeteries, post offices, schools, and police and fire stations. All you need is an email address to register. More instructions can be found in this Quick Start Guide.

Elizabeth McCartney began her federal career with the USGS as a technical point of contact for the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) where she provided technical support and training to seven states in the creation and management of the NHD products. In March 2013, Elizabeth became the Team Lead for the USGS Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) project known as The National Map Corps, which supports The National Map and US Topo maps. Her job combines GIS and mapping technology with customer interaction and support, which Elizabeth enjoys tremendously. Ms. McCartney graduated from Jacksonville State University (AL) with a dual undergraduate degree in Biology and Geography in 1996, and a Master's degree in Biology in 1998.

Mapping Critical Minerals - Sophia B Liu

The USGS National Minerals Information Center publishes World Production Tables annually for more than 85 mineral commodities. Some of these USGS Historical Global Statistics are contained in Excel files on the USGS website. Help us visualize these rich spatial and temporal datasets. Create a mapping application that visualizes these statistical datasets on an interactive global map using a color intensity scale that is proportional to the production volume for each country.

Dr. Sophia B Liu is the first interdisciplinary Innovation Specialist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the Science and Decisions Center focusing on participatory science and innovation. She is the Co-Chair of the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science (CCS), as well as the CCS Agency Coordinator for the USGS and the Department of Interior. She has worked at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado, the St. Petersburg Coastal Marine Science Center in Florida, and the Energy, Minerals, and Environmental Health programs at the National Center in Virginia as a USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow between 2011 to 2015. Dr. Liu was also awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship in 2006. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Colorado at Boulder in an interdisciplinary program called Technology, Media, and Society researching the use of social media during disasters. She also received a B.A. at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom in Social Science specializing in Research and Analytical Methods with two minors in Information and Computer Science and in Digital Arts.

TopoView: Open Mapping Applications

Built on an open-source mapping platform, TopoView is an experimental interface that lets users quickly discover and interact with the historical topographic mapping collection. Interface builds are driven by user feedback and collaboration with a community of users. The goal of the project is to leverage contemporary open source mapping libraries and promote module re-use in other mapping applications within (and outside) the agency. 

Chris Garrity serves as a Geographic Information Science lead on a variety of projects throughout the USGS. He works in the Energy & Minerals mission area and provides leadership and strategic direction for a broad set of geospatial related initiatives across mission areas. He has a background in GIS, cartographic design, development, remote sensing, and geospatial data analysis. He served as the development lead for the TopoView project.


USGS Mapping Demos

Land Change Science Program Mapping Projects - Jonathan Smith

The Land Change Science Program of the USGS manages a number of geospatial datasets characterizing environmental conditions of the US and the world. These datasets are created from remotely sensed imagery and are freely available via the internet. They enable researchers to assess environmental conditions, monitor climate change and conduct natural resource assessments.

Jonathan H. Smith is the Program Coordinator of the Land Change Science Program in the Climate and Land Use Change of the USGS. He manages a scientific research program focusing on the causes of landscape change, including climate change, and its impacts on both natural and human processes. Before working for the USGS, he was employed by the Environmental Protection Agency at the National Center for Environmental Research in Washington DC and the Office of Research and Development’s Landscape Characterization Branch in Research Triangle Park, NC. While with the EPA, he conducted research analyzing the causes of water quality impairments and the accuracy of land cover classifications. Prior to working for the EPA, he was on the geography faculty of the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and was an officer in the US Navy. He obtained a B.S. degree in biology from Brooklyn College, a M.S. in resource management from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse NY and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Georgia.

National Geologic Map Database - Dave Soller

The National Geologic Map Database (NGMDB) is a Congressionally mandated, collaborative effort between the USGS and the State Geological Surveys, to build and maintain a National Archive of geoscience maps and reports, according to an evolving set of technical standards, that can be used by the public for decision making, research, and other applications. NGMDB consists of high-quality geologic content and mapping tools. Components of the NGMDB include: (1) a Catalog of geoscience maps and reports, containing citations and Web links to ~100,000 maps and reports by ~630 publishers, (2) the U.S. Geologic Names Lexicon (Geolex), which is the standard lexicon of geologic names of the U.S., (3) an evolving set of standards developed jointly by the USGS and States, and (4) interactive map viewers for both geologic and topographic maps.

David R. Soller, Ph.D. is a Research Geologist, and has been project chief of the National Geologic Map Database since its inception in 1995. Previously, his work was principally in geologic mapping, three-dimensional compilation of geologic framework for applications to societal issues, and analytical uses of GIS. Before joining the USGS, Dave work in the oil and gas industry, and in geologic and geophysical consulting.

USGS National Map: 3D Elevation, Hydrography and Topo Open Data - Rob Dollison

The USGS National Map ( includes a variety of open geospatial data products, map services and APIs that provide the Nation with access to base geospatial information to describe the landscape of the United States and its territories. New high resolution data from the 3D Elevation Program, such as Lidar Point Cloud, Ifsar in Alaska, as well as National Hydrography Data (NHD+) data are available to modernize and enhance your projects.

Rob Dollison is the The National Map (TNM) Delivery Services Lead in Reston Virginia for the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Geospatial Program Office (NGP). In this position he has been responsible for overseeing the evolution of the enterprise-level product and data delivery systems, and web visualization, for The National Map to meet the needs of a wide base of customers ranging from scientists, GIS analysts, responders and the public. Prior to this Mr. Dollison managed the Geospatial One-Stop EGov Initiative, it’s migration into, and worked to advance the NGP’s and Federal Geographic Data Committee’s ongoing efforts in pursuing the vision to build an effective and efficient National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).

Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON) - Gerald "Stinger" Guala

Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON) is the national integrated resource for discovery, linkage, and reuse of species occurrence data with more than 261 million records for nearly every species of plant and animal in the U.S. Many of these records exists because of crowdsourcing and citizen science efforts like eBird. BISON provides a Web GUI and Application Programming Interface (Web Services) for online mapping, searching, subsetting, visualizing and downloading of species occurrence data. The GUI also provides the ability to get maps and checklists for virtually every species and area in the United States and visually compare documented species distributions with critical environmental variables. Numerous libraries (R-BISON) and plugins (the BISON Lifemapper QGIS plugin) have been developed for sophisticated biodiversity analyses.

Gerald "Stinger" Guala is the Branch Chief for Eco-Science Synthesis in the Core Science Systems Mission Area of the United States Geological Survey. His duties include directing the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) and Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON) as well as facilitating other activities at the national level to deliver, integrate, analyze and visualize Federal and non-Federal biodiversity information.  

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