AmericaView is the outgrowth of a research and education pilot project initiated in 1998 by the USGS in Ohio. The OhioView pilot was begun cooperatively by the USGS and a group of Ohio universities primarily to overcome historical cost and data-access problems faced by those with a desire to use Landsat and related satellite-based remote sensing technology. The objective of the OhioView pilot was to create a prototype system for rapid delivery of moderate resolution Landsat data to state and local users, and to support the use of the data and derived products in a range of civilian, non-profit research and educational applications.
The OhioView partners, working closely with the USGS EROS Data Center, successfully established an infrastructure to support routine acquisition, processing, and delivery of Landsat and other remotely sensed data to Ohio. In 2000, impressed with the success of OhioView, Congress instructed the USGS to begin expanding and implementing the vision nationwide, and AmericaView was born. Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2003, 39 'StateViews' currently participate in the AmericaView network.
The need for AmericaView has been building for more than 30 years. Since the early 1970s, the federal government and private sector have spent billions of dollars on satellite-based earth observing systems and have worked with the research community to identify, develop, and distribute real-world applications for mapping, monitoring, and managing natural and environmental resources.
Unfortunately, while the potential uses of the technology have been widely recognized, development and distribution of real-world applications have persistently been tough issues for both the federal government and the academic research community.
Satellite data is expensive, and using the data requires significant investments in software, hardware, and training. It has often been hard for university researchers to use or even access the data, particularly at smaller schools or research facilities. For three decades this has hindered applied research and made it difficult to train the workforce, both current and future.
This has also meant that many state and local agencies that work with applied research programs have not been able to effectively integrate remote sensing technology into their management or decision-support programs.
The AmericaView Consortium is charged with helping each state overcome these difficulties and helps the university, secondary-education, and public sectors in each state identify, develop, and distribute the kinds of applications each state needs most.
In light of our nation's current focus on achieving a secure and stable digital infrastructure, never has this task been more relevant.