The West Virginia Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technical Center at West Virginia University is adding some direction to The National Map .

The National Map is an online, interactive map of the United States created by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2001.

Hailed by the Survey asthe nations topographic map for the 21 st century,the Map will eventually provide detailed information from every corner of the U.S.from the Grand Canyon to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and all geographic points in-between.

The WVU -based GIS Center has received $36,000 in assistance funding from the Survey to complete West Virginias contribution to the Map , through the use of specially enhanced computer-generated images made from aerial photographs.

One of the Maps main goals is to provide high-quality, geospatial data for urban planners and the public to see in advance how large-scale infrastructure projects like new highways might be affected by terrainor whether or not a new shopping center is going up in a flood plain.

That means detailing everything from elevation to land cover, buildings and boundaries.

The state GIS funding comes in part from the National Spatial Data Infrastructure 2004 Cooperative Agreements Programa collection of government agencies and private companies working together to collect the digital data that will comprise the Map .

Kurt Donaldson, a WVU geographic information systems specialist, is project manager of the state GIS Center and is overseeing the Survey funding and the West Virginia leg of mapping project.

The center is housed in the Department of Geology and Geography in WVU s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Gregory Elmes and Dr. Trevor Harris are co-directors of the center. Both are WVU geography professors.

The state GIS Technical Center was dedicated in 1998 with the mission of providing technical support in the development and use of geographic information systems in the Mountain State.

Its tasks include assisting with strategic planning and development, implementing state mapping guidelines, and providing advisory services and training programs in the field of geographic science.

The center also conducts research and offers education programs to improve geographic information technologies across the state.