geographic data (gazetteers)
tmoritz at CAS.CALACADEMY.ORG
Thu Aug 4 00:32:27 CDT 1994
The US Defense Mapping Agency gazetteers are a de facto "authority" for
international place names largely because there is no other inclusive source
available which offers map references and lat./long.
At the California Academy of Sciences, we did some experiments with scanning-
in the DMA gazetteers 3-4 years ago but found that OCR (optical character
recognition) technology that we could afford -- there are apparently
sophisticated, effective and expensive systems available -- was not practical
(error rate was too high) -- at that time I spoke with the person in
charge of the data and he told me that the old tapes were in a warehouse
"being rained on" (exact quote) somewhere in the DC area.
I am certain that the Pentagon has got to have that world-wide place name
data in machine readable form -- and serving the scientific community by
releasing it in a usable form would be a great "peace dividend" -- "peace
conversion" project. CD-ROM's would make a great format...
There is a natural community of users who could take advantage of such data
including systematists, conservationists, biogeographers, anthropologists,
historians, archaeologists, teachers, policy makers, etc.
A major initiative should be undertaken to promote the development and
distribution of these international place name data in conveniently usable
California Academy of Sciences
(from IUCN Library, Gland, Switzerland)
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