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Proceedings of the Symposium on Global and Environmental Monitoring

Nancy Tosta
State of California
Teale Data Center
PO Box 13436
Sacramento, California 95813-4438
Several state agencies in California are currently using geographic information system (GIS) technology for a
diversity of applications such as toxics assessments, transportation, planning, farmland mapping, and natural
resource assessments. Many of the departments using the technology have acquired hardware and software,
and are now compiling data to meet specific needs of individual programs within the agencies. Several of these
efforts involve the development of large statewide data sets.
Over the last two years, various ad hoc committees have identified data sets that are generic in nature and
might be used by more than one agency. There are several examples of these, including roads, county
boundaries, census tracts, and hydrographic features. The physical size of California, as well as its
environmental diversity and population growth mean that any data set representing statewide spatial attributes
at a scale greater than or equal to about 1:100,000 tends to be at least a few hundred megabytes in size. An
example might be the TIGER files representing census spatial boundaries. These files for the state are
approximately one gigabyte in size. Significant time and expense can be incurred in developing, analyzing, and
maintaining these large files.
There are no executive orders of specific legislative mandates that require state agencies to cooperate with each
other in the use of GIS. In fact, in many instances a somewhat competitive relationship exists between
agencies. The challenge of creating integrated, common spatial data sets, the development cost and use of
which might be shared among state agencies, is institutional and political, rather than technical. Teale Data
Centre, one of the state’s mainframe data processing centers, has the technical ability to manage large datasets
and mechanisms in place to provide services to all state agencies. Teale, in conjunction with a few of the state
agencies currently exploring the use of GIS, has begun to develop a digital library of "generic" spatial data.
This paper will explore the arguments surrounding the data library approach to implementation of GIS and
will examine issues inherent in developing, maintaining, and accessing spatial data among state agencies in