For the past three years or so, the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo) has had in place a system that allows users to locate and download 10,000 meter square area PDF maps (10KM - roughly 6.2 miles square) for anywhere in Minnesota - for free. Developed using Federal and State cartographic standards for the U.S. National Grid (USNG), the maps were specifically designed to support the Emergency Services Sector (ESS) by making interlocking, cross-jurisdictional, state-wide map coverage available on a 24/7 basis. As such, in addition to these maps using the latest state-wide aerial imagery from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Imaging Program (NAIP) as the base layer, the maps show the "state-endorsed" locations of fire stations, police stations, schools, and hospitals. And, under a recent U.S. Geological Survey grant to MnGeo, a second generation of these maps will soon provide updated structure location information for the original four structure layers, plus add locations of "group homes" and State of Minnesota public buildings. Initial funding to create the "state-endorsed" data layers, USNG maps, and distribution system was provided by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) under a 2008 Cooperative Agreements Program grant managed by MnGeo and its Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC). To give the system a spin, click the link below (the site also has a nice brochure about USNG available for download):
Comment: The staff at MnGeo has done a superb job putting this system in place and then improving it over time. With nothing more than Internet access a user can visually search for an area where he/she needs a map, and then by putting the mouse cursor over that spot and left clicking a second window will open that displays the map's name and allows download. Done! Max kudos to the MnGeo staff for developing this approach that makes these overview response maps easily available for the entire state, whenever they are needed!
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