The History of USGIN
Throughout the 20th century, state, federal and private institutions across the United States accumulated large amounts of data describing geophysical resources such as ore deposits, fossil fuels, and sources of geothermal energy. If publicly available, these data resources can play a vital role in the search for new geophysical resources.
Digitizing and publishing data resources on a large scale poses a series of technical problems; the United States Geoscience Information Network (USGIN) is one attempt to overcome these challenges. USGIN is a product of the National Science Foundation’s INTEROP Initiative (award number EAR-0753154) and the result of a partnership between the Association of American State Geologists (AASG) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
How USGIN Works
Typically, data published on the Internet is uploaded to a central location, referred to here as an online repository. The practice of publishing large quantities of data via online repositories has a number of drawbacks. Online repositories require centralized infrastructure that must be built, configured, maintained, and expanded to accommodate demand; an online repository large enough to accommodate nationwide geoscience data would require considerable infrastructure, the cost of which could be prohibitive for a single agency. Furthermore, access and submission of data to online repositories is controlled, limiting the extent to which contributors can update and control their data
Instead of providing users with an online repository, USGIN proposes specifications that can be used to construct decentralized web-based data-sharing networks using free-and-open-source software. These networks facilitate the large-scale exchange of information. USGIN data-sharing networks, such as the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS), can be accessed by anyone, using little more than a web browser. Data submitted to these networks is controlled exclusively by the user providing the data. Moreover, the upkeep costs of USGIN data-sharing networks are distributed, making large-scale data-sharing practical and sustainable.
To learn more about the goals of USGIN, see the USGIN Objectives page. For more information about USGIN usage, see Using USGIN. For further information, see the USGIN Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). More information about USGIN specifications can be found on the USGIN Community Specifications page.