I'm in the GIS breakout session. Kari J. Craun, who is Chief, Mid-Continent Mapping Center, US Geological Survey, and a cartographer by trade is speaking about a national map. The topological maps that we all know and love are apparently 25 years out of date. The USGS has a project to produce a "national map" that would be a seamless, continuously updated set of geospatial information built from orthorectified imagery, land cover, elevation, geographic names as well as vector layers for transportation, hydrography, structures, and boundaries.
One of the drivers is, not surprisingly, homeland security. Someone who trains on a map in one area (and remember this many not be a piece of paper) and then gets moved to another area to respond to an emergency ought to be able to pick up the map in that area and have it be the same in terms of meta data. I think homeland security will be the interstate highway system of the new century. Much will be done under the auspices of homeland security which will ultimately have many other benefits to citizens. You may not remember, but Eisenhower proposed the interstate highway system as a defense logistics system during the cold war. Clearly its use and benefits has far surpassed that initial goal.