January 28, 2008

TOPO! Explorer Web Site Coming Soon

This is exciting news! I recently learned that National Geographic is working on a new internet-based application, called TOPO! Explorer, that will allow you to browse detailed topographic maps, aerial photography, and a hybrid version of the two. The new site, which will be found at www.topo.com, is set to launch this May.

The site will also include a large trails database full of content from government agencies, National Geographic and their partner organizations, and outdoor enthusiasts. When they launch the new site, they expect to have nearly 10,000 unique files available to download. This is really exciting, because if you live in an area like I do (the greater San Francisco Bay Area), with hundreds and hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails available, then you’re no doubt frustrated by the variability and limited availability of good trail maps for the different park and open space areas, which all seem to be under the jurisdiction of a multitude of different agencies. It will be wonderful having essentially a one-stop shop for good, National Geographic-quality trail maps.

According to National Geographic, “TOPO! Explorer raises the bar to unparalleled levels with the creation of a platform that launches a national trails database that any trail, outing club, or enthusiast can give and get from. As a small example of the content to be had at launch, we’ve digitized every Trails Illustrated map in our collection and will provide the POI and resulting trails database as a free download.”

The site will also have available what National Geographic calls “SuperQuads”. Each SuperQuad is comprised of seven layers, including genuine USGS 1:24,000-, 1,100:000- and 1:250,000- scale topographic maps, i-cubed aerial photography, TeleAtlas roads, geographic names and elevation models, and their new HybridQuad that combines aerial photography and topographic line work. SuperQuads can be freely browsed on the Web and are available for purchase via download for $1.00 each.

In addition, the site will include the following features:

  • Ability to search for street addresses.
  • KML (Google Earth format) import, and full GPX support (import/export)
  • GPS Auto-Connect, which enables you to browse the contents of a GPS unit much like an iPod and then move just what you want to your library, versus having to import everything.

Sounds like this will be the iTunes of Topo maps. Can’t wait!


Eric Riback said...

Just to let you know that while the application will be ready and in stores May 30th, you can preview the web site in beta now at beta.topo.com. You can browse the topos and aerials and see the recreation content we're adding daily. Sign up for a free "Explorer" account.

GeoJoe said...

Thanks for the great tip, Eric!