State Cartographer's Office - Major Projects

In addition to our day-to-day activities, the State Cartographer's Office works on larger-scale projects with time frames of several months or even years. These projects may include major updates to our website or mapping applications, funded research projects, large data development activities, and large-scale coordination initiatives. These projects are sometimes internal, but in other cases involve collaboration with outside partners. This page highlights these projects and identifies resources where additional information can be found.

archive3 Looking for more? Check out our archive of past SCO projects.

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(October, 2013 - October, 2014)

The SCO's online Catalog of Aerial Photography provides a comprehensive listing of aerial photography acquired by federal, state and local agencies and other groups, separated by county. This catalog is the most complete record of aerial photography in Wisconsin to date, containing information for over 3000 projects.  In Fall of 2013, the office began working on a complete update to the catalog including validation of existing records and a new, improved user interface.


(May 2012 - September 2014)

GeoData@Wisconsin is an implementation of the open source OpenGeoPortal software originally created by Tufts University.  It will replace WISCLINC though different in audience and functionality as data will currently be restricted to UW faculty, students and staff.  Additional efforts include an index of most commonly sought Wisconsin GIS data sources on our website as well as collaborative efforts with the Wisconsin GIO's office toward creating a Wisconsin Geoportal at the Department of Administration. 



The State Cartographer's Office has proposed developing a statewide cartographic database to support a variety of map services and products including rendered maps, rendered layers, map image tiles, Web services, and raw data layers. The project has linkages to other initiatives at the national and state level, including the National Map and the Esri Community Maps Program. This project is in the initial planning and requirements-gathering stage. 


(Expected completion winter 2014)

Wisconsin's current statewide PLSS layer, Landnet, is out of date and does not make use of more accurate local datasets. Improving this layer would provide needed statewide data as well as model a successful statewide data integration effort. The goal of the SCO PLSS project is to implement a pilot study of PLSS data integration for a subset of Wisconsin counties, and to identify and assess the barriers to a statewide effort.

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(August, 2013 - May, 2015)

The State Cartographer's Office and UW Cartography Lab are partnering on a project to create an online interactive map of international collaborative activities within the UW School of Education.  The resulting map may aid students and administrators alike in identifying new or relateed opportunities for study abroad or international collaboration.  The project is sponsored by the School of Education and the Division of International Studies.



One of our strategic priorities for 2013-2016 is to "continue to develop and promote the business case for an ongoing statewide aerial photography program." Toward this goal, in June 2014 the SCO published a discussion paper entitled "Wisconsin Aerial Imagery: A Blueprint for Moving the State Forward." The discussion paper is based on ongoing research and analysis of aerial imagery programs in Wisconsin. It is also based on a report developed for the state of Wisconsin in 2013 by GeoPlanning Services of Orlando, Florida under FGDC Cooperative Agreement #G11AC20047.

The goal of the discussion paper is to spur further discussion toward the ultimate goal of establishing a Wisconsin Aerial Imagery Program that meets the needs of the widest possible audience of users in Wisconsin.

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(May 1, 2014 - August 31, 2016)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are partnering on a project to map the current vegetation, water, and urban patterns (“land cover”) of Wisconsin.  The resulting digital database will replace a statewide land cover map created by DNR using 1991-1993 data.  Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act.



The State Cartographer's Office provides opportunities for students to participate in service-learning projects, to apply what students have learned in the classroom and enhance their university experience. These projects are often carried out in collaboration with other units at UW-Madison, other UW system campuses, and individuals in the community.



The SCO continues to spend a significant amount of effort on outreach, collaboration, and education of local units of government on the benefits of integrating their geodetic control and Public Land Survey System (PLSS) corner datasets into ControlFinder and PLSSFinder.

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(October 1, 2015 - December 31, 2016)

The Wisconsin Department of Administration and the State Cartographer's Office are working on a V2 Statewide Parcel Map Database Project. This project will update, improve, and streamline the maintenance of the state’s first publicly available statewide digital parcel map.

Tags: Projects


The SCO relies on Web technology to facilitate its community outreach mission of supplying geospatial information to professionals and the public. But how effective is our outreach strategy and who are we reaching? We recently focused some attention on this question.