Please Note: the SCO Website will be unavailable Friday morning, September 29th while we bring an all-new site online!

About the SCO

The role of the office

The State Cartographer’s Office (SCO) is Wisconsin’s resource for information about maps, cartography, geographic information systems (GIS), land information systems (LIS), and geospatial technology. We support the state's geospatial community through presentations and educational workshops, technical consulting, print and digital publications, Web-based catalogs and data services, and information about events, jobs and emerging trends.

The SCO provides services to a diverse array of mapping and geospatial data producers and consumers in Wisconsin. This includes helping the general public find and understand map resources through our free online and phone services.


Science Hall on UW-Madison campus,

home of the SCO

The SCO also serves as a liaison between professionals in government, education, non-profits and the private sector, helping to expand the adoption and effective use of geospatial technology and methods in these sectors.

Coordination efforts

We maintain close ties to geospatial communities in other states and nationally to stay abreast of current trends and policies. We are a longstanding member of NSGIC (the National States Geographic Information Council) and support key NSGIC efforts such as statewide coordination, digital orthoimagery initiatives, and inventorying and cataloging of geospatial data layers.

We also collaborate on statewide initiatives with the Wisconsin Geographic Information Office , state agencies and statewide associations. The SCO is a longstanding member of WLIA (the Wisconsin Land Information Association) with staff serving as WLIA officers, board members and committee representatives.

The State Cartographer serves as an ex officio member of Wisconsin Land Information Council and the Wisconsin Geographic Names Council. We also help coordinate geospatial activities on the UW-Madison campus under the auspices of the Geospatial Alliance.

Website and publications

The SCO Web site provides information and tools for geospatial professionals and the general public. It is home to the Wisconsin Mapping Bulletin offering the latest news and information on geospatial jobs, events, policies, and trends.

Our website also features several online applications that provide access to metadata, geospatial datasets, and aerial imagery for Wisconsin. These applications include ControlFinder and PLSSFinder (geodetic control and Public Land Survey System data), APCatalog and WHAIFinder (current and historic air photos).

The SCO's educational mission is further enhanced through our publications, which include informational brochures, manuals, reports, and professional articles.

The "Wisconsin Idea"

As a unit within the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the SCO promotes the transfer of technologies and ideas developed by faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin system.

As such the office embodies the “Wisconsin Idea”, a principle embraced by the University of Wisconsin system that holds that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom, and that knowledge and expertise within the University should enhance the quality of life for all citizens of the state.

Committee on State Cartography

The Committee on State Cartography (CSC) is the SCO’s steering committee, providing advice and feedback on office initiatives. CSC members are drawn from the SCO’s broad user community, and are appointed to two-year terms by the Dean of the College of Letters & Science at UW-Madison. Traditionally, the CSC has been chaired by a faculty member in the Department of Geography at UW-Madison.

Projects and plans

In 2013 the SCO developed a new 2013-2016 Strategic Plan to update our 2010-2013 Strategic Plan. The plan reflects our desire to help foster the efficient creation and exchange of geospatial data and services to support innovation and equitable delivery of services to the citizens of Wisconsin.

More information about current projects can be found in the projects section of our website.

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