A Multi-institutional Geoportal to Enhance Geospatial Data Discoverability and Increase Accessibility

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Geospatial data and methodologies are becoming increasingly popular in fields beyond Geography. The exponential increase in geospatial data sets available to users and varied platforms on which they are served can make data searches difficult and leave some data undiscovered, particularly for users with more limited knowledge of geospatial data sources. The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), which provides unique opportunities for and supports collaborative efforts among Big Ten member universities plus the University of Chicago, initiated the CIC Geospatial Data Discovery Project to enhance geospatial data discoverability and access among member institutions. Nine of the fifteen institutions have come together to develop and populate a geoportal for use by all member institutions. GeoBlacklight was identified as the best architecture option for the geoportal due to its open-source platform, strong development community and documentation, intuitive interface, and easy metadata integration. Institutions have developed workflows for identifying candidate geospatial datasets and harvesting and converting associated metadata records. Selected datasets include substantial state-specific geospatial data holdings along with georeferenced map collections. The collaborative nature of this project serves to reduce workload among individual institutions, simply workflow, encourage communication between institutions, and increase geospatial data collections for each institution.