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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Agroecosystem Management Research » Research » Research Project #445256

Research Project: Geospatial Cooperation to Strengthen Technical Professional Development and Diversify Software Portfolio

Location: Agroecosystem Management Research

Project Number: 3042-21660-001-009-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

USDA REE and most USDA agencies rely on advanced analytical applications including access to geographic information systems (GIS) software. This initiative includes a two-pronged approach to diversify the USDA's GIS portfolio and to provide specialized professional development training for USDA's GIS users. Portfolio diversification is required due to the rapid increase of costs associated with GIS software. Developing a portfolio that best aligns research and operational user personas with best-in-breed technological solutions will also reduce long term costs. At the same time, specialized training is required due to the rapid advancement of technological development. This requires that USDA analysts and practitioners be empowered to maximize the value of high-cost acquisitions. The establishment of advanced geospatial analytical applications training as part of the department-wide training offerings is a key component of this initiative. Leveraging existing acquisitions including empowering USDA cadres with GeoAI skillsets will be a key focus for professional development.

The first approach is aimed at diversifying USDA's GIS portfolio by assessing the geospatial use cases, develop personas, assess data workflows, and conduct an analysis of alternatives for lower cost software alternatives. This assessment will inform how USDA can expand access to commercial and open-source geospatial software to strengthen USDA posture and address current vendor lock-in. The second approach is aimed at developing a training strategy that covers onboarding-to-deployment of GIS tools such as GeoAI using mission-centered cases and examples. This training will expand access to technical software already acquired by USDA by providing professional development opportunities to USDA cadres.