High Priced DRG Maps

As I wrote in my entry last month on the GPS Mapping Software, “USGS topo image data is public domain, but it’s near impossible to get without paying someone a hefty fee.” It’s sort of ironic that one Google Adsense ad with that blog entry is “USGS Topo Maps - entire USA only $5500”.

I realize the Digital Raster Graphic (DRG) topo maps are large data files, and someone’s got to pay for the bandwidth to transfer them, but I think they’re overpriced.

The GIS Data Depot used to let you download DRGs, but now they charge $0.58/MB to write a file to a CD (plus $10 to burn it plus shipping) or $0.16/MB to download them. One of the sites I run uses Rackspace, and they charge $3.00/GB when we go over our monthly bandwidth limit. That’s $0.003/MB. Do you think GIS Data Depot is making enough of a profit? Sure, there’s more to running a site than paying for bandwidth, and people have to eat, but that data still seems too expensive to me.

You can still get DRGs for free out there, but the availability and selection are spotty. This Army site has a good index of states where you can get DRG and other GIS data, but not every state is available, and each state has their own formats and rules.

Lately I’ve been getting my data from the South Carolina DNR’s GIS site, but they make you publish a disclaimer when you use the data. They probably never even edited the DRG files.

I was thinking that if I had a broadband connection to the net, I’d try to set up a BitTorrent site or some P2P of the public domain DRGs that I have. I could set up and index site with the file names and their MD5 hashes, and maybe these files would be easier and less expensive to obtain.

All I want to do is create the occasional topo map with my trip annotated on it, and publish it on my website, free of restrictions. It shouldn’t cost a fortune to do it.