In 2002 The New England Environmental Finance Center and Applied Geographics issued the Feasibility Study for a GIS Inventory of New England Conservation Lands 1 describing the conservation lands data status throughout EPA Region 1 (New England). This report identified stakeholders and technologies participating in the maintenance of conservation lands data within this region. In the four years since that initial report dramatic changes have occurred in the technical means by which geographic data are delivered from their respective repositories. These changes have been most pronounced and obvious in the area of web mapping services. Web mapping services are software utilities by which diverse and frequently unrelated geographic data sets are structured and symbolized for consumption by remote clients through the Internet. In a more general sense, these represent a kind of democratization of access to digitally mapped data, by providing tools and content (often free) from remote servers that can be consumed by an end user with only a web browser or a small software download (and with little or no technical expertise). This method of delivery is in striking contrast to the preceding era in GIS evolution where all data and tools were closely held and generally inaccessible by dint of their expense and technical complexity.
Sutton, Richard and Merrill, Sam, "Standardizing Geospatial Information for New England Conservation Lands: Data Capture Methods and Technology" (2006). GIS Applications. 3.