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NOAA Unveils Special Collection of Civil War Maps and Nautical Charts

Map of ChickamaugaIn honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in 2011, Commerce's Nationasl Oceanic and Atmospheric Administation (NOAA) has assembled a special historical collection of maps, charts, and documents prepared by the U.S. Coast Survey during the war years. The collection, “Charting a More Perfect Union,” contains over nearly 400 documents, available free from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey website.

“People are planning now for their visits to Civil War sites next year, and we want to give them an opportunity to visualize the terrain, ports, and coasts as they were from 1861 to 1865,” said Meredith Westington, NOAA’s chief geographer. “Most people wouldn’t think of turning to NOAA for historical Civil War documents, but the agency has an amazing legacy.”

Coast Survey’s collection includes 394 Civil War-era maps, including nautical charts used for naval campaigns, and maps of troop movements and battlefields. Rarely seen publications include Notes on the Coast, prepared by Coast Survey to help Union forces plan naval blockades against the Confederacy, and the annual report summaries by Superintendent Bache as he detailed the trials and tribulations of producing the maps and charts needed to meet growing military demands. | The Civil War special collection is accessible through a searchable database at www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/history/CivilWar. |  Read more 

Secretary Locke visits USPTO, thanks employees for their work supporting innovation and the economy

Secretary Locke, left, and USPTO Director Kappos, right, with PTO employee

Secretary Locke visited the Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Va., October 6 to congratulate USPTO Director David Kappos and the agency's staff on its accomplishments during the 2010 fiscal year, which ended September 30. 

Locke thanked employees for their efforts toward reducing the patent backlog and recognized the agency’s innovative approaches to help bring the USPTO into the 21st century to foster innovation, ingenuity and creativity.  Read more

Obama Administration Official Promotes U.S. Commercial Interests in Iraq

Under Secretary Sánchez (left) and U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey (right) with interpreterUnder Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez today emphasized President Obama’s commitment to promoting strong bilateral, economic, cultural, and educational ties with Iraq during his meeting with Iraq’s Minister of Trade Dr. Safa Al-Din Muhammad Al-Safi. Sánchez and Al-Safi discussed key policy changes that could improve the commercial climate and promote U.S. commercial interests in Iraq. Sánchez was joined in Iraq by representatives from 14 U.S. companies that traveled to Baghdad for the first U.S. trade mission to Iraq since the end of combat operations.

“The American and Iraqi private sectors are rich and diverse, brimming with knowledge and a strong work ethic,” Sánchez said. “The U.S. companies on this delegation will interact with the Iraqi public and private sectors, and walk away from this historic trade mission knowing what opportunities exist for them in Iraq.”

Iraq’s GDP has more than doubled since 2006, soaring from $57 billion to $112 billion in 2009. Iraq’s government has budgeted more than $80 billion for infrastructure development, focusing on a number of large projects relating to construction, highways, railways, telecommunications, and security and defense. This trade mission provides U.S. participants with first-hand market information and forms the basis for future economic cooperation.  Release  |  White House blog on trade mission  |  More on the Iraqi trade mission

Commerce Department Awards $9.1 Million to Enhance the Global Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers

Image of MEP logoCommerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced $9.1 million in cooperative agreements through its Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) for 22 projects designed to enhance the productivity, technological performance and global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.  

Granted through competitive processes to nonprofit organizations, the funding will help encourage the creation and adoption of improved technologies and provide resources to develop new products that respond to changing market needs.

"A vibrant manufacturing sector drives American innovation and is central to our economic growth and global competitiveness," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "With the right investments, we can continue to create highly valued manufacturing jobs building great products and sell them around the world."

The proposals selected represent a variety of compelling ideas for helping small and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers tackle a complex set of needs with cost-effective and innovative solutions.

For more details on the award recipients and the MEP program, visit http://www.nist.gov/mep/mep_100510.cfm.  Read more

Commerce Seeks Comment on Protecting Copyrighted Works on the Internet

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force today issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comment from all interested stakeholders on the protection of copyrighted works online and the relationship between copyright law and innovation in the Internet economy. 

Considering the vital importance of the Internet in today’s society, the Department of Commerce has made it a top priority to ensure that the Internet remains open for innovation.  The initiative on Copyright Policy, Creativity and Innovation in the Internet economy seeks to identify policies that will: 

  1. Generate benefits for rights holders of creative works accessible online and make recommendations with respect to those who infringe on those rights;
  2. Enable the robust and free flow of information to facilitate innovation and growth of the Internet economy; and
  3. Ensure transparency and due process in cooperative efforts to build confidence in the Internet as a means of distributing copyrighted works.

The comments gathered through this NOI will be used by the Internet Policy Task Force in preparing a report that will contribute to the administration’s domestic policy and international engagement in the area of online copyright protection.

Commerce Makes Comments Publicly Available on How Government Can Support the Advancement of Innovation and Technologies

Each year, the federal government makes substantial investments in research and development that takes place at our nation’s colleges and universities.  In 2008, federally funded university investments totaled over $31 billion.  Together with academia and the private sector, the Obama administration is working to support research and development and drive new innovations and technologies to market to create U.S. jobs and economic growth.

Recently, the Commerce Department hosted several University Innovation Forums in collaboration with university presidents addressing the roles of universities in innovation, economic development, job creation and the commercialization of federally funded research.  These forums built upon a national dialogue Secretary Locke began in February when he engaged university leaders and key stakeholders in a discussion about how the Obama administration can help move ideas from the lab to the marketplace. From these efforts, the Commerce Department is gathering input on best practices in university technology commercialization and making recommendations for federal government policy.

Commerce Department Releases Report On Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century

Six women working in various careers

Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) today released a report on Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century that analyzes the changing role of women-owned businesses in the U.S. economy.  The report, prepared at the request of the White House Council on Women and Girls and released today during a White House Entrepreneurship Conference, looks at trends in women-owned businesses from the late 1990s through 2007, explores the characteristics of businesses owned by women as compared to those owned by men, and discusses potential reasons why these firms look different.

“Here’s the good news: women-owned businesses are steadily expanding and now account for $1.2 trillion in economic output,” said Commerce Department Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank.  “Considering the recent economic environment, this growth shows the important potential of women-owned businesses for future economic growth.”

NOAA Provides Easy Access to Historical Atlantic Hurricane Tracks

Website provides storm paths by ZIP code; includes population trends, storm history

Graphic from NOAA's Historical Hurricane Tracks tool shows all hurricanes passing within 65 nautical miles of Cape Hatteras, N.C., since 1900.An updated NOAA website lets everyone from reporters to city planners track local historical storm activity, review specific storm tracks and obtain information about a particular storm’s landfall. NOAA’s Historical Hurricane Tracks website and mapping application generates customized, downloadable maps based on more than 150 years of Atlantic hurricane data.

The Historical Hurricane Tracks tool, developed by NOAA’s Coastal Services Center in partnership with the National Hurricane Center, allows users to search by U.S. ZIP code, state or county, storm name or year, or latitude and longitude points. With the search results, users can generate a map showing the storm track accompanied by a table of related information.  Read more  |  Larger graphic

NOAA-Sponsored Scientists First to Map Offshore San Andreas Fault and Associated Ecosystems

This mulitbeam sonar image shows the San Andreas Fault cutting through the head of Noyo CanyonFor the first time, scientists are using advanced technology and an innovative vessel to study, image, and map the unexplored offshore Northern San Andreas Fault from north of San Francisco to its termination at the junction of three tectonic plates off Mendocino, California.

The team includes scientists from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, Oregon State University, the California Seafloor Mapping Program, the U.S. Geological Survey and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The expedition which concludes Sunday is sponsored by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

While the fault on land is obscured by erosion, vegetation and urbanization in many places, scientists expect the subsea portion of the fault to include deep rifts and high walls, along with areas supporting animal life. The expedition team is using high-resolution sonar mapping, subsurface seismic data and imaging with digital cameras for the first-ever three-dimensional bathymetric-structural map that will model the undersea Northern San Andreas Fault and its structure. Little is known about the offshore fault due to perennial bad weather that has limited scientific investigations.

NIST Awards $50 Million in Grants for Construction of Science Facilities

Artist rendering of new science facilityThe U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today awarded a total of $50 million in grants to five institutions to support the construction of new scientific research facilities that will explore everything from nanometer-scale electronics and “green” buildings to microbe ecosystems in the oceans. The five projects receiving funding under the NIST Construction Grant Program (NCGP) will contribute to almost $133 million in new laboratory construction projects, according to grantees.

“Strengthening research and development in the United States is critical to our ability to create jobs and remain competitive,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “These construction grants will help the U.S. produce world-leading research in science and technology that will advance our economic growth and international competitiveness.”  Release  |  Read more on the Construction Program