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Locating Geospatial Data

A significant amount of geospatial data is generated by international, federal, state and local governments, and is available without cost. Major sources of free geospatial data include the U.S.G.S., the U.S. Census Bureau, and individual state governments.  Commercial providers also supply a wealth of geographic data. These pages are designed to help you locate the data you need to support your GIS project.

General strategies for sourcing geospatial data:

    1. Seek free, open source data before consulting commercial providers.
    2. Review UCM’s GIS Data on the Web page.
    3. Explore links provided on various UCM Resource pages.
    4. Search the open Internet for specific data sets.
    5. Consult the Geography Department, as they may have already acquired the data you seek.
    6. Consult other UCM users via the GIS User Group listserv.

Issues to consider when sourcing geospatial data:

  • What format is it in (e.g., .e00 interchange, geodatabase, shapefile, etc.)?
  • Is the data of an appropriate scale for your research needs (street, block, county, state, etc.)?
  • Is the data up to date?
  • What are the data’s map projection parameters? Will you need to reproject the data?
  • Are there copyright issues associated with the data?