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Find Geospatial Data

What is geospatial data?

  • Geospatial data, spatial data or geodata contain geographic positioning information.
  • Examples of this type of data include: road networks from a GIS, or a geo-referenced satellite image.
  • Geospatial data may include attribute data that describes the features found in the dataset.
  • There are two types of geospatial data - vector and raster.
    • Vector data: utilizes geometric objects, lines and areas to represent spatial features.
    • Raster data: utilizes a grid to represent geographic information. Examples include: satellite imagery, digital elevation models, digital orthophotos (aerial), and scanned maps.

How do I find geospatial data?

  • Geospatial data is extremely narrow in scope and subject specific.
  • To start, consider what kind of organization collects the data you are looking for.
  • Search the organization’s website with a phrase like “data download” if you can’t find an obvious link to data on the homepage.
  • Search a portal. Portals strive to be one-stop-shops for specialized data.
  • Use Google to search for datasets by typing appropriate keywords along with GIS, data download, shapefile, .shp, and/or another word that describes your desired data format (like KML).

Why do I need geospatial data?

  • Geospatial data is used to create maps. 
  • By visualizing information on a map you can see patterns in the data that are not easily detectable in tabular format. 

Find Geospatial Data

Resources to Help with Data Research

Guide: Find data and StatisticsGuide: Choose the Best InfoVideo: Thinking Critically About Data

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