Geo Data Articles

Data about Australia

One of our participants from Australia has kindly sent us information about a number of resources available for mapping there. If you know of some good publicly available (or very good paid content), please feel free to Contribute a short article using the Contribute button at the top of the page and we'll approve it into the system. Without further ado... In no particular order: Western Australia Land Information Authority Australian Government Geoscience Australia MapConnect (250K Topographic Data for download) AU Government | Bioregions Data Queensland Government Information Service Geosciences Australia IBRA (Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia) Department of Environment and …

Free data available from Natural Earth

Many of us spend a lot of time looking for data to use for maps and I wanted to mention Natural Earth, a site whose tag line "Free vector and raster map data at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110m scales" pretty much says it all. There's a lot of stuff here, and it's good for many purposes, and it's truly free, as in Public Domain. The data can be dragged and dropped directly into Cartographica for use in your own projects, without any licensing issues, which is fantastic.Further, there are both raster and vector data sets, so …

PakResponse posts Pakistan data

For those interested in looking at information related to the floods in Pakistan or those who are helping the relief effort, PakResponse has posted some base maps, symbol sets and flood map information. Of particular interest to Cartographica users are the OHCR symbol sets that can be used with Cartographica's new Symbol features. The map sets that are available include administrative maps, hydrology, and information about affected areas from the floods. If you are building a map and want to use the symbols, the OCHA symbol sets can be downloaded and contain a folder named "OHCA_Symbols" which has 2 sub-folders …

Haiti earthquake imagery now available

Google announced in a blog posting last night that they have a new imagery of Haiti taken within the last 24 hours by GeoEye showing some of the extensive damage that country has seen after the massive earthquake there on Tuesday. Relief efforts underway by the Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, and Habitat for Humanity (among many others, I'm certain).

Mapping U.S. Naval Bases and Ports

Recently a friend of mine received information in the mail about becoming a Naval Officer. In the packet of information was a brochure that included information about locations of U.S. Naval bases and ports throughout the world. The location information was simply a list of cities around the world where the bases and ports are located. I thought it would be both interesting and informative to talk about how to turn a list of cities into a map. The process for creating the map is pretty simple, and can be completed in just a few easy steps. The first …

Good Places to Find GIS Data!

Last week's House hearing on the state of Federal geospatial data management encouraged me to search out good places for both free and inexpensive GIS data. Basically, I wanted to create a brief overview about good places to find GIS data. I will mostly likely post several blog postings on this issue as I discover new places to find data. With the growing number of users learning to use GIS in both their professional and private lives, the need for an organized data management system is apparent. Unfortunately, there is currently not a one-stop-shop for GIS data, and as more …

Mapping Tornados with Cartographica

I was attempting to find some Climate Change data when I came across ,which is a really excellent website for free GIS data. When I was attempting to find climate data I came across some very interesting data regarding tornados in the United States. The data included an entire log of tornados from 1950 through 2006 which includes nearly 50,000 data entries. The tornado data includes a lot of information about each event including the strength of the tornado on the F-Scale, the number of injuries and deaths, how far the tornado went, how wide the path …

Home town makes good (data)

Some of you may already know that ClueTrust (the folks who run this site) has been located in the National Capital Area since 1989 (over 30 years now), and during that time, DC has gone through a lot of changes. The District's new mayor is nothing if not high tech, and to that end announced an amazing level of data openness through the CityDW (City Data Warehouse) program this over the last couple of years. Not surprisingly, this includes a lot of geospatial data. And this continued with a large release of data about the transit system in the last …

One Geology to make 1:1,000,000 data available

OneGeology is a new web site with the mission to "Make web-accessible the best available geological map data worldwide at a scale of about 1: 1 million, as a geological survey contribution to the International Year of Planet Earth." It's an exciting endeavor and one that might mean more data and easier to find data on the Internet. The effort is to accumulate a comprehensive list of available WMS servers and make those servers available through their portal. They are currently (as of today) claiming 94 participating countries, including many that are already making data available. They are also working …

What's the economic half-life of Geodata?

A good thought piece from Ed Parsons' blog today about the half-life of geodata. Using the announcement (thanks to All Points Blog) this weekend that 35-years of Landsat data would be available to the public on the web as an impetus for discussion, Ed muses about the useful life of data.

Zillow Labs makes neighborhood shapes available

Real estate web site Zillow has announced that they are making the shape files that they use to indicate neighborhoods across the US available under the Creative Commons license. That's right, a commercial data provider who is willing to make data available for free. As they'd say in New Zealand, "Good on you!" The license requires attribution only, and that you make future versions available under the same license if you change the data.

Ed Parsons speaks out on the future of OS

Ed Parsons (CTO of Ordnance Survey in the UK) has the first of a series of articles on his personal site entitled "Building Ordnance Survey 2.0" that goes into his ideas about serving up OS data as more of a service model instead of a data sales (licensing) model. It could get interesting if the organization follows-through on his ideas, especially the idea of a try-before-you-buy model.

Maps that Lye

When browsing the OpenStreetMap Wiki, I ran across a page called Maps That Lye, which contains information about anti-copying provisions in maps. In particular, there are a number of locations on many maps that are intentionally wrong or misleading in an attempt to make it obvious (to the copyright holder) when maps or map data are copied. (Of course, if all map data were accurate, it would be almost impossible to tell that you had copied the map).

Open Source mapping coming to Manchester, UK

As part of the OpenStreetMap program, volunteers will be gathering in Manchester, UK on the 13th and 14th of May to try and generate map data for the city for use on OpenSteetMap. The site is a clearinghouse for open source geospatial data for public use. The gather, dubbed Mapchester was pointed out in a post by Ed Parsons on his site.

Do you get what you pay for?

Ed Parsons (CTO of Ordnance Survey in the UK, the premier provider of GIS data there) has an article in his blog commenting about a story in the Guardian about the price of data. Ed argues that if you don't pay directly for your GIS data, you're going to get the out-of-date data that is our (the US) national GIS database, with roads and satellite imagery that is has led to a significant amount of amusement (such as the "where is Apple?" comments that he references). Of course, comparing data (especially satellite imagery between a country that measures 241,590 …

VMAP0 and VMAP1 has a nice set of information about VMAP0 and VMAP1, data sets created by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (a branch of the US Government) to provide a basic world-level dataset. The data sets are large and quite detailed, with VMAP0 being at 1:1,000,000 and VMAP1 being at 1:250,000. Although the NGA has a data portal with navigation, the site at provides points for direct access to the data files, which is a bit nicer if you want to collect the whole set.

Geodetic reference points available in shapefile format

The National Geodetic Survey has a web service for providing geodetic reference data in shapefile format, suitable for use in GIS software. For those unfamiliar with the US NGS, they are a part of NOAA (go figure, they're not part of the USGS) that "defines and manages the national coordinate system." They're also the people who maintain the little metal "points" in the ground. The National Spatial Reference System is a central part of the maintenance of a successful national coordinate system. For those interested in more information on geodesy (the study of the shape of the Earth), there's a …

1m resolution data on National Map

Just in case all of this discussion about governmental censorship of maps has you down, you should take a look at this map of Champaign, Illinois. The national map has some data at resolutions of 1m per pixel, which is unbelievably detailed. And if you thought that was close up, try clicking the zoom and you'll find that you can get even closer. By the way, for those unfamiliar with Champaign, the spaceship-looking thing is the UIUC basketball stadium. For personal grins, check out Forbes Hall (the upper-left of the 6 rectangular buildings in the middle of the frame), where …

GNIS has your name written on it

OK, maybe it isn't your name, but it is the name of your town, and the names of millions of towns and places throughout the world. The USGS's Geonames (or GNIS) site contains downloadable datasets with names of cities, towns and other places. A companion site from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) contains foreign place names.