Open Data

Geospatial Data Sources - Round 2

Volcano Eruptions - Data from USGS

Volcano Eruptions - Data from USGS


We had previously published an article related to open GIS data sources around the internet that were free to use. We wanted to update that list to expose even more resources and provide any new information on sites we mentioned before. Here is the original Geospatial Data Sources Article to get an idea on everything we started with before writing this one. It's worth checking that one out as that post is pretty extensive. We are thinking about putting together a list of companies who sell high quality geospatial datasets as well but for now we hope you find use out of this list covering free and open data. There are many more and we will post more versions of this list down the road. Let us know if you know any that we do not mention that you would like us to list.

Public/Commercial Open Data

  • ArcGIS Open Data - This ESRI resource boasts around 50,000 datasets from over 3000 organizations worldwide. Its definitely worth doing a search here to see if your dataset of interest is contained within this library. Export formats can vary but can be spreadsheet, shapefiles, or KML.
  • GeoDeg Beta is a site that allows users to search for Points of Interest covering a large variety of categories. These POIs are from Wikimapia, Wikipedia, and OpenStreetMap. After searching for categories of POIs such as Skyscrapers or TV Towers the users can export those lists as KML, GPX, or TomTom ov2 formats.
  • Geo Community GIS Data Depot offers free datasets as well as paid data. In most of the geographic areas they are consistent in offering the following types of data but can provide more in high profile countries such as the United States:
    • Admin/Political Boundaries - 1M - E00 Format
    • Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) Level 0
    • Geologic - 1M - E00 Format
    • Hydrography - 1M - E00 Format
    • Hypsography - 1M - E00 Format
    • Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Mosaics - 2000
    • Landsat Thematic Mapper Mosaics - 1990
    • Landuse/Land Cover - 1M - E00 Format
    • Place name Gazetteer
    • Transportation - 1M - E00 Format
    • Utilities - 1M - E00 Format
  • Standford GIS Library - Although we are featuring Standford's data in this particular link it should be noted that many colleges and universities have public resources that often contain free GIS datasets to pull from. It varies widely on what is provided and are often designed to give students a few baseline datasets to start their projects. For example Standford has Admin Boundaries, Population data, and transportation files.
  • Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) is a hub for humanitarian data just as the name hints. Not everything in here is Geospatial friendly but formats could vary from csv, geojson, to shapefiles. Data can range from health reports, data on specific crisis events over the years, to refugee numbers in many countries.
  • Protected Planet gives users access to a World Database on Protected Areas. It is a joint project of IUCN and UNEP. The web application shows where protected areas of the world are and even integrated content from the WDPA, photos from Panoramio and text descriptions from Wikipedia. Data is exportable from Protected Planet.
  • Koordinates is a search engine for publically available datasets to include GIS formats. The application and Data is meant to serve users on a worldwide level but we will note that many of the datasets seem to be very focused around Australia and New Zealand. Either way its a good service to occasionally check on to see if they have something of interest.
  • OpenCellID is the world's largest collaborative community project that collects GPS positions of cell towers, used free of charge, for a multitude of commercial and private purposes. The data is completely free and the coverage is worldwide. The dataset is in the millions so be ready to use a heavy GIS program like QGIS or ArcGIS if you want to do some analysis or use cloud storage in Amazon and Google to get it up where it is more usable for more applications. They do have an API available for that purpose as well.

Government Open Data

  • The Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) is part of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. Department of State. Not all the data is Geospatially friendly but can still over a good resource for researching areas of Humanitarian focus. Many of their products are PDF exports. At the very least it maybe worth reaching out to the agency directly if you need datasets from a particular product they have published.The goals of the HIU is:
    • Identifies key sources of geospatial and georeferenced data best suited to meet the information requirements of our consumers;
    • Collects timely, verifiable, and relevant data utilizing an extensive network of information partnerships;
    • Analyzes data using multi-agency expertise and applying proven technologies to determine significant trends and relationships; and
    • Disseminates information of value to all levels of consumers, from national-level policymakers to operational field managers.
  • GeoPlatform provides shared and trusted geospatial data, services, and applications for use by the public and by government agencies and partners to be:
    • A one-stop shop that delivers trusted, consistent data and services
    • Authoritative data to support informed decision making
    • Reusable applications and services for governmental and nongovernmental use
    • A shared infrastructure that can host your data and applications
    • A focal point where governmental, academic, private, and public data can be visualized together to inform national and regional issues
  • The US Energy Information Administration not all data here is geo friendly but the website offers a wide range of energy related topic datasets to include things like US Power Plants of various types around the country, pipelines, and refineries.
  • Homeland Infrastructure and Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD) provides National foundation-level geospatial data (US Based) within the open public domain that can be useful to support community preparedness, resiliency, research, and more. The data is available for download as CSV, KML, Shapefile, and accessible via web services. Some categories of data that can be found here include Borders Boundaries, Communications, Emergency Services, Energy,  Finance, Geonames, Mining, Transportation, and Water Supply.