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Spatial Data

Spatial data can be used to make maps. Visualizing your data on a map makes it easier for your users to see patterns in your data that may get lost in a tabular format.

How do I find geospatial data?


Is the data openly available?
  • In some cases the data you want to visualize will not be available (because it has not been created, the creator does not want to provide access or the cost is prohibitive). Finding data takes time. Come talk to us if you have questions!

Who would be creating the data?
  • When trying to find data, the best way is to think who would be creating it: Government, Non-Profit Agency, Private Company, etc.
  • Search the group’s website for a data portal or look for links for “data download” or “open data”.
Will the data already be in a geospatial format or will you need to create it?
  • Sometimes the data you need to make a map will not be in an appropriate format to be used with your visualization software, in this case files may need to be joined or digitized.

If all else fails...

Search Google by combining your keywords and words that describe your format (GIS, data, .shp, shapefile…) or try the Google Dataset Search.

***Remember to be critical here and assess the data the same way you would a journal article (think: currency, accuracy and authority)

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