Looking for free data?

Acquiring Electronic Geospatial Data

Map and Geography Round Table ALA Annual, July 8, 2000

By Melissa Lamont


Good places to start:  
     Well organized and well maintained sites with extensive links
Guide to mostly free online and mostly free US geospatial and attribute data, 
  Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, University of Arkansas 
Map Library, Clark University 
Infomine, Scholarly Internet Resource Collections, University of California, Riverside 
NCDC Online Climate Data,  National Climatic Data Center 
NODC Data Access, National Oceanic Data Center 
Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, University of Iowa 
Locations for downloadable data: 
     Good compilations or value-added US government produced data and some international data 
        Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University  
        Includes data from the US Census, Mexico, China, the World Bank and the World Resources Institute 
        Also provides a search page for simultaneous searches of several important databases
GIS Data Depot  
        Brings together data from a number of sources, primarily US government data 
        Even the US state section is primarily Digital Chart of the World, or STATSGO 
        (US Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service State Soil Geographic) 
        Extensive FGDC metadata available
Directions Magazine 
        Published by the founder of Wessex 
        Users submit data to share 
        Downside -- very little metadata available 
        Has some cool stuff, British population by postal code, chart of the brightest stars, etc.
        United Nations Environmental Program, Global Resource Information Database  
        International data including Asian and African administrative units and demographics 
        Includes some metadata 
        Access though an online form - must provide name, e-mail and use for the data
USGS Geographic Data Download 
        The major USGS data sets
NNDC Climate Data Online 
    US and international data
Worth a look:
US Census 
         Statistical tables with demographic and socio-economic data for nations and regions
USGS Global Land Information System 
        Points to metadata, data and descriptions 
        Data sometimes online, others must be ordered
Global Change Master Directory, NASA 
        Easily navigated and good search capabilities 
        Global change defined broadly 
        Some data online, mostly metadata for data to order 
        Extensive list of links to other earth science data sites
NOS MapFinder 
        Title is somewhat a misnomer, the system indexes some data 
         Located digital bathymetric data here
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research 
         Includes a number of international scientific datasetes, primarily climatological 
         Also, a set of links to other sources of scientific data