Finding Spatial Data - It Takes a Village
What do you do when you need data? Many of us start with the notion, “Perhaps someone already created this data, so I don’t have to start from scratch.” Let’s be honest. Data creation can be time consuming. Any hope of moving the project along with a leg up is a welcome resource. Perhaps you crank up your favorite browser and search engine. Some of us go to our favorite community forum and search or ask those colleagues.
If you work in any facet of the geospatial industry, you speak the language of data. Over the last few years, we’ve had authors discuss data, share data and show data solutions. The thing is…there is not one single place to find GIS and geospatial data. Dr. Joseph Kerski discusses some search strategies in his article, “Need Data? Successful Geospatial Data Searching Strategies.” He also recently shared his thoughts on examining data quality in a webinar, “Explore Why Data Quality Matters,” and an article.
In our search for data, we discovered many data portals and options. The United States does an excellent job of sharing data through state data clearinghouses. Many university libraries curate excellent state data listings, like Purdue, or have searchable data portals, like Stanford. DirectionsMag has examined this topic for years; but, like GIS software, curating these collections is a dynamic process that is always challenging.
Much like the family market list pinned to the refrigerator, we have started a list for you in hopes that you will share with us more items that should be “on the list.” We encourage you to submit resources and share updates to existing ones. Data Resources at DirectionsMag is available now, a data resources page for your reference. We are not trying to be your only source, but rather a reliable location for no cost resources. Like most GIS projects, it takes a village, true collaboration. Let’s make a difference together.
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