Free GIS Resources

Useful Resources for the GIS User

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GIS Software Comparison Matrix

GIS Software Comparison Matrix highlighting differences in available software packages: – Google Doc

Free Global Data list as provided by RTWilson

Afghanistan

Antarctica

Arctic

Australia

Belgium

  • Belgium Marine Data: Data on the marine environment around Belgium including anchorage areas, naviation routes, power cables, wind farms, dredging zones and sand banks.
  • Belgian Historical GIS: Historical GIS data focusing on population and boundary changes.

Bolivia

Brazil

  • Brazil Geosciences Products: Wide range of datasets for Brazil, including basemaps, administrative boundaries and land use. You may need a bit of Portuguese knowledge to use the site, and some maps are only available in PDF format. Many are available as Shapefiles in the directories whose names end with SHAPE. In Portugeuese

Canada

  • GeoGratis: A wide range of free datasets covering Canada including population, Landsat mosaics, land capability, hydrology and radar data – as well as many others.
  • GeoBase: Freely available GIS data overseen by the Canadian Council on Geomatics. Includes administrative boundaries, geographical names, elevation, orthorectified satellite imagery, road networks and much more. Registration required
  • Toporama: Simplified raster versions of the standard National Topographic Survey maps at 1:50,000 and 1:250,000.
  • Alaska and Canada Land Cover: 1km resolution land cover data for Alaska and Canada.
  • Canada Road Network File: Canada’s national road network as shapefile data with information including street names, types, directions and address ranges.
  • Canadian Soil Information Service: Soil maps for the whole of Canada available for download in GIS formats (mainly shapefiles with associated attribute data). Includes lots of metadata and process/methodology information.
  • State/City Specific
    • British Colombia Digital Geology Map: Detailed geological maps for the province of British Colombia, available in shapefile and PDF formats. Data from 2005 and a beta version from 2011.
    • DataBC: Various free and open datasets from the government of British Columbia *(to find geographic datasets, follow links to the catalogue, and then choose Geospatial Dataset under Resource Types)*
    • Manitoba Land Initiative: Detailed land data for the province of Manitoba. Registration required
    • GeoNOVA: Geospatial data portal for the province of Nova Scotia.
    • Alberta Geological Survey Data: Geology for the province of Alberta.
    • New Brunswick GIS downloads: Orthoimages, topography and address information for New Brunswick
    • Yukon Spatial Data: Main spatial data site for Yukon, including ortho-imagery and vector and raster GIS data.
    • Saskatchewan Spatial Data: Main spatial data site for the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan. Registration required
    • Prince Edward Island GIS Data: GIS data from the government of Prince Edward Island.

Central America

China

  • China Dimensions Data Collection: GIS data including administrative regions, census data linked to maps and agricultural data.
  • Diamond Bay Data: Chinese counties, census statistics and Digital Chart of the World China GIS layers.
  • China Historical GIS: Historical boundaries, tribal areas etc for China from 1820 back to 222 BCE. Registration required

Denmark

  • Kortforsyningen: A wide range of data for Denmark including aerial photos, LiDAR data, historical maps and more. Registration required
  • Danmarks Miljoportal: Environmental and ecological data for Denmark

East Timor

  • Timor-Leste GIS Portal: Wide range of datasets for East Timor, including infrastructure, natural environment, road networks, base maps, elevation and more.

Finland

France

  • IGN: Free GIS data for France including relief, drainage, boundaries, raster maps and coastline. In French
  • ParisData: Open Data for Paris, including lots of georeferenced data. In French
  • Coastal Orthophotos: Orthophotos over the whole of the French coast available for download. In French

Germany

  • NIBIS GIS: German GIS aggregation service allowing you to display and download various maps of Germany.
  • German Postal Areas: Vector polygons of German postal areas (similar to zip code or postcode areas). In German

Greece

  • Greece Open Geodata: The Greek government’s open GeoData portal, with a wide range of datasets.

Ireland

Italy

Japan

Kenya

  • Kenya GIS: Wide range of GIS data (provided as shapefiles) for Kenya including population, land cover, agriculture, poverty and climate.

Mexico

  • Georeferenced Population: 1990 population for Mexican states, municipalities and islands. Data aligns with US TIGER data at US-Mexican border.

Namibia

  • Digital Atlas of Namibia: Freely available data for Namibia in categories of Climate, Physical Geography, Living-resources, Land and History and People, Services and Infrastructure.
  • Namib Sand Sea Digital Database: Set of data covering the Namib Sand Sea (area of sand dunes in Namibia) including DEMs, satellite images, point ages and dune crests.

Nepal

  • ICIMOD Geoportal: Data from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, focusing on the Himalayas.

The Netherlands

  • PDOK: Digital topographic maps at various scales available as both vector and raster data.

New Zealand

  • LINZ Topographic Maps: Freely available raster copies of Land Information New Zealand topographic maps at 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 scales. Equivalent of Ordnance Survey maps for New Zealand.
  • LINZ Data Service: A new service by Land Information New Zealand. Topographic, hydrographic, survey, titles and geodetic datasets are freely accessible with more LINZ datasets added over time.
  • Koordinates: GIS data aggregation site which focuses especially on New Zealand. It includes data in a number of categories such as elevation, environment, climate etc. Mostly vector, but some raster. Registration required
  • LRIS Data Portal: GIS data for New Zealand from Landcare Research, focussing on soil and environmental data and including 25m-resolution DEMs of North and South Island.
  • New Zealand Bathymetry: 250m-resolution raster bathymetry data for New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
  • Department of Conservation Geoportal: A range of conservation-related datasets to download, including conservation areas, marine reserves, campsites, huts and area boundaries.

Norway

  • Norweigan Land Cover: Various datasets concerning land resources in Norway provided by the Norwegian Landscape and Forest Institute, including land type, forest, tree species and site index with a scale from 1:5000 to 1:250000.

Papa New Guinea

  • Coastline: 1:50,000 coastline of Papa New Guinea, in MapInfo format. Derived from Landsat data.

Philippines

  • GIS Data Clearinghouse: Various datasets relating to the Philippines including boundaries, DEMs, rainfall, and river data.

Portugal

  • Portugese Web Atlas: Many datasets including physical geography data (temperature, wind, geology, seismic data, ecology, soils), human geography data (tourism, population, services), protected areas and detailed data on the Azores and Madeira

Puerto Rico

  • Geology of Puerto Rico: Detailed geological maps in vector format, with extended attribute information. From USGS.

Romania

  • GeoSpatial Romania: Good selection of vector and raster layers for Romania, including historical information.

Russia

Slovenia

Spain

South Africa

  • Department of Water Affairs: South African drainage network at 1:500,000. Topologically correct with detailed metadata (including name, seasonality of flow, Strahler order and more).
  • Biodiversity GIS: Wide range of biodiversity data for South Africa.

Switzerland

  • SwissTopo: Data from the Swiss National Mapping Agency including boundaries, 1:1 million vector maps, Landsat images, geological maps and a map of Switzerland during the last glacial maximum.
  • Swiss Geoportal: The Geoportal of the Swiss Confederation – with some data available directly and others via links to other sites.

United Kingdom (UK)

  • General
    • OS OpenData: Many Ordnance Survey mapping products available in both vector and raster formats. Resolutions from 1:250k to 1:10k as well as detailed gazateers, boundary datasets and post-code point locations.
    • Data.gov.uk: Huge amounts of data, a fair proportion of which is georeferenced. Useful datasets include snapshots of public transport journeys and lists of public transport stops.
    • ShareGeo Open: Directory of free GIS data for the UK, easily searchable – includes wide range of data including boundaries, national parks, contours, archeological sites and much more.
    • MAGIC Datastore: A wide range of datasets for the UK including boundaries, pipelines, urban areas, health and safety and more. Many entries in the database are links to other sites and some require registration.
    • New Popular Edition OS Maps: Scans of many of the (out-of-copyright) New Popular Edition OS maps from the 1940s and 1950s. Available to view online and to download by contacting the authors.
    • Guardian Datablog: Wide range of data, mostly UK-focused but some international, collected by The Guardian newspaper in the UK.
  • Ecology
    • Natural England: Natural landscape boundaries including areas of National Parks, National Nature Reserves, SSSIs, Common Land, AONBs, Bogs, Mudflats etc.
    • JNCC: UK Offshore Conservation: – Shapefiles
  • Atmosphere, Weather and Climate
    • Natural Atmospheric Emissions Inventory: Maps of atmospheric polluntants including greenhouse gases and particulate matter concentrations. Available for download as ASCII Grid files.
    • UK Pollutant Deposition: Maps of pollutant deposition across the UK for chemicals such as ammonium, nitric acid, nitrogen and sulphur dioxide.
  • Energy
    • National Grid GIS data: Shapefiles with locations of power transmission lines, underground cables, substations and more.
  • Historical Data
    • Great Britain Historical Database Online: Historical statistics linked to spatial areas including census data, births/marriages/deaths statistics and many others.
    • Atlas of Rural Settlement in England: GIS data of the maps from Brian Roberts and Stuart Wrathmella’s An Atlas of Rural Settlement in England, including extensive metadata. Includes locations of settlements, provinces and regions as well as terrain types and more.
  • Geology
  • Education
    • Edubase: Data from the UK Government on all educational establishments (Nurseries, Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Universities) in England and Wales. To download data, click Subscribe on the left and register. Two downloads are permitted per year.
  • Buildings and Points of Interest
    • Postbox locations: Locations of Royal Mail postboxes across the UK, derived from a Freedom of Information request to Royal Mail, plus OpenStreetMap data. Provided in tab-separated format, with latitude and longitude co-ordinates
    • Postal boundaries: Postcode boundaries at multiple levels (from postal town areas to unit postcodes), released under an open data license.
  • City-specific
    • London Open Data: Open access to data that the Greater London Authority and other related organisations holds

United Arab Emirates

United States of America (USA)