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Spatial Data Resources

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Getting Started

Spatial data is available in a variety of formats from numerous publishers including government, academic, and corporate bodies.

Use this guide to find authoritative data resources, tips for finding data, and information about data available at UChicago.

Data types

Look for these common file types and formats that work well with many GIS applications:

  • shapefiles (.shp)
  • geodatabase (.gdb)
  • comma-separated values (.csv)
  • Keyhole Markup Language (.kml or .kmz)
  • GeoTIFF (.tiff)
  • GeoJSON (.JSON)
  • GPS Exchange Format (.gpx)

Searching for data

The free and open web is still one of the best places to find spatial data. 

To find spatial data through a search engine:

  • use keywords like GIS data, shapefile, and download
  • use specific location names
  • search for city, county, state, and federal government websites

Example: GIS data download Chicago

Google search for "GIS data download Chicago." The first two results are for GIS data downloads through the city of Chicago.

GIS Librarian

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Rob Shepard
262 Regenstein Library