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Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Find Data

Where to Search for Data

Use the following sources to begin your data search:

1. MIT Geodata Repository

This contains some freely available data and data that is licensed specifically to MIT. When using GeoWeb to access the MIT Geodata Repository, you will also have access to publicly available data hosted by partner repositories. GeoWeb also searches the library records for maps and CDs/DVDs in the GIS lab.

See more information about the repository.

2. Data links in this guide

While this list is not comprehensive, we've tried to include some commonly used, free, Internet sources for data. Some data is in .shp file format and some is tabular.

Hover on the drop down arrow under "Find data" above to see categories.

3. OpenStreetMap

This crowd-sourced map is a good place to look for data that you can't find elsewhere. It often contains basic infrastructure data for places such as transportation, building outlines and location, natural features, and points of interest. 

To download the data as shapefile, we recommend using WeoGeo.

4. Barton Library Catalog

Some data is only available on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM in the GIS lab. These are listed in Barton catalog (MIT's Library catalog) to find these datasets. See more information about searching the library catalog.

5. The Internet

New, freely available data is being posted all the time, so if you can't find the data you are looking for using the links above, try doing an Internet search. If you find useful data, let us know so we can add the link to this site. Also make sure to download and save the data. Web pages often appear and disappear overnight!

6. Create your own data

You can collect data using a GPS unit and then add it as a layer to ArcMap. If you find data in tables that you would like to use, you can join this tabular data to a pre-existing .shp file. If you need help doing this, come to help hours in the GIS lab or contact us.