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Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Service Guidelines



MIT GIS Services supports the MIT community by providing expertise in the identification and use of data and tools associated with Geographic Information Systems projects both inside and outside the classroom. Our service policy balances demand and available resources in an equitable manner.


Individual Support:

  • GIS Services provides support to individuals through regular GIS lab hours and via email to

  • During regular GIS lab hours, visitors are helped on a first-come, first-served basis by the trained GIS team member who is available at that time.

  • If a member of the MIT community is not available during regularly scheduled GIS lab hours, he/she may request an appointment with a GIS specialist by emailing A GIS specialist will meet with the person as soon as possible, but availability of the GIS team is very limited outside of regularly scheduled lab hours.

  • is an email queue shared by the GIS team, therefore it is continuously monitored, even if one staff member is unavailable or out of town. Questions are typically responded to within 1-2 business days.

  • GIS Services offers limited support for computer programming for GIS projects in Python and Google Maps API. A GIS specialist can introduce patrons to a framework for working through a project and answer a limited number of questions. Requests for programming support will be evaluated on a case by case basis, but a clear project scope and timeline are required before GIS Services can decide whether or not it can support a programming request. Patrons desiring support in generating code for their GIS projects are expected to already have a basic understanding of programming concepts as GIS Services does not have the resources to teach this. Patrons are encouraged to work with a high level of independence.


Consultation guidelines:

  • GIS services provides consultations to the MIT community on GIS projects. However, GIS services cannot support projects that a patron does not have the time or ability to complete on their own.

  • Consultation time is limited to one hour with any one user at a time to ensure reasonable support for other users.

  • While providing help for homework assignments, GIS services may refer users to their TA or professor for help on exercises created for a specific class.

  • Please remember the following things are your responsibility:


GIS Services provides in-class instruction and hands-on workshops for the MIT community.

  • Requests for instruction should be made with sufficient time for a GIS specialist to thoroughly prepare for the class. For example: Presentations may take up to 8 hours to prepare; hands-on exercises may take hours to days to prepare; new data acquisitions can range from hours to months (depending on vendors and licensing).
  • Requests will be evaluated on a case by case basis, as the time commitments necessary will vary based on the topic and type of instruction requested.
  • Email your request to

GIS Lab:

The GIS lab offers both an individual and collaborative work environment. Users are welcome to work on GIS projects anytime Rotch Library is open and to save work on the local computer drives. However, the GIS lab is not an archive and users are responsible for properly managing and backing up their data.

GPS units:

Units are available for checkout by the MIT community from the Rotch Library Service Desk. Units can be checked out for 7 days. Requests for loan periods longer than 7 days can be made to Research and teaching projects have priority for extended loans.

Software and Data:

  • ESRI software is available via an MIT site license for research and teaching by the MIT Community and is distributed by IS&T.

  • MIT GIS Services supports the MIT Geodata Repository, an international collection of geodata accessible 24/7. It is accessible through a web browser, MIT Geoweb. Anyone interested in contributing data they created to the MIT Geodata Repository should contact

  • The libraries may be able to purchase GIS data for a class or research project. Each request is handled on a case by case basis. Obtaining GIS data may take days to months, depending on the data source and if a license agreement needs to be negotiated. Email to request data.