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Geographic Information Systems (GIS): GIS lab computers & software

GIS Help

The GIS & Data lab, housed on the 1st floor of Rotch Library (7-238), is available for use during Rotch's operating hours. Software and one-on-one help is for use by the MIT Community only.

In-person help hours

September 14th - December 9th

Tuesday - Thursday: 2-4pm

Stop by during in-person help hours or email to schedule a virtual appointment.

Need to use a lab computer remotely? See our policies here.



Computer Policies

Computer Use

  • 16 computers are available in the lab during Rotch's operating hours and require an MIT Athena login. The lab may occasionally be closed for workshops. Information will be posted on our website.
  • Computers can be used by members of the MIT community only.
  • Use of installed software on the computers takes priority over other uses of the machines.
  • Upon logging off, the Documents, Downloads and Desktop will be cleared of files. The E: drives can be used for temporary data storage. Create a folder using your kerberos name. For help with data management or storage, contact Data Management Services.
  • Per the Libraries' Food and Beverage Policy, food and uncovered drinks are not allowed near computer terminals.

Remote Computer Reservations

GIS & Data Lab computers can be used remotely during the following times:

  • Weekends (6pm Friday - 10am Monday)
  • When Rotch Library is closed for an extended period of time (holidays, Institute breaks, etc.)
  • While running an analysis, process, etc. that takes longer than 1 day
  • If a personal circumstance prevents you from coming to the lab in person (sickness, extended remote working arrangement, etc.)

To use a computer remotely, you MUST email to schedule a reservation BEFORE beginning your work.

Remote Computer Use Policies

  • A reservation is required if you will not be using a computer in-person. Computers that are locked but have no reservation will be restarted.
  • Analysis must be for MIT-related work. Projects using software already installed on the computers take priority. 
  • Reservations cannot be made for more than 1 week, but it may be possible to extend a reservation with permission from GIS staff if the computer is not needed by others. You may be asked by GIS staff to end an analysis if the machines are needed for other users or classes.
  • If you do not renew your reservation the computer will be restarted so that others may use it.
  • GIS staff are not responsible for monitoring the computer. We will place a sign on computers that are being used remotely, but the GIS & Data lab is open to all MIT community members and computers could inadvertently get re-started or unplugged.


The software listed below is installed on all GIS & Data lab computers unless otherwise noted. Software is for use by the MIT Community only.

GIS & Mapping Software

Imagery & Visualization Software

Data Analysis Software

Software Use Terms

Use of licensed software is restricted to members of the MIT community for the purposes of research, education, and scholarship. Under MIT's licenses, users generally may not:

  • redistribute the software or materials or permit anyone other than a member of the MIT community to use them
  • remove, obscure or modify any copyright or other notices included in the software or materials
  • use the software or materials for commercial purposes

When a member of the organization terminates affiliation with the organization or a member's affiliation with the organization is terminated by the organization or a person not affiliated with the organization leaves campus, the member or person must destroy all personal copies of the software or derived data. Users are individually responsible for compliance with these terms.