Monday, August 31, 2009

Free GIS Data for Washington, D.C.

Whether you are working on a GIS project for a class assignment or setting up a demo to convey functionality in ArcMap, the biggest challenge is usually finding (free) spatial data. Even if you are able to find the data required to present the main theme of your project/demo, it is often difficult to find the surrounds necessary for a cartographic display of the results.

One great source for spatial data is the DC GIS Data Inventory provided by the Washington, D.C. local government. Their website contains hundreds of datasets from A to Z (literally) in both shapefile and keyhole markup language formats. Data exists for a broad range of categories for the entire District. I have listed only a fraction of available data below to point out some of the most common/useful datasets, but you can visit the DC GIS Data Inventory website for a complete directory.

Transportation
• Streets
• Bike Routes
• Bus Routes
• Bus Stops
• Metro Lines
• Metro Stops
• Sidewalks

Environmental
• Soil Polygons
• Wetlands
• Wooded Areas
• Watersheds
• Air Emissions

Infrastructure
• Utility Poles
• Electrical Substations
• Fire Hydrants
• Buildings

Commercial
• Retail Sites
• Gas Stations

Surrounds
• City Boundary
• Census Boundaries
• Streets
• Railroads
• Parks
• Water Bodies

The above is merely a snapshot of what is available on the site. You could easily create a mulit-modal transportation network, complete an environmental research project, present a detailed cartographic display of your project/demo results, and much more. Additionally, each dataset contains highly detailed metadata in Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and ESRI standards. The metadata for each dataset can be viewed prior to downloading the data.

So if you have a project idea for a class assignment or demo that isn’t location specific, establishing Washington, D.C. as the setting for your analysis may be a pliable option given the broad range of available data.

1 comment:

  1. San Francisco also has a collection of data at http://www.sfgov.org/gis which isn't quite as large but does have everything you'd need to start making urban maps.

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