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Data and Statistics: GIS & Geospatial Data

What is GIS?

A geographic information system (GIS) is a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data. It analyzes spatial location and organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes. ​With this unique capability, GIS reveals deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations—helping users make smarter decisions.

From Esri

Selected Books

GIS Showcase

From Esri

GIS Software & Tools

Esri Logo 
ArcGIS is the leading GIS software for working with maps and geographic information. (OWU has campus license to the software.  It is also available in the GIS lab.)

QGIS logo
QGIS:  free and open source GIS software 
GRASS GIS: free GIS software


What is Geospatial Data?

The word geospatial is used to indicate that data that has a geographic component to it.  This means that the records in a dataset have locational information tied to them such as geographic data in the form of coordinates, address, city, or ZIP code. GIS data is a form of geospatial data.  Other geospatial data can originate from GPS data, satellite imagery, and geotagging.

From GIS Lounge

Selected Websites Federal, state, and local data repository for the United States on many different subjects.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Dataset Gateway: Environmental science data catalog for the United States.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF): Biological and ecological data from many different institutions throughout the world.

Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework: Spatial framework and database for Great Lakes ecological data.

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species: Global inventory of species conservation status and other spatial data.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Open Data Portal: Catalog of NASA datasets and other aerospace and earth science data.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Data Discovery Portal: Catalog of NOAA datasets and other aquatic and marine science data.

National Weather Service GIS Portal: Weather datasets from the National Weather Service for the United States.

United States Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Explorer: Satellite and aerial remote sensing data from the USGS.

United States Geological Survey (USGS) Science Data Catalog: Geological and environmental sciences data catalog from the USGS.