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Mapping Data  

This is a guide to various software and web applications that let you create maps.
Last Updated: Mar 18, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
Mapping Data Print Page

Guide to Mapping Data

This guide was developed as part of a series of workshops on "Data for Social Justice."

Related guides:

Finding data

Analyzing & visualizing data

Intro to ArcGIS


Online tutorials GIS Tutorials Basic and intermediate tutorials in ArcGIS and web mapping.

University of Waterloo Tutorials  Podcasts, screencasts, and slides introducing GIS, ArcGIS, Google Maps, and web mapping.


Workshops and training

Introduction to GIS using Open Source Software is a day-long workshop offered at Baruch each semester. Current graduate students, faculty and staff from throughout CUNY can register. Visit the GIS practicum page for eligibility, registration, and course details.


Sources of spatial data

New York City
MapPLUTO - NYC tax lot data and features
BYTES of the BIG APPLE - boundary, zoning, and streets data
Baruch's GIS Data Repository - includes a mix of public and Baruch/CUNY-only data

New York State
NYS GIS Clearinghouse
Cornell University Geospatial Information Repository (CUGIR)

United States
Census Bureau TIGER Products Includes shapefile boundaries for Census geographies.
USDA Geospatial Data Gateway from the US Dept. of Agriculture

Data by Country From DIVA-GIS
UNEP GEO Data Portal from the UN Environment Programme


Mapping applications

ArcGIS Online free, online GIS viewer lets you fuse local data with existing map layers to create custom maps.

Google Fusion Tables allows you to combine data values and KML polygon boundaries from your own or other data sources.

CartoDB drag & drop interface lets you create quick maps for the web.

MapBox and TileMill free, downloadable software to create interactive maps.

Indiemapper web-based application lets you create static thematic maps.


Professional-grade mapping software

ArcGIS is the industry standard proprietary GIS software package and is produced by Esri (formerly ESRI, or Environmental Systems Research Institute). It is a Windows-only suite of programs:

  • ArcMap: for making maps and conducting analyses
  • ArcCatalog: for organizing data and metadata, similar to "My Computer" on a Windows PC
  • ArcScene: incorporates 3D visualizations of terrain into maps
  • ArcGlobe: for 3D visualizations of very large raster or vector data sets

ArcGIS 10.1 Desktop is available on all workstations in the Graduate Center Library. From the Start menu, choose "All Programs" then navigate to ArcMap.

For off-campus access to ArcGIS, log in to Citrix. You'll find ArcGIS in the Statistics folder.

Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a user-friendly open source GIS software package licensed under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). It runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, Windows and Android and supports numerous vector, raster, and database formats and functionalities. It is available for download from the QGIS Project website.

GRASS GIS is a free and open source GIS software suite used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics and maps production, spatial modeling, and visualization. GRASS GIS is currently used in academic and commercial settings around the world, as well as by many governmental agencies and environmental consulting companies. It is available for download from the GRASS GIS website.


Census/demographic mapping sites

NY Times Mapping America allows you to browse and map census tract-level data related to race/ethnicity, income, housing/families, and education from the American Community Survey from 2005-2009.

Mapping the Measure of America allows state- and county-level mapping of demographic, health, education, income, and security data. A project of the Social Science Research Council.

Social Explorer  Graduate Center/CUNY licensed resource allows you to create thematic maps and download current and historical data.


Other themed mapping sites

The National Map Viewer USGS tool creates multi-layered maps incorporating a wide variety of social and environmental/geological data.

SEDAC Map Client lets you create global and regional maps on themes ranging from poverty and governance to sustainability and conservation.

NASA Worldview allows you to interactively browse global satellite imagery. Users can overlay and visualize a subset of social/political map layers in conjunction with satellite images.

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