You are here

Accessing geospatial data

Map of Devastating 2003 Heat Wave in the Netherlands Observed from MODIS Satellite. Mehdi Aminipouri (PhD Candidate in Geography at SFU)

Course guides focused on geospatial data sources

SFU-purchased data (SFU login or librarian-mediated access)

Abacus 
The licensed geospatial data that SFU Library has purchased are available for instant download in SFU's section of Abacus. Browse datasets or use the search box in the top right to search by keyword(s). Abacus also contains statistical and numeric data. See also the Public Data Collection in Abacus (no login required). 

DMTI Spatial 
A collection of detailed geospatial data for Canada that includes current and historic datasets of road networks, parks, water bodies and rivers, rail infrastructure, business locations and building footprints, digital elevation models, neighbourhood and community boundaries, postal codes, and more. The many DMTI datasets that SFU Library has access to are stored in Abacus (link above). The most recent DMTI data is the CanMap Content Suite, v2016.3. 

Integrated Cadastral Information Society (ICIS) Data
Use the ICIS BC Spatial Public Map Viewer to quickly and easily view ICIS data. The GIS & Map Librarian (Julie Jones; ) can download the following datasets on behalf of SFU researchers:

  • Cadastral data for all of BC
  • AddressBC Data
  • Assessment Fabric Layer Data from BC Assessment
  • Canadian Wildlife Service
  • Agricultural Land Reserve
  • Health Authority Locations
  • Conservation Parcels
  • Police Jurisdictions

BC Geographic Data - Many products on this page are free and can be downloaded by anyone. However, some have a cost. The GIS & Map Librarian (Julie Jones; ) can download the following products on behalf of SFU researchers for free or a reduced cost. These products are for academic use only. 

LandScan Global Population
Country-level demographic data, 1st level admin demographic data, pixel (1km²) level data, and a layer with area calculations for population density. Country and 1st level admin level data include age, gender, and age-by-gender population breakdowns. 

Selected open geospatial data sources

Canada

GeoGratis (NRCan)
Canadian geospatial data. Vector mapping data is available in scales ranging from 1:250000 to 1:30 000 000 in a variety of file formats. ​See also: Geogratis API - Search

Scholars GeoPortal
​Includes many open datasets, including Census Boundary Files from 1911-2011.  

Government of Canada Open Data Portal
Search by keyword and use the options on the right of the page to limit to geospatial data. There is an option to limit to shapefile (SHP) under File Format.

Open data portals across Canada
Not an exhaustive list. If you don't see the area that you're looking for, try searching for the name of your municipality, region, or province + "open data" in Google. Note that sometimes you won't find data at the most granular level and will have to take a step back—for example, you can often use regional, provincial, or even national data to get a municipality. 

National Soil DataBase (NSDB)
Soil, landscape, and climatic data for all of Canada. The NSDB includes GIS coverages at a variety of scales.  

Abacus Public Data Collection 
British Columbia Research Libraries Data Services

British Columbia

DataBC
BC Open Data Catalogue, including spatial data.

Metro Vancouver Open Data Catalogue 
Geospatial data for Greater Vancouver region. 

Province of BC Geographic Data and Services
Provides links to a number of important resources, including web mapping applications, raw data catalogues, and location services such as BC Physical Address Geocoder, Geographical Names Web Service, and Route Planner.

USA

Data.gov
US Government open data portal

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) - Maps, Imagery, and Publications  

A range of data products including:

Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER)
United States Census Bureau data.

International

Open Data Inception - 2600+ Open Data Portals Around the World
List maintained by OpenDataSoft.

European Union Open Data Portal
Open data  produced by the institutions of the EU arranged by subject.

United Nations Cartographic Section
General maps of countries and regions, peacekeeping maps, thematic maps and more.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) GeoNetwork
Interactive maps, GIS datasets, and satellite imagery.

Ordnance Survey Open Data (UK)
Open datasets provided by Britain's mapping agency.

Geolode
A collaborative catalog of open data websites from around the world.