On this page
I have created this guide to support you through your final project for HSCI 424.
GIS resources at SFU Library
Access GIS software, geospatial data, options for GIS training (in person and online), consultations, and other means of support via SFU Library's GIS & Maps pages.
Access points for geospatial data
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 SFU login required).
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 (Berenica Vejvoda; firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 (Berenica Vejvoda; email@example.com) can download the following products on behalf of SFU researchers for free or a reduced cost. These products are for academic use only.
- Terrain Resource Information Management Program (TRIM) data - Contains two geospatial datasets: TRIM DEM, which consists of shapefiles for elevation points and breaklines, and TRIM Positional, which consists of various layers for contours, cultural features, landcover, transportation and water. Both sets are for a scale of 1:20,000.
- Hillshade Imagery
- TRIM gridded DEM map sheet (25 m resolution)
- Orthophotos - Available at a reduced rate of $25 per mapsheet for SFU researchers. Many lower resolution scans available for free via the Province's Orthophoto Viewer.
- Digital airphotos High resolution TIFFs available at a reduced rate of $18.50 per photo for SFU researchers. Many lower resolution scans available for free via the Province's Air Photo Viewer and Historical Air Photo Index Map Viewer. Also of note: the Geographic Information Centre (GIC) at UBC has the largest collection of hard copy air photos in BC and scans may be obtained by visiting the GIC in person.
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.
Open Data catalogues
- Many government bodies (municipalities, provinces, nations, and others) increasingly make geospatial data available via open data catalogues and portals. You can generally locate these by searching for the name of your municipality, region, or province + "open data" using search engines like DuckDuckGo or Google. Note that sometimes you won't find data at the most granular level and will have to take a step back—you can often use regional, provincial, or even national data to get a municipality, for example.
- Open data portals across Canada - Not an exhaustive list. If you don't see the area that you're looking for, use the search technique mentioned above.
- A few especially good or important local Open Data catalogues:
Searching the web
Internet search engines can be a great way to locate datasets. Things to keep in mind:
- Search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Google give you specific commands that let you have more control and make your search more effective. In general, you want to nest each of your concepts in parentheses and use OR within the parentheses to combine synonyms and related terms. For example: Vancouver (parks OR trails OR "green space" OR "street trees"). Using quotation marks around phrases will search for an exact phrase. Consult the Library's search tips for Google, Google Scholar, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines for more information.
- You need to use geospatial keywords like the following in your search: GIS, shapefile, shp, “spatial data”, geospatial, "open data"
- As an example, searching Google for:
("tree inventory" OR "street trees") Ottawa (geospatial OR "open data")
brings me to this page in the City of Ottawa's data catalogue, where I can download a shapefile or kmz of street trees in Ottawa.
- Many organizations and research groups produce and share geospatial data. Check their websites! Look for sections with names like: "Data", Tools", "Resources", "Research". If you are unsuccessful in locating data via an organization's website and have reason to believe that they produce data that will be helpful in your work, consider contacting the organization.
- Selected data/web maps via organizations:
- British Columbia Marine Conservation Analysis
- International Water Management Institute
- BC Centre for Disease Control BC Community Health Data (statistical and numeric data)
- Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC) and Ecology Research program of British Columbia
- Canadian Rental Housing Index
- Bikemaps.org - worldwide map of volunteered geographic information (VGI) pertaining to cycling cycling safety, hazards, and bike thefts.
Academic library data catalogues and portals
Many academic library data catalogues or portals contain Open Data that anyone can download; here are a few that do.
- You must cite any datasets used in your work just as you would cite a journal article or book. It is generally best practice to cite each layer that you use.
- Please consult these Recommended guides for citing maps and geospatial data.