Friday, May 16, 2014

Data junkies

Image above Tempting fate with extreme adventures in amazing landscapes.

Related links to Spatialworlds 
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website    

Where am I??  
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Accessing some interesting data

After learning how to use GIS, the next challenge is to find user friendly data to import. For the data junky this is the food for GIS!  However, as with anything desired, it is not always smooth sailing. There is an enormous amount of free data on the Internet but teachers often find that the data is:
  • in a different projection to the base maps they have been using
  • not in the file format they require i.e. MapInfo .tab format instead of the ESRI .shp format
  • difficult to download
  • not the local data they require
  • the same old data that is easy to access ie.generic world data
  • old data
  • US focussed (the greatest producer of spatial data)
  • poor quality data with data missing (has been deleted because of cost or confidentiality).
Needless to say, the access to data can be problematic for the novice (and experienced). 
Despite these concerns, the access to free data is easier than ever. Just check out the following sites to view the free data available in Shapefile format. The shapefile (or ESRI shapefile) format is a geospatial vector format and one of the most common (if not the most common) map format around the world.

* Free Shapefiles from Stat Silk 
On this site there are thousands of shapefile maps from a range of websites, including country shapefiles, shapefiles at province or state level, and other administrative boundaries maps. The shapefile (or ESRI shapefile) format is a geospatial vector format and one of the most common (if not the most common) map format.

* MapCruzin free Shapefiles 

* A listing of sites offering free Shapefile data
* Free GIS data in geography topic areas

* Free South Australian spatial data: In September 2013, the SA Premier announced a Declaration of Open Data to make government data available for use by business and the community. As a result, free spatial data in South Australia is coming on-line on a daily basis. This DATA SA site has some great data sets as Shapefiles and Google Earth KML files.  Just go to and search for 'spatial' using the 'Search Box' to view the spatial data sets. If you are after the ever elusive crime data, just enter 'crime' in the search box (the crime data needs to be joined to another data set which is a bit of a pain but achievable with a bit of work). 

With such great data available and free GIS software, such a QGIS now available, nothing should be able to stop us using GIS in the classroom - or just by ourselves for geographical fun.

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