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Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

This Subject Guide provides you with many GIS resources which can enable you to successfully use GIS for your research and coursework.

There is a wealth of GIS data available to you through resources located at the Freedman Center and through the web. Below you will find links to major online datasets. Please email for assistance finding an exact dataset that meets your needs.



  • Cuyahoga County GIS - The county provides many different datasets for download including a wide variety of shapefiles, aerial photography, LiDAR, and 2-foot contours.
  • GIMS - Geographic Information Management Systems sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
  • NEOCANDO  - Northeast Ohio Community and Neighborhood Data for Organizing (at CWRU) provides data for crime, juvenile delinquency, child maltreatment, births and deaths are available at different geographic levels. Free registration is required for data access.
  • OGRIP - Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program - provides spatial data sets and maps available for download. 
  • PUCO - the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio - provides shapefiles of various utilities and service areas. 


  • Data.Gov and - These sites are the first stop for any research on the US. contains a trove of  data covering topics such as agriculture, education, finance, and health. GeoPlatform provides much of the spatial data found on sites listed below in a centralized location.
  • USGS National Map, USGS Earth Explorer, and USGS GloVis - These USGS sites aggregate a large amount of data which can be spatially searched. The data includes topographic maps, aerial photos, elevation data, hydrology maps, and land cover.
  • USGS TopoView - While Earth Explorer provides current topographic maps, TopoView provides historical topographic maps.
  • USDA NRCS - The Natural Resource Conservation Service provides environmental and natural resources data.
  • Census TIGER - TIGER/Line files are extracts of selected geographic and cartographic information from the Census Bureau's TIGER (Topographically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing) database. The files have been converted to shapefile format by ESRI.
  • NHGIS - The National Historical Geographic Information System provides population, housing, agricultural, and economic data, along with GIS-compatible boundary files, for geographic units in the United States from 1790 to the present.
  • USFWS Geospatial Services - The hub of US Fish and Wildlife Service's GIS data.
  • NACJD - The National Archive of Criminal Justice Data disseminates data on crime and justice. Its datasets include the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), the FBI's National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), and the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN).


  • NASA EarthSearch - This is the first stop for any mapping that includes areas outside of the US.
  • GADM - The Global Administrative Areas is a spatial database of the location of the world's administrative areas (or administrative boundaries)
  • ACLED - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project is the most comprehensive public collection of political violence and protest data for developing states
  • ERP - Ethnic Power Relations (EPR) Dataset Family 2014 provides data on ethnic groups’ access to state power, their settlement patterns, links to rebel organizations, transborder ethnic kin relations, and intraethnic cleavages.
  • Humanitarian Data Exchange - The Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) is an open platform for sharing data. The goal of HDX is to make humanitarian data easy to find and use for analysis.
  • Natural Earth - Natural Earth is a public domain map dataset available at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110 million scales\
  • GeoNames - The GeoNames geographical database covers all countries and contains over eleven million placenames that are available for download free of charge.
  • CShapes - CShapes provides historical maps of state boundaries and capitals in the post-World War II period
  • OpenStreetMap Data Extracts - This site has worldwide data extracts from the OpenStreetMap project, which are normally updated every day.
  • UNEP Environmental Data Explorer - The United Nations Environment Programme is the authoritative source for data sets used in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report and other integrated environment assessments.
  • World Resource Institute - WRI is a global research organization which produces and curates worldwide data sets.