Geospatial Data Guide

Geospatial Data at Academic Data Centre

The Academic Data Centre provides support and resources for a variety of geospatial data to suit the teaching and research needs of faculty, staff and students. This guide describes some of the available geospatial datasets and how they can be accessed.

Where can you access geospatial data?

There are four main access points to geospatial data available through ADC:
  • Scholars GeoPortal
  • ADC Geospatial Data Explorer
  • Online Open Data Portals
  • Contact Us

1. Scholars GeoPortal

Scholars GeoPortal is an online data portal from the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) that offers search, discovery, visualize, and access to a variety of open and restricted (licensed) geospatial datasets covering Ontario and Canada. The geospatial data available from the portal can be downloaded and imported into GIS software for mapping and analysis purposes. Open datasets are accessible by all, while restricted datasets are available to students, faculty, and staff at Ontario universities (including UWindsor) for teaching and research purposes (non-commercial use only). You’ll have to login for off-campus access to restricted data using your UWindsor account.
See the Getting Started with Scholars GeoPortal video for an introduction, and the GeoPortal User Guide for detailed instruction for using the portal.

Note: Most geospatial datasets available from the Academic Data Centre can be accessed and downloaded directly using Scholars GeoPortal.

2. Academic Data Centre Geospatial Data Holdings

Some datasets restricted to University of Windsor affiliates are not available online. For these datasets, which includes data from the City of Windsor, Teranet parcel boundaries, and imagery, try searching the ADC Geospatial Data Holdings.

3. Open Data Portal

Additional datasets can be found online through various data portals, some of which are listed below. Many of these portals, particularly those of municipal, provincial, and federal governments, are making their data available under open data licenses.
City and County Data
Data Portal 
Web Application 
  • AgMaps - by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: provides mapping tools to build customized maps on assessment parcels, farm property tax parcels, Canada Land Inventory classes, soils, drainage and aerial imagery. 
  • Watershed flow assessment tool: allows users to creates watersheds, calculates watershed characteristics, executes hydrology models and reports water flow statistics. 
  • COSINE Retrieval (COSINE): view geodetic control monument locations in Ontario
  • Make a Map: Natural Heritage Areas: allows users to make a custom map of the various natural heritage areas in Ontario such as wetlands, woodlands, provincial parks etc. 
  • Forest Fire Info Map: provides a list of current fires in Ontario. 
Other Provinces/Territories
British Columbia 
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Northwest Territories
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • CanSIS (Canadian Soil Information System): provides access to soil and land resource information for Canada, including National Soil Database that contain soil, landscape, and climatic data for all of Canada.
Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Historical Climate Data: access historical weather, climate data, and related information for numerous locations across Canada.
  • Canadian Centre for Climate Services Climate Data: access data that help understand climate change. 
  • Canadian Wind Energy Atlas: contains colour maps representing the average wind velocity and power for the whole country, and corresponding geophysical characteristics as well as downloadable data files that were obtained from the simulations on the Canadian territory.
Natural Resources Canada
  • Topographic Information: access topographic maps, data, applications and tools produced by NRC. You can also use this Download Directory and Documentation page to access data. 
  • Canadian Geographic Names: provides a number of products and services related to geographical names. 
  • Earth Sciences Tools and Applications: access to scientific publications of the Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) of Natural Resources Canada. A series of maps and geospatial data are available for download.
  • Canadian National Seismographic Network: Canadian earthquake data.
  • Water Survey of Canada:provides various historical and real-time hydrometric data for Canada.
  • GEOSCAN: bibliographic database for scientific publications of Natural Resources Canada including records primarily of the Earth Sciences (Geological Survey of Canada publications, National Atlas maps, Topographic maps, Remote sensing and geodesy publications) and is continually growing with records on Mining, Materials and Energy.
  • National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI): provides Information on pollutant releases, disposals and transfers for recycling reported by facilities, and their latitude and longitude coordinates. Downloadable formats include databases, spreadsheets and map layers. 
Statistics Canada 
  • Canadian Census Geography: provides access to information on a wide range of census geographic areas (from provinces and territories down to city blocks) which allows users to relate census data to them.
  • More information about Census Data, see Canadian Census Data Guide
United States
General US Federal Government 
Key US Federal Agencies (A-Z)
Census BureauDepartment of Agriculture
  • USDA Geospatial Data Gateway: one stop source for environmental and natural resources data from USDA and other federal agencies.
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services Soil Survey: provides various data and tools for U.S. soil survey tabular and geospatial information, including Web Soil Survey, Soil GeographySoil Data Access.
  • USDA Economic Research Service Food Access Research Atlas: provides data on food accessibility at the census tract level. 
  • Forest Service Geodata Clearinghouse: an online collection of datasets related to forests and grasslands, including boundaries and ownership, natural resources, roads and trails, as well as datasets related to State and private forested areas, including insect and disease threat and surface water importance.
  • CropScape - National Agricultural Statistics Service Cropland Data Layer: contains cropland data layers from 1997 to 2010. Data is downloadable and the interface is user-friendly.
  • PRISM Climate Group: gathers climate observations from a wide range of monitoring networks, applies sophisticated quality control measures, and develops spatial climate datasets to reveal short- and long-term climate patterns. The resulting datasets incorporate a variety of modeling techniques and are available at multiple spatial/temporal resolutions, covering the period from 1895 to the present.
Department of Labor 
  • Overview of Bureau of Labor (BLS) Statistics by Geography: Most BLS programs publish data at the national level. Some programs also publish data for smaller geographic areas, allowing focus on regional, state, or local trends. This site lists specific BLS data availability by geographic coverage. This online tool allows users to select a particular state/region/area to see BLS statistics. 
Department of EducationDepartment of Health & Human ServicesDepartment of Homeland SecurityDepartment of Housing and Urban Development Department of JusticeDepartment of the Interior Department of Transportation Energy Information Agency (EIA)Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • EPA Geospatial Resources: a centralized location to discover and access EPA geospatial data and applications.
  • Geospatial Download Service: provides downloadable files of those facilities or sites subject to environmental regulation.
  • eGRID (Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database): a comprehensive source of data from EPA's Clean Air Markets Division on the environmental characteristics of almost all electric power generated in the U.S. 
  • Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program: access to data on toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
  • Geospatial Data Science Data and Tools:  GIS data relating to renewable energy in the US (wind speeds, wave energy, solar potential). 
  • Renewable Energy Data Explorer (REexplorer): geospatial analysis tool for visualizing and analyzing renewable energy potential in selected non-US countries, most of which can be downloaded as GIS files. 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS) GIS: links to GIS maps and data about Arctic research.
  • National Park Service Data: provides GIS data and applications on U.S. national parks.
  • National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC): a national organization is dedicated to GIS advocacy and the adoption of geospatial information technologies.
  • NatureServe: This non-profit conservation organization is a partnership of different entities providing extensive GIS data and applications on the status and location of species and ecosystems. 
  • Open Topography: provides access to high-resolution topographic and bathymetric data for scientific, environmental, engineering and planning purposes. A great resource for accessing global LiDAR, DEM products. You can also generate derivative products such as hillshade and slope. You can also clip the data to return only an area of interest.
Michigan State Data
Government Data Portals 
Basemap Data and Broad Collections
  • Aid Data (GeoQuery): can find and integrate sub-national data — satellite, conflict, aid, economic, health and more — from anywhere in the world into a single simple-to-use spreadsheet. 
  • ArcGIS Hub: provides international datasets pertaining to a multitude of topics.
  • CShapes: maps the borders and capitals of independent states and dependent territories from 1886 to 2019. The dataset can be downloaded in various formats and is also accessible through the CShapes R package.
  • DIVA GIS: A comprehensive and great starting point for files on administrative boundaries, water, roads, railroads, elevation, landcover, population, climate and a gazetteer for almost every country in the world.
  • Esri Data and Maps: a collection of data layers, including a variety of basemap and thematic layers for the United States, Europe, and the world. There is commercial data from TomTom, Michael Bauer Research, Garmin, and Esri; federal data from the U.S. Census, The National Map Small Scale (formerly National Atlas of the United States), U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Geographic Names Information System (GNIS); and data from the United Nations.
  • European Union Open Data Portal: provides access to open data from international, EU, national, regional, local and geo data portals.
  • Eurostat: contains core geographical data covering the whole of Europe, such as administrative boundaries, and thematic geospatial information, such as population grid data.
  • GADM Global Administrative Areas: a spatial database of the location of the world's administrative boundaries for use in GIS and similar software.
  • Natural Earth: provide worldwide coverage GIS data at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110m scales.
  • Ordnance Survey Open Data: Ordnance Survey is Great Britain's national mapping agency. Several datasets are available for free download.
  • SEDAC (Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center)at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) (Columbia University): access to worldwide natural and social science data.
  • UNEP Environmental Data Explorer: from the United Nations Environment Programme. Files types as labeled "geospatial" will be rasters. Most other files will be data in tabular format with a locational attribute (country name, etc.).
  • World Resources Institute (WRI) Data: provides a wide variety of data, mostly relating to WRI projects on cities, climate, energy, food, forests, the ocean, and water around the world. 
Data Portals for Natural Environments
ArcticBiota & Species 
  • Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Data Portal: access to georeferenced data of biota species occurrence around the globe. 
  • NatureServe: one-stop access to the data on the status and location of species and ecosystems, which includes distribution of birds and mammals of the western hemisphere, amphibians of the world, and U.S. fishes by watershed.
  • Protected Planet: the authoritative source of data on protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). Users can explore the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), World Database on OECMs, Global Database on Protected Area Management Effectiveness (GD-PAME), and a wealth of associated information. Start by exploring the interactive maps on the home page, or any of Protected Planet's nine thematic areas.
  • ReefBase GIS Dataset: provides GIS data on coral reefs and environmental threats to them around the world.
  • ESA-CCI (European Space Agency - Climate Change Initiative): free and open access to all CCI Essential Climate Variable data products, including aerosols, biomass, clouds, fires/burned areas, greenhouse gases, glaciers, Antarctic ice sheet, Greenland ice sheet, lakes, land cover, high res land cover, ocean color, ozone, permafrost, sea salinity, sea ice, sea level, sea temperature, snow, soil moisture, and more.
  • Climate Hazards Center at UCSB: provides a variety of key data sets to make informed decisions as they relate to climate early warning. The CHIRPS dataset includes worldwide rainfall data rasters at .05-degree resolution covering back to 1981, at detailed time intervals. Compiled from both remote sensing as well as station data. 
  • Renewable Energy Data Explorer (RE Explorer): Online mapping tool for visualizing energy-related map layers from selected non-US countries, most of which can be downloaded as GIS files.
  • Geoscience Australia: provides a multitude of data, online tools, maps and publications pertaining to Australia’s geology and geography.
Land Cover
  • Globcover - European Space Agency (ESA): an ESA initiative which aimed  to develop a service capable of delivering global composites and land cover maps using as input observations from the 300m MERIS sensor on board the ENVISAT satellite mission. ESA makes available the land cover maps, which cover 2 periods: December 2004 - June 2006 and January - December 2009.
  • GlobeLand30 (National Geomatics Center of China) Worldwide land cover data in 30-meter resolution raster files (GeoTIFF). Coded for ten broad classes of land cover.
  • Harmonized World Soil Database: provides a 30 arc-second raster database with over 15000 different soil mapping units that combine existing regional and national updates of soil information worldwide.
  • ISRIC - World Soil Information: access soil data from the International Soil Reference and Information Centre.
  • The European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC): contains currently many soil data and information; most of the offered data are at European scale, while, when possible, links to national or global datasets are provided. 
  • GEBCO (General Bathymatric Chart of the Ocean): access to bathymetry data of the world's oceans.
  • HydroSHEDS Worldwide Hydrology data (World Wildlife Federation): geo-referenced data sets (vector & raster) at various scales, including river networks, watershed boundaries, drainage directions, and flow accumulations. The data is based on high-resolution elevation data obtained during a Space Shuttle flight for NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM).
  • includes data and links to datasets such as maritime boundaries, ecosystems, gazetteers of names, and bathymetry. 
  • National Oceanographic Database (British Oceanographic Data Centre): a collection of marine data sets maintained by BODC including acoustics, bathymetry, currents, meteorology, optical properties, sea level, water column temperature and chemistry, and waves.
  • UNEP GEMStat: The Global Freshwater Quality Database provides scientifically-sound data and information on the state and trend of global inland water quality. 
  • GIS Data & Resources at the National Snow & Ice Data Center: a developing a repository of GIS-compatible snow, ice, and frozen ground data for research and planning.
Data Portals for Social Environments 
  • China Historical GIS (Harvard University): a database of populated places, historical place names and historical administrative units for the period of Chinese history between 221 BCE and 1911 CE.
  • CGIAR-CSI (CGIAR Consortium for Spatial Information): includes links to detailed SRTM elevation data, soil, water, crops datasets.
  • Commercial Real Estate Information and Construction Data (Emporis): offers information about buildings for various cities worldwide. Details such as construction date/status, building height, and number of floors are included.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations: Geospatial Information for Sustainable Food Systems: provides links to data and applications that focus on issues like agriculture production, water governance, forest management, climate change monitoring, ecosystems and biodiversity protection, emergencies and disasters management. 
  • FEWS Net (Famine Early Warning Systems Network): access to data and maps detailing current and projected food insecurity around the world. 
  • Geofabrik: offers excerpts and derived data from the OpenStreetMap dataset available for free download. Most of these files are updated every day.
  • LandScan: Oak Ridge National Laboratory's LandScan is a 30x30 arc-second (approximately 1 km) gridded population of the world and it represents an ambient population (average over 24 hours) distribution. The database is refreshed annually with new versions released in Q3 of each calendar year.
  • IPUMS International: provides census and survey data from around the world integrated across time and space. It also has GIS boundary files to use in conjunction with its microdata. 
  • OurAirports Data: a community-assisted project provides bulk data (including geospatial information) detailing airports and runways, plus listings of airport radio frequencies and global navigation aids around the world. 
  • World Bank Group DataBank: an analysis and visualisation tool that contains collections of time series data on a variety of topics. You can create your own queries; generate tables, charts, and maps; and easily save, embed, and share them.
Send us a message 

Your Contact

Carina Luo's picture
Geospatial & Data Analyst
(519) 253-3000 ext.3179
Leddy Library - 103 West Building