GEOG 488
Acquiring and Integrating Geospatial Data

Lesson 3: Locating and Acquiring Data


Introduction: Locating, Acquiring and Extracting Data from Online Sources

When any GIS project is first undertaken, a review of the data resources is often necessary. That is the approach you've been taking in your individual final projects. Now that you've begun to assess the availability of data in your local area, you can broaden your search to include online clearinghouses. Depending on the scope and scale of the final project, clearinghouses may or may not be a good source. Using data from clearinghouses can raise legal and ethical problems related to data accuracy and data use. In the first part of this module, you will be introduced to a scenario from a former student. You will browse clearinghouses and look for data for your own area. In the second part of the module, do a data inventory for your area. We will then look at the legal and ethical implications of using the data you have found.

A. Goals

Upon completion of this module, you will be able to acquire your own data from online clearinghouses and will be able to recognize potential legal and ethical problems related to data use.

B. Background

Data is becoming more widely available on the web these days as users and GIS developers share and publish data. Many layers of data are too costly for an individual or corporation to record, produce, or maintain themselves. For this kind of data, often at the national scale, it is imperative that it be acquired from public sources. The U.S., unlike many countries, freely provides national data. It is this freedom of access to data acquired by tax expenditures that has prompted the enormous growth in the spatial industries.

C. Module Overview

  1. Find and acquire GIS data using online clearinghouses
  2. Recognize potential errors, and legal or ethical problems related to data use
  3. Frustration, about now in Problem Based Learning a considerable amount of frustration might be building up because contacts and ideas are not responding. Do not become disheartened by this as this is normal. Remember that in Problem Based Learning the process is more important than the product. If you need to change course projects or modify what you had planned, do not worry I will take this into account. Remember to document your efforts and keep me informed. Contact me directly if you feel the need to discuss your plans in person. Sometimes a few words are worth a ton of emails

D. Deliverables

This module is one week in length. Please refer to the course Calendar tab, in ANGEL, for the due date.

Please see the Deliverables section at the end of Part II for this week's readings and action items.