External Geospatial Data

Finding Geospatial Data on the Open Web

Many organizations make large collections of geospatial and other types of data available for free download online. However, it can be challenging to find these collections. Try these strategies for finding geospatial data on the open web:

  • Think about what kind of organization collects the data you are looking for. Data that is international in scope may be collected by an international agency like the United Nations, while data at the city level may be collected by the city government. Search the organization’s website with a phrase like “data download” if you can’t find an obvious link to data on the homepage.
  • Search a portal. Portals strive to be one-stop-shops for whatever kind of data they specialize in. For example, the GEO Data Portal collects data sets used by the United Nations Environment Programme. A number of useful portals are listed below.
  • Use Google to search for datasets by typing appropriate keywords along with GIS, data download, shapefile, .shp, and/or another word that describes your desired data format (like KML). For example, find Canadian soil datasets by typing the following into Google: Canada soil data shapefile.

Canada

  • Canadian GIS & Geomatics

    Owner: CanadianGIS.com

    This site contains links to Canadian Federal/Provincial/Municipal GIS data sources, kept current by people in the Geomatics Industry.
     

  • GeoGratis

    Owner: Natural Resources Canada

    If you are looking for any kind of Canadian geospatial data, you should start here. On this website you can find free maps, data, and publications to use without restriction. 

  • Geography Network

    Owner: ESRI Canada

    Search this portal to find and download free Canadian geospatial and other datasets from many different providers.

  • Geoscience Data Repository

    Owner: Earth Sciences Sector, Natural Resources Canada

    This site provides links to a collection of databases and services that allow the user to discover, view, and download a variety of free geoscience datasets, including geospatial datasets.

  • HYDAT

    Owner: Environment and Climate Change Canada

    HYDAT is a database the contains data from the various streamflow, water level, and sediment stations across Canada. Data include: daily and monthly means of flow, water levels and sediment concentrations (for sediment sites). For some sites, peaks and extremes are also recorded. Real time data is also available, see the Online Search section.

  • Open Government

    Owner: Government of Canada

    Looking for data about Government of Canada services, financials, national demographic information or high resolution maps? Discover that and more through our Open Data portal, your one-stop shop for Government of Canada open datasets. 

Ontario

  • Ontario Base Maps

    Owner: ESRI Canada

    Ontario Base Maps are available free from Geography Network Canada. Registration is required (must allow pop ups). Files are available in various formats including shapefiles or AutoCAD.

  • Ontario Topographical Maps

    Owner: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

    Customize your own topographical map in PDF format. The map shows topographic information, such as roads, trails, lakes, rivers, wooded areas, wetlands and provincial parks, as well as municipal and township boundaries. It has features similar to those on Google and Bing Maps that let you zoom in and out, find places and turn satellite imagery on or off. You can also add your own text and print the map you make.

  • Ontario Open Data

    Owner: Government of Ontario

    This is the Government of Ontario’s Open Data portal. It makes available a variety of free geospatial datasets for download.

  • Land Information Ontario (LIO)

    Owner: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

    Land Information Ontario manages Ontario’s Geospatial Data Exchange, which allows Ontario public sector organizations, including the University of Guelph, to share and use geospatial datasets free of charge. Search LIO’s Metadata Management Tool to find geospatial datasets, and then request these from the DRC by sending an email to drchelp@uoguelph.ca. Please keep in mind that we are not able to access all datasets listed in the Metadata Management Tool.

  • Grand River Information Network (GRIN)

    Owner: Grand River Conservation Authority

    This website makes available a variety of free geospatial datasets for download. All datasets are related to the Grand River and surrounding area. Registration is required.

  • Ontario Flow Assessment Tool (OFAT)

    Owner: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

    OFAT III is an online tool that calculates flow quantity estimation values and several intermediate outputs, such as watershed delineation and characterization.

    Using a base map, the OFAT III user defines a watershed drainage point on a mapped hydrology feature, such as a stream, river, or lake anywhere within the land boundary of Ontario, including Ontario's far north.

    OFAT III Instruction Manual (PDF - 1.5mb)

  • Historical Topographic Map Digitization Project

    Owner: Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL)

    Historical Topographic Map Digitization Project is a province-wide collaboration to inventory, digitize, georeference, and provide broad access to early topographic maps of Ontario. The collection provides open access to georeferenced topographic maps at the 1:25,000 and 1:63,360 (one inch to one mile) scales, covering towns, cities, and rural areas in Ontario over the period of 1906 to 1977

    Maps are also available though Scholars GeoPortal

Quebec

  • Données Ouvertes

    Owner: Gouvernement du Québec

    This is the Quebec government’s Open Data portal. It makes available a variety of geospatial datasets for free download. Please note that the website is in French only; Google Translate may be helpful for navigating the site.

Nova Scotia

  • GeoNOVA

    Owner: Government of Nova Scotia

    This portal makes available a variety of geospatial datasets for free download. Registration is required.

New Brunswick

  • GeoNB

    Owner: Government of New Brunswick

    This portal makes available a variety of geospatial datasets for free download.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Prince Edward Island

  • GIS Data Catalog

    Owner: Government of Prince Edward Island

    This website provides a list of geospatial datasets available both for free and for a fee.

Manitoba

  • Manitoba Land Initiative

    Owner: Government of Manitoba

    This portal makes available a variety of geospatial datasets for free download. Registration is required.

Saskatchewan

  • GIS.saskatchewan.ca

    Owner: Government of Saskatchewan

    Access to information, maps and web mapping applications

 

Alberta

  • GeoDiscover Alberta

    Owner: Government of Alberta

    Search this portal to find and download free geospatial datasets from many different providers.

British Columbia

  • DataBC

    Owner: Government of British Columbia

    This is the Government of British Columbia’s Open Data portal. Search the data catalogue to find a variety of free downloadable geospatial datasets.

Yukon

  • Geomatics Yukon

    Owner: Government of Yukon

    This portal makes available a variety of geospatial datasets for free download.

Northwest Territories

Nunavut

United States

  • Geo.Data.Gov

    Owner: United States Government

    This portal provides access to a vast number of geospatial datasets from across the federal government. Datasets are free to download.

International

  • OS Open Data

    Owner: UK Ordnance Survey

    Ordnance Survey is the United Kingdom's national mapping agency. This website provides access to a variety of free UK geospatial datasets.

  • Geoscience Australia - Free Data Downloads

    Owner: Australian Government

    This website provides access to a variety of free Australian geospatial datasets.

  • Geodata.Govt.NZ

    Owner: New Zealand Government

    Search this portal to find and download free New Zealand geospatial datasets from many different providers.

  • FAO//GeoNetwork

    Owner: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

    Search this portal to find and download free international geospatial datasets from many different providers.

  • GEO Data Portal

    Owner: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

    This portal makes available for download a wide variety of free international geospatial datasets that are used by UNEP and its partners.

  • Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC)

    Owner: US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    This website makes available a variety of free international geospatial datasets for download.

  • Atlas of the Biosphere

    Owner: Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE)

    This website makes available for download a variety of geospatial datasets showing global human impacts, land use, ecosystems, and water resources.

  • VDS Technologies Map Data

    Owner: VDS Technologies

    This website makes available for download a variety of free international datasets.