GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS)
Welcome to the subject guide for Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This guide will help you with understanding what GIS is and where to find geographic data, GIS software, training, consultations, textbooks, news, blogs, jobs, and other cartography and spatial analysis resources.
What is GIS?
A geographic information system (GIS) is a conceptual framework for gathering, managing, displaying, and analyzing geographic data. GIS software applications are computer-based tools, that allow users to analyze spatial relationships, patterns, and trends. An interdisciplinary field of study, GIS brings together researchers from all backgrounds embarking on projects that require geospatial technologies to tell stories and answer research questions.
GIS CONSULTATIONS & TRAINING
Michele Gandy, GIS Laboratory Manager is available to answer any of your GIS-related questions. She currently manages the GIS Lab in the Mendel Science Center and teaches GIS courses for the Department of Geography and the Environment. Villanova University currently subscribes to an Enterprise site license for Esri's ArcGIS software products and services. This includes access to Esri Academy, a suite of online GIS seminars and tutorials. If you would like to get access to Villanova's campus site license, please contact Michele to set you up with an account.
Erica Hayes, Digital Scholarship Librarian has worked on a number of digital projects featuring GIS maps. She has created GIS maps using ArcGIS Online, Esri Story Maps, StoryMap JS, Leaflet JS, Mapbox, Neatline, and QGIS. She teaches workshops on GIS mapping and is available for consultations and training at Falvey Library's Digital Scholarship Lab.
Merill Stein is the Subject Liaison Librarian for the Department of Geography and the Environment. He is available for consultations on GIS research and can connect you to GIS data and other geography resources. Check out the Geography and the Environment subject guide for more information.
Local Data (cities and counties)
Chester County GIS Hub
Maps and GIS data for download, including parcels, hydrology, and transportation. Delaware County GIS
Information on obtaining/purchasing Delaware County GIS data. Montgomery County Geospatial Hub
Montgomery County’s official published GIS data and applications. OpenDataPhilly
OpenDataPhilly is a portal that provides access to over 100 data sets, applications, and APIs related to the Philadelphia region. OpenDataPhilly includes both municipal and non-municipal data and enables users to search for and locate data sets based on keyword and category searches.
Regional Data (Delaware Valley and adjacent states)
Delaware River Basin Land Use Dynamics
High-resolution LIDAR-based land cover data and development forecasting data for the Delaware River basin created by Shippensburg University and the University of Vermont. Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
Spatial data on land use, economic development, transportation, and more for Chester, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, and Philadelphia Counties in PA and Mercer, Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties in NJ. Includes original Commission spatial data, as well as partner data, including the US Census Bureau and other federal agencies. FirstMap Delaware
Repository of open Delaware geospatial data, including biota, boundaries, parcels, transportation, and more. Maryland iMap
Large collection of Maryland spatial data including imagery, emergency management, agriculture, health, and demographics. Maintained by MD’s Geographic Information Office. NJ Department of Environmental Protection Open Data
Web maps and data relating to the environment, geology, hydrography, structure, utilities, and more. NJ Geographic Information Network Open Data
Open NJ spatial data, including imagery and elevation data. Founded by the NJ Office of Information Technology
State Data (PA)
PA Cultural Resources Geographic Information System
Inventory of historic and archaeological sites and surveys stored in the PA State Historic Preservation Office. PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Open Data
PA datasets related to states parks, state forests, geology, and recreational opportunities. PA Department of Environmental Protection Open Data Portal
Non-sensitive GIS data, including mine lands, air quality, water pollution, hazardous waste, oil/gas, and water. Penn Pilot
Online library of digital historical aerial photography for PA. Download non-georeferenced photos from 1937-1942 and 1967-1972. Sponsored by the PA Geological Survey. PennDOT Open Data
All published GIS data relating to roads, bridges, airports, railways, transportation safety, and more. Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access (PASDA)
Pennsylvania's official public access geospatial information clearinghouse. PASDA was developed as a research and outreach program by the Pennsylvania State University as a service to the citizens, governments, and businesses of the Commonwealth.
Data portal of satellite imagery, including Landsat, Sentinel, and IKONOS. Also includes aerial photos. FEMA GIS Portal
GIS data on earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and wildfires. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Geospatial Platform
Public and trusted geospatial data for the US, including data from NOAA, DOI, FEMA, NASA, and more. Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data
National foundation-level geospatial data within the open public domain that can be useful to support community preparedness, resiliency, research, and more. National Historical GIS
Provides access to summary tables and time series of population, housing, agriculture, and economic data, along with GIS-compatible boundary files, for years from 1790 through the present and for all levels of U.S. census geography, including states, counties, tracts, and blocks. National Land Cover Database (NLCD)
30-meter resolution land cover data at the national scale generated by the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium. National Weather Service GIS Portal
Past, current, and forecasted weather spatial data, including precipitation, hazardous weather, sea surface temperature, runoff, and river flood outlook. PolicyMap
Offers a tool for mapping and analyzing U.S. national data on a wide variety of topics including education, income, employment, public health, crime, housing, transit, and more. Researchers can conduct demographic and socioeconomic analyses on a variety of geographic levels, from the national level to the neighborhood census block group as well as custom regions. Time series data covers 2000 to present. Social Explorer
Provides access to maps and tables of U.S. Census and American Community Survey data from 1790 through most recently released data. Also includes datasets on election, health, crime, religion, and environmental topics, as well as some international data (UK Census 2011; Canadian Census 2011; selected Eurostat data; and World Development Indicators from the World Bank.) Create a free personal account in order to save your work. The National Map Viewer (USGS)
Topographic information for the entire country. Includes boundaries, imagery, elevation (LIDAR and DEM) and USGS topo maps. US Census Bureau Geography Program
Official repository of GIS data related to population, demographics, and TIGER data. US Fish & Wildlife Service National GIS Data
USFWS national GIS data including critical habitats, ecosystem regions, migratory birds, National Wetlands Inventory (NWI), and refuge boundaries. USDA Geospatial Data Gateway
Federal repository of environmental and natural resources data, including access to NAIP aerial imagery. USGS Water Resources
Wide variety of spatial products related to water resources, including hydrologic units, water tables, stream flows, and water contamination.
Copernicus Open Access Hub
Free and open access to Sentinel satellite user products. ESRI Living Atlas of the World
Collection of authoritative, ready-to-use global geographic information from Esri. Includes imagery, basemaps, demographics and lifestyle, landscape, boundaries and places, transportation, earth observations, urban systems, oceans, and historical maps. FAO GeoNetwork
Open GIS datasets, interactive maps, and satellite imagery, including data on political boundaries, agriculture, human health, forestry, infrastructure, and soils. Google Earth Engine
Multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities for scientists, researchers, and developers. Requires user to create a free account. IPUMS Terra
Integrates population census data from around the world with global environmental data, allowing users to obtain customized datasets that incorporate data from multiple sources in a single coherent structure. NASA Earth Observations
Data from satellites to help analyze climate and environmental change, including water vapor, aerosols, radiation, active fires, ocean chlorophyll, and more. NASA EarthData
Earth science data from various sources including satellites, aircraft, field measurements, and multiple other programs. These capabilities include generation of higher level (Level 1-4) science data products for EOS missions; archiving and distribution of data products from EOS and other satellite missions, as well as aircraft and field measurement campaigns. Natural Earth
Public domain map dataset, free for public use in any type of project. Includes administrative, hydrographic, and general land information. OpenStreetMap
Free editable map of the world. Provides free geospatial data for anybody to use and share. OpenTopography
Facilitates community access to high-resolution, Earth science-oriented, topography data, and related tools and resources TNC Geospatial Conservation Atlas
Includes web maps, apps, a map gallery, local initiative portals, conservation data, and other resources. Contains geospatial content on water, lands, marine, climate, ecosystem services, and cities. USGS GloVis
Free access to remotely sensed data (Landsat, ASTER, SRTM DEMs, and others) across the world. Free to create an account in order to download data tiles. United Nations Environment Programme Data Explorer
Authoritative source for data sets used by UNEP and its partners in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report and other integrated environment assessments. Its online database holds more than 500 different variables, as national, sub-regional, regional and global statistics or as geospatial data sets, covering themes like Freshwater, Population, Forests, Emissions, Climate, Disasters, Health and GDP.
Brewer, Cynthia A. Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users. Second edition. Redlands, California: Esri Press, 2016. Falvey print book.
Bodenhamer, David J. John Corrigan, and Trevor M Harris. The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010.
Dunn, Stuart E. A History of Place In the Digital Age. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2019.
Field, Kenneth. Cartography: A Compendium of Design Thinking for Mapmakers. Redlands, California: Esri Press, 2018.
Fu, Pinde. Getting to Know Web GIS. Redlands, California: Esri Press, 2018.
Green, Kass, and Russel G. Congalton, Mark Tukman. Imagery and GIS: Best Practices for Extracting Information from Imagery. Redlands, Calif: ESRI Press, 2017.
Gregory, Ian N., and A Geddes. Toward Spatial Humanities: Historical GIS and Spatial History. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2014.
Falvey JSTOR e-book.
Knowles, Anne Kelly., and Amy Hillier. Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship. Redlands, Calif.: ESRI Press, 2008. Falvey print book.
Krygier, John,, and Denis Wood. Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS. Third edition. New York: The Guilford Press, 2016.
Falvey ProQuest unlimited access e-book.
Law, Michael, and Amy Collins. Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop. Redlands, Calif.: ESRI Press, 2018.
Law, Michael, and Amy Collins. Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro. Redlands, Calif.: ESRI Press, 2019.
Longley, Paul, and Michael F. Goodchild, David J. Maguire, David W. Rhind. Fourth edition. Geographic Information Systems and Science. Chichester: Wiley, 2015.
Monmonier, Mark S. How to Lie with Maps. Third edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.
Peterson, Gretchen N. Cartographer's Toolkit: Colors, Typography, Patterns. Fort Collins, Colo.: PetersonGIS, 2012.
Snyder, John Parr. Map Projections--A Working Manual. Washington: Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 1987.
Travis, Charles. Abstract Machine: Humanities GIS. First edition. Redlands, California: Esri Pres, 2015. Falvey ProQuest unlimited access e-book.
Provides access to Esri publications, news, press coverage, and videos. GISuser
Owned and operated by spatial Media LLC, Frederick, MD. Spatial Media maintains several Technology publications, portals and magazines including: GISuser, LBSzone, Amerisurv, LiDAR Magazine, MachineControlOnline, and GeoJobs.BIZ. Geospatial Solutions News
Provides breaking news on the use of geographic information systems (GIS) for all industries that use geospatial data. Areas covered include Big Data, desktop and mobile GIS, Earth imaging, use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), policy news and the state of the geospatial industry. Geospatial World
Offers online, video, print magazine, social media, and custom content creation and marketing strategies on the latest geospatial technology trends and analysis, along with views of experts and advocacy on policy issues.
Adventures in Mapping
Blog by John Nelson, a cartographer in the Content team at Esri, discussing how he makes creative and engaging maps by manipulating spatial data in fun and interesting ways. ArcGIS Blog
Features blog posts and articles on ArcGIS best practices, software patches, website maintenance, and how ArcGIS can be used to accomplish GIS analysis. GIS Geography
A blog about Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geography. The mission of the blog is to produce relevant articles on the uses and science of remote sensing and GIS. Joseph Kerski’s blog
A blog by Joseph Kerski, PhD, geographer and education manager with Esri, discussing spatial awareness and geography. Maps Mania
A blog dedicated to tracking the very best digital interactive maps on the internet and the tools used to create them. Spatially Adjusted
Features blog posts published by James Fee on geographic information systems. James Fee has written over 400,000 words on Spatially Adjusted since May 2005 and over 2,300 articles. The Map Room
This blog covers a broad range of topics, including antique map collecting and the latest geospatial technology. Started by Jonathan Crowe in March 2003, the Map Room ran for more than eight years and amassed more than four thousand posts on mapping and GIS.
GIS Software & Tools
The latest professional desktop GIS application from Esri. With ArcGIS Pro, you can explore, visualize, and analyze data; create 2D maps and 3D scenes; and share your work to your ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise portal. ArcGIS Story Maps
Based on the classic Esri Story Map templates, ArcGIS Story Maps provides a new, modern platform for telling stories with maps, text, images, and other media. Esri Story Maps
Esri Story Maps let you combine ArcGIS Online maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content. They make it easy to harness the power of maps and geography to tell your story. Users can create maps using multiple Esri Story Map templates, such as the Swiper, SpyGlass, Shortlist, Journal, and Cascade templates. GIS & Remote Sensing - Geodata.gov
Your one-stop shop for federal, state & local geographic data. GRASS GIS
Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) is a geographic information system software suite used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, producing graphics and maps, spatial and temporal modeling, and visualizing. It can handle raster, topological vector, image processing, and graphic data. Geojson.io
A tool for editing GeoJSON data on the internet. It enables editing through a map interface, raw GeoJSON, and exporting and importing a large number of formats. Georeferencer
A proprietary online georeferencing tool that assigns geographical location to any image. Georeferencer is used by the David Rumsey Historical Maps collection and Old Maps Online. Leaflet
Developed by Tim Waters, Map Warper is a free to use, open source map georectifier and image georeferencer tool for individuals and small groups. Map Warper has been by organizations like the New York Public Library. MapHub
A mapping platform that allows you to create, share and collaborate on interactive maps online. Mapbox
A tool for topologically aware shape simplification. Reads and writes Shapefile, GeoJSON and TopoJSON formats. Maptiler
Mapping platform designed for quick publishing of zoomable maps online for web applications, mobile devices and 3D visualisations. Neatline
A geotemporal exhibit-builder that allows you to create beautiful, complex maps, image annotations, and narrative sequences from Omeka collections of archives and artifacts, and to connect your maps and narratives with timelines that are more-than-usually sensitive to ambiguity and nuance. Open Layers
An open source software program that adds support for geographic objects to the PostgreSQL object-relational database. PostGIS follows the Simple Features for SQL specification from the Open Geospatial Consortium. Technically PostGIS was implemented as a PostgreSQL external extension. QGIS
A free and open-source cross-platform desktop geographic information system that supports viewing, editing, and analysis of geospatial data. QGIS Cloud
This web-GIS platform allows you to publish your spatial data and QGIS maps on the internet without having to set up a server or infrastructure. SAGA
A free and open-source geographic information system (GIS) used for editing spatial data. Developed by a small team in the Department of Physical Geography at the University of Gottingen, Germany, the software is intended to give scientists an effective but easily learnable platform for implementing geoscientific methods. Stamen Maps
Open-source layers and designs for displaying maps available for reuse. These map layers and styles were created by Stamen, a San Francisco development studio focused on data visualization and map making. Stamen heavily uses OpenStreetMap data for displaying and creating maps and visuals. Story Map JS
A free tool developed by Northwestern University's Knight Lab to help you tell stories on the web that highlight the locations of a series of events. gvSIG
A desktop geographic information system (GIS) designed for capturing, storing, handling, analyzing and deploying any kind of referenced geographic information in order to solve complex management and planning problems.
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
The David Rumsey Map Collection has over 100,000 maps and related images online. The collection includes rare 16th through 21st-century maps of America, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific, Arctic, Antarctic, and the World. The David Rumsey Map collection uses Georeferencer, an application added to their online library that allows you to overlay historic maps on top of modern maps.
The overlaid maps reveal historic changes over time and enable many kinds of analysis and discovery. Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network
The purpose of the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network is to gather geographic materials useful for the study of historic Philadelphia and its region. This site contains thousands of georeferenced old maps, property atlases, city directories, industrial site surveys, and other items documenting the history and development of the city from the 1600s through today. NYPL Map Warper
Features georeferenced maps from the New York Public Library. The NYPL Map Warper is a tool for digitally aligning ("rectifying") historical maps from the NYPL's collections to match today's precise maps. Visitors can browse already rectified maps or assist the NYPL by aligning a map. National Library of Scotland Map images
Features georeferenced maps date between 1560 and 1964 that relate primarily to Scotland. The site also includes maps of areas beyond Scotland, including maps of England and Great Britain, Ireland, Belgium, and Jamaica.
This forum provides a space for the Esri Community—customers, partners, Esri staff, and others in the GIS and geospatial professional community to connect, collaborate, and share experiences. Esri User Conference Virtual Map Gallery
This online gallery features innovative GIS maps created by the Esri global community. GIS Lounge
Started by Caitlin Dempsey, this information portal provides news items, tips, and technical resources for the geospatial field. GIS Stack Exchange
Offers a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals working with GIS software.
GIS Job Boards
A space for GIS professionals to post GIS jobs. Job seekers can post their resumes for free on their website. GIS Jobs Clearinghouse
Started in 1992, the GJC has helped thousands of GIS/RS professionals find positions in geographic information systems. With hundreds of positions in the GJC database, there are a number of resources for both employers and job seekers. My GIS Jobs
A forum for GIS professionals to discover employment opportunities in the United States in GIS, remote sensing, and related geospatial fields.