- CUGIR does not have an extensive collection of planning related data sets, though it does include some for Tompkins County. Try contacting the planning agency for the county or local government you are interested in. The NYS Office of Real Property Services and NYS GIS Clearinghouse may also be helpful.
- Because our data is freely available online, we don't burn data to disk for users. CUGIR users do have the option of downloading multiple files at once (120MB limit).
- CUGIR only offers Digital Raster Graphic (DRG) files, scanned topographic maps. Those in the CUGIR collection have had their collars and legends cropped out to facilitate use in a GIS. These and all other data sets are freely available to anyone to download (and print) from our site. Unfortunately, we don't provide paper copies of datasets. You may order paper copies of maps from the USGS Store. The USGS also offers free "GeoPDF" copies of topo maps from the USGS Store using the Map Locator. If you are looking for NYS DRGs with map collars and legends intact, the NYS GIS Clearinghouse has them.
The metadata associated with a data file will many times include information related to attributes values, codes and methods for derivation. You should also find information on where to go for more documentation or who to contact with questions.
Two sources of additional information on Census data are:
- http://www.census.gov/geo/www/index.html, the Census Bureau's Geography web page,
- CUGIR's index page to Census technical documentation
- Our repository only contains a few building and infrastructure datasets, mostly limited to Tompkins County. You might try contacting the local or county planning department for the area you are interested in.
- CUGIR does not currently offer contour data in a vector format (e.g. Digital Line Graph, or DLG), but you can generate contours from DEMs (Digital Elevation Models) with some programs. Our DRG (Digital Raster Graphic) data does include contour lines in a raster image format. Please consult the help or manuals for the software being used for assistance.
We do not have flood or hazard related data in our repository. County-wide data are available from the New York State GIS Clearinghouse. Maps can also be viewed and ordered from the FEMA Map Service at http://msc.fema.gov/. Portions of flood maps (called FIRMettes) can be extracted, saved and printed for free using the FEMA MSC Viewer.
- The US Census bureau releases frequent updates to its TIGER/LINE files. Beginning with the 2000 census, CUGIR adopted a policy of only providing decadal updates to census data sets, with selected demographic data from the census short-form (SF 1). Data users who need the most current TIGER/LINE files are encouraged to obtain data directly from the Census Bureau website.
CUGIR has zip code boundaries for Tompkins County only.
The NYS GIS Clearinghouse has NYS Zip Codes, a point and vector boundary file of zip codes in New York State.
The census approximates zip code areas with their zip code tabulations areas (ZCTAs). ZCTAs can be downloaded from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 TIGER/Line Shapefiles website.
- We do not offer FTP access to data, nor are we likely to offer that because of security reasons. We do offer the means for downloading multiple files zipped together in a single download however (120MB limit). See the CUGIR Help section on Selecting and Downloading Data from CUGIR for more information.
- We are always looking for new and useful data to include in the CUGIR collection. You may contact the Project Manager, Keith Jenkins at email@example.com for more information.
The CUGIR web mapping application is temporarily unavailable as a result of a hardware failure. We don't know when we'll have these services up and running again, and apologize for the inconvenience.
If you do not have GIS software available, another option for creating maps is to download the data you want to map, and find a free software application that will allow you to create your own. You can find a list of links in our GIS Tools: Freeware and Shareware section of CUGIR help.
- You can use the Browse by Map option for finding quad data. First zoom into the county you are interested in, then look at the underlying town boundaries to orient yourself. Click on the quad that covers the area needed, and you will be brought to a list of all data available for that geographic region. CUGIR also offers a method of searching using USGS Geographic Names Information System gazetteer data for New York State. In the upper right search box enter the place name for the area you are interested in. You may also do a geographic features search using the more options link below the search box.
- In order to import and view DEMs, some software applications (e.g. ArcInfo and ArcGIS) require a conversion step first. Please see the File Formats and GIS Software Compatibility section of CUGIR help.
- Compressed files need to be uncompressed before they can be viewed or imported into a GIS. Please see the Compressed Files section of CUGIR Help.
- The NYS GIS Clearinghouse has some data on New York State public land boundaries. Some data sets are available only to members of the data cooperative, so you may need to contact the data owner directly. Cornell community members can use the Contact CUGIR form to request assistance from Mann Library in obtaining this data.
- SSURGO data digitizing and updating is ongoing. A Soil Data Availability map is available from the NRCS. CUGIR periodically checks for SSURGO updates to see if there are any new additions. For the most recent list of available data sets, check the NRCS Soil Data Mart site. If your area of interest is still not covered, you can use the STATSGO generalized statewide soils coverage available from CUGIR, if that meets your needs.
- Files with an .e00 extension are in Arc Interchange, or Export format. Some GIS software requires a separate conversion process before the contents can be successfully viewed or imported. Please see the e00 Data Formats or File Formats and GIS Software Compatibility section in CUGIR help.
- Much of the data we receive for CUGIR comes from New York state agencies that are focused on New York State. In some cases the data files are missing areas that fall outside of or along the state borders. You may be able to find data covering these missing sections from neighboring states data repositories. A list of these can be found at geolode.org.
- Minor civil divisions (MCDs) are the primary governmental or administrative divisions of a county. In New York State this includes towns. More information can be found on the Census Bureau's "Understanding Census Geography" web page.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds allow you to subscribe to news about the latest CUGIR updates. Popular feed readers include Google Reader; others are listed at Wikipedia's Comparison of feed aggregators.
To add CUGIR news to your RSS reader, copy the URL of the CUGIR news feed, and add it as a new subscription in your feed reader.
CUGIR doesn't have aerial photos or other types of imagery in its collection. Some options for air photos and orthoimagery include:
- The New York State GIS Clearinghouse has downloadable orthoimagery of New York State. The same imagery is also available from the USGS Seamless Data Distribution System
- New York State Historical Aerial Photographs has imagery for selected counties, going back to the 1930's.
- The USDA Aerial Photography Field Office sells aerial photos: http://www.apfo.usda.gov
- County Farm Service Agency or Natural Resources Conservation Service offices sometimes have collections of air photos (click your county for contact info): http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=ny&agency=fsa
- The Global Land Cover Facility (GLCF) develops and distributes (for free) remotely sensed satellite data and products concerned with land cover from the local to global scales.
- CUGIR does not currently offer bathymetric data. The NY Ocean and Great Lake Atlas at http://nyoglatlas.org/ is one place to find ocean and Great Lakes area data. Zoom into the area you are interested in and select/open the Elevation layer to see and download available data. NOAA also offers data at http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/bathymetry/relief.html.
CUGIR has a small collection of municipal boundary data, limited to Tompkins County. Try contacting the local planning department for the area you are interested in. The NYS GIS Clearinghouse also has some boundary data. Some data sets are available only to members of the data cooperative, so you may need to contact the data owner directly. Cornell community members can use the Contact CUGIR form to request assistance from Mann Library in obtaining this data.
See also the CUGIR FAQ on Minor Civil Divisions.
From CUGIR, you can download Minor Civil Divisions by county, which has town boundaries. There is also a statewide layer (1990 census) for county subdivisions, which is similar. You can download the statewide county subdivisions for 1990 and 2000 directly from the Census Bureau.
The NYS GIS Clearinghouse also has some boundary data. Some data sets are available only to members of the data cooperative, so you may need to contact the data owner directly. Cornell community members can use the Contact CUGIR form to request assistance from Mann Library in obtaining this data.
- CUGIR does not hold Census data from prior to 1990 in its collection. Possible sources include the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS), the Archive of Census Related Products (ACRP), or the Census http and ftp archive sites.
- Much of the data we receive for CUGIR comes from New York State agencies that are focused on New York State. In some cases the data files are missing areas that fall outside of or along the state borders. You may be able to find data covering these missing sections from neighboring states data repositories. A list of these can be found at geolode.org.
- According to ESRI technical support the dropped cells in v.9.2 are the result of an incorrect value set for the Pixel Type parameter in the Mosaic to New Raster tool or in the Mosaic tool. The New York State GIS Help Desk Knowledge Base has a complete explanation of the problem, and how to solve it: http://www.gishost.com/gishelpdesk/search_ticket.asp?ticketnum=2719.
Most CUGIR data files require specialized software to view. These files are not actual "maps" but data that can be used to create maps. You will need to use one or more programs that can properly open these files. You may also need to carry out conversion procedures in order to import files which have been archived, compressed or otherwise packaged for portability. Please consult the File Formats and GIS Software Compatibility, Data Formats, and Compressed Data sections of CUGIR help for more information.
File names and directory paths can also cause problems when trying to open or load a data file. Some software will not open files that have spaces or special characters in the file name or any directory or sub-directory ("Documents and Settings" for example, is part of the directory path for files downloaded to the desktop of windows machines). Especially long file or directory names can also cause a problem with some software.
In order for ArcGIS to usefully display a DEM with different colors for different elevations, it must first calculate statistics for the DEM. Below are two different methods.
Use ArcToolbox > "DEM to Raster" to convert the DEM.
- Use the usual "Add Data" to load the DEM
- Right-click the layer and select "Properties..."
- Select the Symbology tab
- Under "Stretch" type, select "Standard Deviations"
- A prompt will appear: "Statistics do not exist. Do you want to compute statistics?" Click "Yes"
- Click "OK", and the DEM should now display as expected.
- Your problem may be related to incorrect projection information being assigned to one or more data layers. Please see the Data Projection section in our CUGIR Help.
Can I get information or maps relating to property ownership (parcel), regulation and permits from CUGIR?
Can I order a CD or DVD of a selection of your data?
Can I purchase topographic maps from CUGIR?
Can you tell me more about the attribute table field codes and what they represent (e.g. for Census data)?
Do you have building footprint and location maps?
Do you have contour maps/data (e.g. DLG)?
Do you have flood or other hazard related maps and data?
Do you have the most recent versions of TIGER/LINE files from the US Census Bureau?
Do you have zip code data?
Does CUGIR offer a FTP method for downloading large volumes/areas of CUGIR data at once?
How can I contribute data to CUGIR?
How can I create a printable map on your website?
How do I find out which quad includes data for the area I am interested in (e.g. by town name)?
How do I view/import a DEM file?
I am having trouble opening a .z/.gz/.zip/.tar file. Can you help?
I am looking for public lands boundary data. Do you have this?
I am looking for SSURGO soils data for an area that does not appear to currently be available. Any idea of when this will be ready?
I can't open/import an .e00 file. What is the problem?
I need data that covers an area along the New York border, but can't find on your web site. Where I can get this data?
What are "Minor Civil Divisions"?
What is an RSS feed and how do I subscribe to CUGIR news announcements?
Where can I find aerial or satellite photos or images?
Where can I find bathymetry data?
Where can I find municipal boundary data?
Where can I find town boundary data?
Where can I get Census data from before 1990?
Why are there gaps or missing sections (along the NY border) in the data that I downloaded from CUGIR?
Why are there missing cells when I mosaic DEMs using ArcGIS 9.2?
Why can't I view or open a file/map?
Why does a DEM file appear in ArcGIS as a gray box?
Why don't my data layers line up properly?
Finding CUGIR data
There are three ways to find CUGIR data:
Enter search terms into the search box in the upper right hand corner of the web page. Results will include data themes, spatial series, map sheets, data providers, geographic features, topics, CUGIR FAQ, and CUGIR Help topics. You may choose to exclude one or more types of results from your search by selecting more options, and unchecking the types you'd like to exclude from your results.
We provide quick links to the most frequently used datasets at the top of the Browse page. You can also browse by making selections from one or more of the lists (topics, data providers, and spatial series) on the Browse page, and clicking the browse button. Browse the entire list of datasets by clicking the browse button without making any selections.
Use the Map browse if you prefer a graphical interface that allows you to make selections based on location and spatial series. The following spatial series have index maps for locating datasets:
Select Statewide Data from the Map browse interface for a list of datasets published for New York State as a whole.
Select Other Series from the Map browse interface for a list of other spatial series not represented in the Map browse interface.
Selecting and Downloading Data from CUGIR
NOTE: Not all data listed in CUGIR are available for direct download from CUGIR. Download now links indicate data that are available for download from CUGIR; a link to the data provider's website indicates access to data via that external web site. In the cases where data are available at an external web site, we do our best to provide the most specific and direct link possible to data. These externally available data sets cannot be added to the Basket.
Downloading Individual Files
To download a single data file from CUGIR, select the download now link from a list of data files. If you need additional help finding specific datasets, please see the Finding CUGIR Data section.
Downloading Multiple Files
While searching or browsing lists of datasets in CUGIR, add data files to a basket for download by checking the box to the left of the data file name. To select all the files in a list, check the check all link at the top of the list. Click the add checked map data files to basket button to add the selected files to your basket. Your cumulative selections will then be shown on the basket page. You can continue browsing for and adding data after each addition.
When you are ready to download all of your selected files, click the Basket button on the top navigation bar to review your selections. Items added to your basket will only remain during the time of your session, so if you choose to download later you will need to find and select files again. Click the download selected button to begin the download process. There may be some delay while the files are gathered for packaging and compression. Once the process is complete, a message will display indicating that your zipped download package is ready. The zip file will be named using a format which displays the data and time downloaded. For example, CUGIR_2005-12-12T15-17-58 means that the file was packaged on 12/12/2005, at 3:17pm. Click the link to download the package.
Note: There is a download limit of 120MB per package.
Accessing & Downloading SSURGO Soils Data
As of June 2013, the Soil Data Mart site was completely deactivated, making hyperlinks from other applications or documents to Soil Data Mart no longer valid (including some found on CUGIR, and associated metadata). After this date all capabilities of Soil Data Mart (with minor exceptions) were made available through Web Soil Survey. Unfortunately, stable links directly to county level data sets are no longer possible from CUGIR.
To access SSURGO data:
- Go to the Web Soils Survey site
- Click "Download Soils Data" tab
- Click "Soil Survey Area (SSURGO)" and specify state and county
- Scroll down and cilck the download link for the .zip file
Beginning with the 2000 census, CUGIR adopted a policy of only providing decadal updates to census data sets. These data are derived from the US Census bureau's TIGER/Line files (www.census.gov/geo/www/tiger/), and the Census Bureau releases periodic updates in between decadal censuses. The significance of these updates varies, and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether they should obtain updated data from the Census Bureau. Please be aware that TIGER files do include demographic data, and that changes in census boundaries in newer versions of TIGER files may complicate the process of using older tabular data with newer census boundaries. In 2002, the Census Bureau awarded an eight-year contract to improve the accuracy of their master address file. This has resulted in a realignment of street features in some areas, and users of census roads data may wish to check on the availability of updated data sets (see http://www.census.gov/geo/www/tiger/).
CUGIR files are compressed to reduce file size and download time. Packaging or "archiving" files together also makes them more portable. Many free utilities to extract compressed files are available online. Many are listed on Wikipedia's Comparison of file archivers. CUGIR does not support or recommend any particular software. When choosing a program, be sure to confirm it can handle the file types needing extraction (compressed or archived).
Types of File Compression
- .gz = Gzipped files. A compressed file format originally developed by Jean-Loup Gailly and Mark Adler and adopted by the Free Software Foundation's GNU project. Most file compression utilities can uncompress .gz files (including the free 7-Zip software), but it may be necessary to change the settings of the program to include support for .gz files by default. Look for options to change settings for file formats or file associations. A program called Gzip (Gnu Zip) that compresses and decompresses files, was also created by the authors. For more information on this format, see the gzip home page.
- .tar.gz = UNIX archived (using tar) and GZip compressed files. Files with .tar.gz extensions have been UNIX archived (using the tar command) and compressed (in Gzip format). An archive file contains multiple files when extracted. In the case of shapefiles, three or more files are tarred together and then gzipped to create a single compressed archive file.
- .zip = zip compressed files. Many newer data files in CUGIR are in standard .zip format, which any standard Windows, Unix, Linux, or Mac zip archive utility should be able to read and decompress.
- .Z = UNIX compressed files. Files with .Z extensions have been UNIX compressed. UNIX users can use the uncompress command to expand these files to their original form. Windows and Macintosh users can use the Gzip program, or other compatible decompression utilities.
Tips on Uncompressing Files
- If you have trouble extracting a file, try a different utility.
- If your file compression utility does not appear to recognize the compressed data package, you may need to change a setting (sometimes called "file associations") in the utility to recognize that file type (this is typically a problem for .tar and .gz data packages).
- ESRI software users should make sure the folders and directory names contain no spaces or special characters.
- Some files may extract to folders with the same name by default; you may need to extract data to uniquely named folders to avoid confusion.
- Some file formats require a conversion step before they can be used in GIS software; see the help topic on File Formats and GIS Software Compatibility for more information.
- See the help topic on CUGIR data packages for more information on the contents of downloaded data packages.
CUGIR Data Package
A CUGIR data package includes:
- Compressed copies of the selected data file(s).
- A folder containing metadata for the selected data file(s). The metadata is in XML format and stylesheets are provided to display it in a web browser.
- A README file with information about the data package, including the names of downloaded files and links to check to see if newer data are available from CUGIR. The name of the README file indicates the data and time of the download. For example, CUGIR_2005-12-12T15-17-58 means that the file was packaged on 12/12/2005, at 3:17pm.
For help extracting the contents of CUGIR data packages, see the help topic Compressed Files.
CUGIR offers spatial data files in the following formats:
A format used to package and transfer files in ArcInfo coverage, grid, or INFO format between machines for use in a Geographic Information System. ArcInfo Export files may need to be extracted before importing into a GIS. Users of ArcGIS may be able to use the "Import from E00" (or "Import from Interchange File" in older versions) tool in ArcToolbox. There is also a free conversion utility called Import71, available from ESRI. See the File Formats and GIS Software Compatibility help section for more info.
A proprietary ESRI raster format. Grids are useful for representing geographic variation, spatial modeling and analysis. CUGIR distributes grid data archived and compressed (e.g. as .tar.gz files), requiring extraction before use. See File Formats and GIS Software Compatibility section.
CUGIR offers a small number of data files (e.g. municipal tax parcel datasets for Tompkins County) in computer-aided design (CAD) format for use in AutoCAD and other compatible software (including some GIS programs).
.tif TIFF or GeoTIFF
TIFF is an image format which may or may not have georeferencing information associated with it. GeoTIFF is a TIFF format with additional georeferencing information included in the header of each file and/or in an accessory tiff world file (.tfw). This information allows the map images to be properly drawn within GIS software.
The Digital Raster Graphic (DRG) map images in CUGIR are in GeoTIFF format. These are useful for locating and identifying landscape features and landmarks, and as base layers in mapping projects. Originally published by the USGS by 7.5-minute quadrangle map, CUGIR DRGs are edited and updated by the NYS DEC. Map collars and legends found on print versions ("topo maps") which these are derived from have been removed. In some cases areas outside New York state may be cropped out as well. In order to properly import DRGs into a GIS, coordinate system and projection information must first be defined (see Data Projection section). A DRG index is available listing information about each specific DRG quad set, including map publication date, contour interval and unit, and USGS code. Each quad consists of a set of individual tiles that can be mosaiced together before import or loaded as a set into a GIS. The mosaic process will vary depending on the software being used. ArcGIS users may use the Mosaic to New Raster tool in ArcToolbox. The TatukGIS Free Viewer is a free application that can also be used.
A proprietary ESRI format commonly used for storing vector data, including geographic features and their attributes. Compatible with ArcView, ArcExplorer, ArcInfo or ArcGIS, this format can also be used and/or converted by most popular GIS software applications. In CUGIR, shapefiles have been packaged and compressed. When decompressed, shapefiles contain three or more necessary files to complete a data set, each with the same name but different extension file types. These files must be kept together in the same subdirectory. All are necessary parts of the data theme when used with GIS software. In some cases projection information may be included in an accessory .prj file that allows GIS software to properly draw and place the data layer. If this file is missing users will need to "define " the projection before importing into a GIS (see Data Projection section).
Digital Elevation Models (DEM) are an ASCII comma-delimited format file type used by USGS to distribute digital elevation data. The 7.5-minute DEM (10m by 10m data spacing) provides the same coverage as a standard USGS 7.5-minute quadrangle. DEM uses include volumetric analysis, site location, or drainage basin delineation. Three dimensional "hillshade" views and contour lines can also be created from DEMs. Depending on the GIS software being used, conversion steps may be needed before importing or viewing DEMs. See File Formats and GIS Software Compatibility section for more information.
Electronic versions of some technical documentation and data are posted in CUGIR in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). PDF files maintain the format and look of print documents and are easily accessible to people using various computer platforms. PDF documents require the Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing and printing. This free software, along with instructions on installation and use, is available on the Adobe website.
File Formats and GIS Software Compatibility
There are many software options for importing and using CUGIR files. Although we do not recommend or support any particular software system, CUGIR does attempt to make data available in popular and widely-compatible formats. The following information describes some software options for specific data formats. A general description of what steps may be needed for import is included for select applications and formats. Please consult the help files, manuals and support web sites associated with the software being used for specific guidance. ESRI software users (ArcGIS) can find support at http://support.esri.com/. Another possible source of help is the New York State GIS Clearinghouse Help desk.
Some of the GIS software products which CUGIR data can be used with are listed below. Other tools are continually being developed and made available at low or no cost. We've listed a few in the GIS Tools: Freeware and Shareware section of CUGIR Help. One useful site for finding these tools is http://software.geocomm.com/ .
|Software||Compatible Data Formats|
|ArcGIS Explorer (free)||X||X||X||X|
|Dlgv32 Pro (free)||X||X||X||X||X|
|TatukGIS Viewer (free)||X||X||X||X|
|Quantum GIS (free)||X||X||X||X||X|
ArcGIS 9.x (commercial)
ArcGIS version 9.x is available at three different functionality/license levels. ArcView, ArcEditor, and ArcInfo each offer the same interface and following suite of integrated applications: ArcMap (for creating, analyzing and editing map projects), ArcCatalog (for organizing data), and ArcToolbox (for converting, managing, and analyzing data files). ArcToolbox can be accessed within ArcCatalog or ArcMap. Many batch processing tasks are now handled in ArcGIS via geoprocessing scripts. While some are provided within ArcGIS, custom scripts can be written in a COM compliant language (e.g. Python).
*Special Note: Some tools/functionalities available in previous versions of the Arc family of ESRI products (importing .e00 and .mif files) are now be found in the ArcView 8x Tools Conversion Toolbar, in ArcCatalog. To add the toolbar:
- Start the ArcCatalog application.
- Click the View menu, point to Toolbars, and click Customize.
- Check the box next to ArcView 8x Tools on the Toolbar tab and click close.
- Click the Conversion Tools drop down menu to access tools.
USGS DEM files (.dem) USGS DEM formatted files must first be converted into grid format before elevation data can be imported into ArcMap. To import a USGS DEM for use in ArcGIS 9.x, open ArcToolbox from ArcCatalog or ArcMap. Go to Conversion Tools/To Raster/DEM to Raster.
Arc Export files (.e00) ArcGIS 9.x users who have the Interoperability extension enabled can import e00 files directly. Others must first convert them to a coverage file. ArcInfo licensees can use ArcToolbox. Go to Coverage Tools/Conversion/To Coverage/Import from Interchange file. [These and other users can add a 8.x style Conversion toolbar to ArcCatalog, see note above.]
The latest release of ESRI's ArcGIS software, version 10.x, is available at three different functionality/license levels -Basic, Standard, or Advanced (formerly ArcView, ArcEditor, or ArcInfo, respectively). These share the same core applications, user interface, and development environment. Each license level provides additional GIS functionality as you move from Basic to Standard to Advanced. You can compare these here. Optional ArcGIS for Desktop extensions offer specialized tools and additional capabilities to enhance your system. Changes with this latest release include an increased emphasis on online data, including ArcGIS Online data that can be seamlessly imported into maps, and mobile device features.
A relatively low cost, high function commercial GIS application that runs in Windows. Works with vector drawings, satellite and aerial photos, other raster data, multichannel remote sensing images, 2D and 3D surfaces and terrain simulations, multilayered maps, user supplied or automatically generated labels and a wide range of database table formats. Includes a built in Internet map server for publishing maps to the web. Support for Manifold can be found in the software help files, and in the online User Manual. There is also a searchable archive of user questions and answers at the Manifold Forum.
GIS Tools: Freeware and Shareware
Free or Shareware GIS Tools
Here are just a sampling of GIS software products which can be used with CUGIR data. Other tools can be readily found online. Wikipedia has a listing here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki /List_of_GIS_software.
ArcGIS Explorer - ESRI provides free desktop, online and mobile versions of this software. The stand alone ArcExplorer Import Utility, or "Import71" extracts ArcInfo interchange files (".e00") into ArcInfo coverages, which then can be used in ArcGIS Explorer or other compatible applications.
Dlgv32 Pro - is a free Windows software application for viewing a variety of digital cartographic data. It was originally developed in support of USGS digital line graph (DLG) production activities. This software allows preview and evaluation of USGS data. It contains no editing capabilities, and is not a substitute for commercial Geographic Information System (GIS) software. USGS DEM formatted files in CUGIR can be opened directly into Dlgv32 Pro. Dlgv32 Pro can automatically create a color hill-shaded relief depiction of the DEM data. Multiple files can be opened in the same view.
FWTools -A set of free Open Source GIS binaries for Windows (win32) and Linux (x86) systems produced by Frank Warmerdam. It was previously known as OpenEV_FW. Many useful utilities for creating, manipulating, and serving geo-spatial data. FWTools includes OpenEV, GDAL, MapServer, PROJ.4 and OGDI as well as some supporting components.
Geomatica FreeView- from PCI Geomatics. Geomatica FreeView can be used to view a variety of data, including imagery, vectors, and graphical bitmaps. Common data formats that can be viewed include Arc Export (e00), MIF, DEM, DLG, SDTS, and many more. FreeView includes tools for image roaming and magnification, numeric value display, and attributes table display. Geomatica can import Arc Export (e00) and DEM files directly without conversion.
gvSIG- Free open source GIS written in Java, developed with support from European Union. Works with vector and raster files, as well as WMS, WCS or WFS web services. Includes gvSIG Mobile, a smaller version adapted for use in mobile devices.
Quantum GIS - A user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) that runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, Windows and Android. QGIS supports a large number of vector, raster, and database formats. QGIS is licensed under the GNU Public License.
TatukGIS Viewer -The free Viewer is designed to open and view GIS/CAD and raster image files and projects composed of these files. It reads most file formats and supports many custom rendering and other features. The Viewer can also save project configurations to a TatukGIS project file.
uDig -User friendly, Desktop located, Internet oriented, GIS ready Java application. Free and open source, uDig can be used as a stand alone GIS application, extended with RCP plugins, or used as a plugin to RCP applications. Works with a variety of data formats and web services.
Converting real world locations and features into spatial data (and consequently maps) depends on:
- assumptions or models of the size and shape of the earth (spheroid),
- with some that apply to specific regions (datum);
- systems of measurement (coordinate systems);
- and mathematical processes for converting three dimensional space into two dimensions ( projections).
Occasionally spatial data files, including some in the CUGIR collection, may be provided without sufficient coordinate system and projection information predefined to enable proper registration within a viewer or GIS. For example, the CUGIR DRG files, although containing partial georeferencing information within the header of the GeoTIFF file and the associated world file (.tfw), still need to have their projection explicitly defined before using in a GIS. The summary information and metadata associated with a file will indicate the spatial reference information needed to properly define a files coordinate system, projection, and units of measurement.
Projection information may be appended to the existing data files, or added through new supplementary files (e.g. *.prj for shapefiles and *.aux for rasters). The process for doing this will vary depending on the data format and software being used. Please consult the appropriate manuals and help files for assistance. It is important that users confirm that projection information has been properly defined before using data, as some software products may assign an erroneous default projection in its absence. Many times problems with data layers not overlaying properly are related to these projection issues . More information on projections, registration and GIS is available at Wikipedia. The Cartographical Map Projections page also has very good information on map projections.
GIS metadata defined
Metadata is the descriptive information applied to a digital geospatial file, a common set of terms and definitions to use when documenting geospatial data. Most digital geospatial files now have some associated metadata. A metadata file is a text document that answers the who, what, when, where, why and how questions about the data.
GIS metadata standards
GIS metadata that follows the standard (specifically, the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata, or CSDGM) set by the Federal Geographic Data Committee is commonly known as FGDC metadata. FGDC metadata format is complex because it was designed to describe all possible instances of geospatial data. For complete information on the FGDC standard, see the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata Workbook, Version 2.0 (PDF file). The workbook contains complete descriptions of metadata fields as well as answers to frequently asked questions.
The International Standards Organization (ISO) has published an international standard for Geographic metadata (ISO 19115:2003), that defines the schema required for describing geographic information and services. Currently there are several international organizations whose aim is to harmonize the FGDC and ISO metadata standards. For current information on harmonization activities, please visit http://www.fgdc.gov/metadata/fgdc-iso-activities/.
The value of GIS metadata
GIS metadata serves several important functions for users of geospatial data. Most importantly, its use in GIS clearinghouses and portals make it a primary means for users to discover the existence of GIS datasets. It also enables users to evaluate the fitness of a particular dataset for their application, conveys important information about use and access constraints, includes information on how data may be obtained or used, and may provide additional types of information about the data.
For publishers of GIS data, metadata serve to:
- organize, document, and preserve the organization's investment in spatial data;
- provide information about an organization's data holding to data catalogs, clearinghouses, and brokerages such as FGDC;
- provide information to process and interpret data received through a transfer from an external source such as the FGDC;
- provide access to data and related information to customers.
Creating GIS metadata
The information needed to create metadata is often readily available when the data are collected. Data producers and users cannot afford to be without documented data, and the initial expense of documenting data may save money in the long run by avoiding the potential costs of duplicated or redundant data generation.
There are a variety of tools that are available to create standard FGDC metadata. ESRI, MapInfo, Intergraph, Blue Angel, and Compusult are just a few companies that include metadata management tools as part of their GIS software suites. In addition, the USGS and other US federal government agencies provide a variety of low technology tools at no cost that are widely used and meet the needs of many metadata producers.
All CUGIR metadata are carefully reviewed and edited by Mann Library's Metadata librarians to ensure that the metadata are well-formed and FGDC-compliant. Most of the metadata are created with two USGS tools, a preparser, cns (chew and spit) and a parser, mp. cns, the pre-parser, converts records that cannot be parsed by mp into records that can be parsed by mp. It takes as input a poorly-formatted metadata file and, optionally, a list of element aliases, and outputs a metadata file that can be read by both mp and xtme, and a file listing all of the lines that it couldn't figure out where to put.
mp is a metadata parser that parses formal metadata, checking the syntax against the FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata and generating output suitable for viewing with a web browser or text editor. The parsing date of all CUGIR metadata is noted at the very bottom of each metadata record with the following statement: "Generated by mp on Mon May 03 10:37:59 1999." Although there are numerous ways to display metadata (i.e. DIF, FAQ Style), all CUGIR metadata are created and stored as XML files, to which a stylesheet is applied for display in a web browser.
Metadata Education and Training
- FGDC Metadata Quick Guide in PDF format
- FGDC Metadata Website
- Formal Metadata: Information and tools available from the USGS
- USGS Geology Metadata FAQ's
- NOAA Coastal Services Center Metadata webpage
- Minnesota Land Management Information Center Metadata Webpage
- Ten Most Common Metadata Errors
- Dublin Core Metadata Initiative
- David Hart's Metadata Primer - "How To" Guide on Metadata Implementation
- Louisiana Geographic Information Council Metadata Workbook
Metadata Librarians at Albert R. Mann Library can provide assistance in the areas of creation, management, preservation, and quality control of GIS metadata that is well-formed and FGDC-compliant. These services range from advice, email and telephone contacts, to consultations that may require metadata training or long term consultations. In most cases, we are willing to provide metadata services at no cost, but in some instances, a fee-based service may be applicable.
If you have specific questions related to CUGIR metadata or if you need assistance with GIS metadata, please contact Keith Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 607.255.7192.
- show Glossary in full
Why a glossary?
Terminology can be confusing in GIS; the following examples define terms used on the CUGIR site or found frequently in GIS-related materials.
Please suggest any other terms you would like a definition for, or how we could make our terminology more consistent or more clear.
An attribute table is a database table containing information about geographic features in a GIS dataset. One column typically contains a primary geographic identifier (such as a census tract ID number). Other columns might contain additional geographic information (such as a county FIPS code or state abbreviation), spatial information such as line length or polygon area, and/or associated data values such as population.
Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM)
The FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (FGDC-STD-001-1998) provides a common set of terminology and definitions for the documentation of digital geospatial data. The standard establishes the names of data elements and compound elements (groups of data elements) to be used for these purposes, the definitions of these compound elements and data elements, and information about the values that are to be provided for the data elements. All CUGIR metadata are created in accordance with the FGDC CSDGM standard.
See also the CUGIR Help section on GIS metadata standards.
A system of measurement for calculating and describing positions on the earth. There are two types of coordinate systems, geographic and projected. Geographic coordinate systems use latitude and longitude coordinates to reference real world locations, and are based on a spherical model (spheroid) of the earth. Projected coordinate systems use mathematical formulas to convert latitude and longitude coordinates from a three-dimensional surface to a two-dimensional surface.
See also the CUGIR Help section on data projections.
A data dictionary is a collection of descriptions of the data objects or items in a dataset for the benefit of users who need to refer to them; information is stored on all the objects within the database and their relationships with each other. Certain metadata records include or reference data dictionaries, and data dictionaries are sometimes included with CUGIR datasets.
CUGIR distributes data in a number of digital formats, principally Arc Export, Shapefile, DEM, and GeoTIFF. Many of these formats are binary and therefore readable only with GIS software. Please see the help section on File Formats and GIS Software Compatibility for a more detailed discussion of each format. Data formats currently included in CUGIR are described in the Data Formats help section.
A data provider is a department, institution, government agency, other organization or individual that has provided data directly or indirectly to CUGIR. CUGIR users may browse data by provider via the Browse page, or select from the list of current data providers.
A data theme is a collection of geographic data published for one or more geographic areas (mapsheets in CUGIR). Most geographic datasets have accompanying attribute data in an attribute table. For example, the data theme Agricultural Districts includes 53 data files, one for each of the counties for which digital agriculture district data are available. Themes are assigned to topic categories to facilitate browsing by topic. Themes are divided into current and older versions, when appropriate.
A frame of reference or surface against which position measurements are made, based on an associated model of the shape of the earth (spheroid). Datums define the origin and orientation of latitude and longitude lines, or the position of the spheroid relative to the center of the earth.
Digital Raster Graphic (DRG)
A digital raster graphic (DRG) is a scanned image of a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) standard series topographic map. The DRGs in CUGIR are supplied by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and have had the map collars (including legend) removed to facilitate their use in GIS software. They are distributed by 7.5 minute quads (1:24,000 scale).
Extensible Markup Language (XML)
XML is a simple, very flexible text format derived from SGML (ISO 8879). Originally designed to meet the challenges of large-scale electronic publishing, XML is also playing an increasingly important role in the exchange of a wide variety of data on the Web and elsewhere. CUGIR metadata are stored as XML files, to which stylesheets are applied for display in a web browser.
Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)
The Federal Geographic Data Committee is an interagency committee composed of representatives from the Executive Office of the President, Cabinet-level and independent agencies. The FGDC is developing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) in cooperation with organizations from State, local and tribal governments, the academic community, and the private sector. The NSDI encompasses policies, standards, and procedures for organizations to cooperatively produce and share geographic data.
The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS), contains codes for named populated places, primary county divisions, and other locational entities of the United States and areas under the jurisdiction of the United States. The USGS maintains a searchable database for FIPS codes.
A gazetteer is a geographical database or directory of place names and natural, historical, or cultural features. The CUGIR gazetteer was produced by the USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS).
A geographic feature is place or natural, historical, or cultural landmark as identified in the USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), the source gazetteer for CUGIR. Each feature in the CUGIR gazetteer is linked to the USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle and county in which it is located.
International Standards Organization (ISO)
The ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of more than 150 countries, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. The ISO Geographic Information / Geomatics technical committee 211 (TC211) develops standards that specify, for geographic information, methods, tools and services for data management (including definition and description), acquiring, processing, analyzing, accessing, presenting and transferring such data in digital / electronic form between different users, systems and locations. The TC211's published standard for Geographic information -- metadata (ISO 19115:2003) defines the schema required for describing geographic information and services. It provides information about the identification, the extent, the quality, the spatial and temporal schema, spatial reference, and distribution of digital geographic data.
Large Scale Hydrography
The New York State Large Scale Hydrography dataset contains information about surface and network water features such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, springs and wells. The NYS Large Scale Hydrography dataset is similar to National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) data in that it is tiled by subbasin and is networked (has center lines and connectors to represent continuous linear flow). NHD also includes a flow table, reach codes, and many other features the NYS Hydrography Network does not yet have.
A mapsheet is a geographic unit or identifiable spatial area for which one or more data themes are available. Mapsheets are grouped into spatial series, examples of which include the 62 New York counties, more than 900 7.5 minute quadrangles, 18 1x2-degree quadrangles, the Hudson River Estuary, and New York State as a whole.
National Hydrography Dataset (NHD)
The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) is a comprehensive set of digital spatial data that contains information about surface water features such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, springs and wells.
See also the CUGIR Help section on Large Scale Hydrography.
National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)
The National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) consists of the technology, policies, criteria, standards and people necessary to promote geospatial data sharing throughout all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and academia. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) coordinates the development of the NSDI. CUGIR is an active online repository of the NSDI program.
A mathematically based process for converting locations on the three-dimensional earth surface into two dimensions. Spherical coordinates are converted to planar. Different projections will have differing impacts on various aspects of area, distance, and shape.
See also the CUGIR Help section on Data projections.
A spatial series is a collection of mapsheets (discrete spatial units) for which one or more data themes are available in CUGIR. For example, the spatial series New York counties includes 62 mapsheets (one for each county), and there are more than 40 data themes available for this spatial series. CUGIR users may browse data by spatial series via the Browse page, or select from a list of current spatial series.
A mathematically derived model depicting the size and shape of the earth.
Since CUGIR's inception in 1998, many of the data themes in CUGIR have been updated or replaced by more recent data. Because newer versions may involve significant changes in scope, definition, scale, or other factors, CUGIR sometimes treats each version as a separate data theme, and current and older data files are sometimes separated for display in CUGIR. The decision to make older versions of data publicly available or not rests with the data provider.