There are many online repositories of spatial data, or of tabular data you can convert to spatial data via a GIS join operation; here are a few. Lewis & Clark, via Watzek Digital Initiatives, is participating in the GeoBlacklight consortium of institutions who are sharing spatial data with each other via a user-friendly web interface. Here’s how you can use geo.lclark.edu, Lewis & Clark’s GeoBlacklight repository, to find and download spatial data.
Go to geo.lclark.edu. You’ll see an interface such as the one at right, giving you an easy way to search GeoBlacklight’s thousands and thousands of spatial data records. You can search for spatial data in three ways:
- Enter general search terms in the box at top. This is the easiest way to initiate a search, and you can always refine it later (see #2 below).
- Click a specific category at left. This allows you to search by a specific institutional repository, data type, location, or topic.
- Zoom/pan the map at right, then click Search here to search for all spatial data records found within the current extent of the map.
Once you’ve performed your initial search, you’ll get a window such as this one. Here is where you can refine your initial search in order to eliminate less relevant data. (If you want to expand your data search to find data not revealed in the initial search, go back to the main page or search window at top and re-enter your search terms.) Here’s how to refine your search:
- At left you can expand the boxes to limit your search by institution, author, publisher, subject, place, collection, year, access, data type, and/or format.
- At right you can pan/zoom to limit your search by location. Only the datasets that pertain to the current extent of the map will be displayed.
- In the middle is the list of spatial data records. This list dynamically updates when you narrow your search. When you’ve found a record of interest, click on it.
Once you’ve clicked on a spatial data record, you’ll see a window like this. This window helps you decide whether or not the data are relevant to your needs; it also provides a link for you to download the data. Here are some of the important things you can do here:
- View information (i.e., metadata) related to your spatial data. A fuller view of metadata is available by clicking the Metadata link at upper right.
- View data attributes via the map interface at left. By clicking on a portion of the data (e.g., within a polygon), you’ll see all attributes related to that portion immediately to the right.
- Get the data via the Download button. (If the data are not publicly available, you may need to login or get permission; contact Watzek Digital Initiatives for assistance.) If you are not yet ready to download the data but would like to find this record later, click the Email or SMS This links at upper right.