Public administration and policy: International geospatial resources

World-wide Data Portals

  • Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF)
    The Alaska Satellite Facility downlinks, processes, archives, and distributes remote-sensing data to scientific users around the world. ASF's mission is to make remote-sensing data accessible.
  • Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)
    Is a center within the Earth Institute at Columbia University. CIESIN works at the intersection of the social, natural, and information sciences, and specializes in on-line data and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment.
  • Diva-GIS
    Download country level data for any country in the world: administrative boundaries, roads, railroads, altitude, land cover, population density.
  • Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
    EROS archives remotely sensed images of the Earth's land surface. These data are acquired by civilian satellites and aircraft and used to study a wide range of natural hazards, global environmental change, and economic development and conservation issues. 
  • Esri Data and Maps
    A set of ready-to-use maps and data layers, including a variety of basemap and thematic layers for the world with scale-dependent rendering and labeling and the ability to turn layers on and off. Over 130 pre-symbolized and pre-authored vector data layers and detailed metadata for North America, Europe, and the World. Updated data such as the 2010 U.S. Census datasets and new datasets including the debut of World Countries and first order World Administrative Area datasets.
  • FAO GeoNetwork
    ​The FAO GeoNetwork provides Internet access to interactive maps, satellite imagery and related spatial databases maintained by FAO and its partners. It's purpose is to improve access to and integrated use of spatial data and information. 
  • Google Open Buildings
    A dataset of building footprints to support social good applications. This large-scale open dataset contains the outlines of buildings derived from high-resolution satellite imagery in order to support these types of uses. The project is based in Ghana, with an initial focus on the continent of Africa and new updates on South Asia, South-East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Global Administrative Areas (GADM)
    GADM is a spatial database of the location of the world's administrative areas (or administrative boundaries) for use in GIS and similar software. Administrative areas in this database are countries and lower level subdivisions such as provinces, departments and counties. GADM describes where these administrative areas are (the "spatial features"), and for each area it provides some attributes, such as the name and variant names.
  • HYDRO 1K Elevation Datasets
    HYDRO1k is a geographic database developed to provide comprehensive and consistent global coverage of topographically derived data sets, including streams, drainage basins and ancillary layers derived from the USGS’ 30 arc-second digital elevation model of the world.
  • International Geospatial Portals (provided by the  UniMelb Library)
    ​Geospatial map resources and data sources, including a crowd sourced list of open data portals around the world to all sorts of materials.
  • LandScan Global Population Database 
    Only Virginia Tech faculty, staff, students, and on-site public users can access this database) 
    LandScan is a global population database that shows geographical distribution of population at one-kilometer resolution over an average 24-hour period. Demographic (age, race, sex) and socioeconomic characteristics are integrated with population data to allow integration with risk and impact assessment models. 2011-2014.
  • Lincoln institute of Land Policy
    We develop and provide planning tools and techniques for practicing planners, developers, land conservation leaders, academics, and policy makers in the areas of land use mediation and negotiation, regional collaboration, environmental planning, land conservation, and comprehensive planning.
  • Natural Earth
    Natural Earth is a public domain map dataset consisting of free vector and raster map data  available at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110 million scales. Featuring tightly integrated vector and raster data, with Natural Earth you can make a variety of visually pleasing, well-crafted maps with cartography or GIS software.
  • OpenStreetMap
    ​OpenStreetMap is built by a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations, and much more, all over the world. OpenStreetMap is open data: you are free to use it for any purpose as long as you credit OpenStreetMap and its contributors.
  • Overture Maps Foundation
    Overture powers current and next-generation map products by creating reliable, easy-to-use, and interoperable open map data. It is meant for developers who build map services or use geospatial data. It incorporates map data from multiple sources including Overture Members, civic organizations, and open data sources.
  • Spatial Data Access Tool (SDAT)

The ORNL DAAC provides access to various geospatial data, including ORNL DAAC archived data through Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards-based Web Services ( [+] Web Map Service v1.1.1 and [+] Web Coverage Service v1.0.0 ). OGC services allow users to select the spatial extent, format, projection and resolution of the data to be previewed and/or downloaded.

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
    This online database holds more than 500 different variables, as national, subregional, regional and global statistics or as geospatial data sets (maps), covering themes like Freshwater, Population, Forests, Emissions, Climate, Disasters, Health and GDP. Display them on-the-fly as maps, graphs, data tables or download the data in different formats.
  • U.S. Department of State Humanitarian Unit
    The mission of the Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) is to serve as a U.S. Government interagency center to identify, collect, analyze, and disseminate all-source information critical to U.S. This is accomplish in part by Identifying key sources of geospatial and georeferenced data best suited to meet the information requirements of our consumers.
  • World Bank
    ​The World Bank Group works in every major area of development. We provide a wide array of financial products and technical assistance, and we help countries share and apply innovative knowledge and solutions to the challenges they face.
  • World Geologic Maps (USGS)
    Near global coverage of coarse resolution surface geology maps in a variety of formats.

  • World Resource Institute
    World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, and the United States. Our more than 450 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action to sustain our natural resources—the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being. We produces maps, charts, data sets, infographics, and other visual resources.

Continental Data Portals


  • Africa Map Library
    Map Library - This site includes public domain base map data for Africa, country by country. Included are administrative boundaries and satellite imagery.
  • AfricaMap
    ​WorldMap is an open source web mapping system that is currently under construction. It is built to assist academic research and teaching as well as the general public and supports discovery, investigation, analysis, visualization, communication and archiving of multi-disciplinary, multi-source and multi-format data, organized spatially and temporally.
  • Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS)
    Our mission is to expand the use of data science to ensure that soil and landscape resources are described, understood and used effectively. AfSIS works with a wide range of stakeholders to develop demand-driven spatial data and information products and services and in helping institutions for improving the management of soils and landscapes.
  • Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE)
    Is a collection of spatial datasets and links to important spatial datasets relevant to conservation activates within the Congo Basin.
  • Namibia: Digital Atlas
    Data includes Climate, Physical Geography, Living Resources, Land & History and People, Services & Infrastructure.
  • SAFARI 2000 (S2K) Project
     Is an international regional science initiative being developed for Southern Africa to explore, study and address linkages between land-atmosphere processes and the relationship of biogenic, pyrogenic or anthropogenic emissions and the consequences of their deposition to the functioning of the biogeophysical and biogeochemical systems of southern Africa.
  • South Africa: 1map (National, Online Geographic Information system)
     1map delivers base data for the whole of South Africa, including Erven Cadastre, Road Centre Lines, Comprehensive Street Addresses, and Aerial Photography via the Internet Anywhere, anytime.


  • MapCruzin
    ​GIS aggregation site including wide range of data for various areas of the world. Some datasets appears to be of low quality, but others are good.
  • South Asia Geologic Map
    This data set is the digital geologic layer for the map of South Asia. The data set includes arcs, polgons, polygon labels, and attributes for geology, faults, inferred faults, and rivers. The data set is compiled from numerous UNESCO geologic maps to assist in the assessment of oil and gas for the World Energy Project.


  • Australian Soil Resource Information System (ASRIS)
    The Atlas of Australian Soils (Northcote et al, 1960-68) was compiled by CSIRO in the 1960's to provide a consistent national description of Australia's soils. It comprises a series of ten maps and associated explanatory notes, compiled by K.H. Northcote and others. The maps are published at a scale of 1:2,000,000, but the original compilation was at scales from 1:250,000 to 1:500,000.
  • FIND - Australian Government’s spatial data catalogue
    From Geoscience Australia, the catalogue allows for searching and downloading of a wide range of spatially-referenced datasets (including reports, pdfs, etc) created by both the Australian and State and Territory Governments.
  • Geoscience Australia
    A wide range of spatial information products is available, including, general and thematic maps of Australia, outline maps, bathymetric maps, geophysical maps and geological maps.
  • Geoscience Australia Data and Publications Search
    Free (includes 250K topographic data in raster format). Registration required
  • MapConnect
    An interactive online mapping service allowing preview and downloads of the GEODATA TOPO 250K Series 3 data; from GA; 1:1mil scale maps; geological maps; and more.

Central America


  • Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Georeferenced Population Data Sets of Mexico
    Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) developed a population data collection for Mexico, drawing on a unique set of georeferenced population data and on Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. The Georeferenced Population Data Sets of Mexico consists of the following products: Population Database of Mexico; Urban Place, Time-Series Population Spreadsheet of Mexico; Urban Place GIS Coverage of Mexico; GIS Coverage of Mexican Localities; GIS Coverage of Mexican States; GIS Coverage of Mexican Municipalities; and Raster Based GIS Coverage of Mexican Population.
  • MapCruzin
    MapCruzin is an independent firm specializing in innovative Geographic Information System (GIS) projects, environmental and sociodemographic research, website development and hosting. Download Free Mexico Country, Cities and Places GIS Shapefile Map Layers.


  • EuroGeographics
    EuroGeographics is the membership association and acknowledged voice of the European National Mapping, Cadastre and Land Registry Authorities. Our purpose is to further the development of the European Spatial Data Infrastructure through collaboration in the area of geographic information and the representation of the its members and their capabilities.
  • European Data Portal
    The European Data Portal harvests the metadata of Public Sector Information available on public data portals across European countries. Information regarding the provision of data and the benefits of re-using data is also included.. Going beyond the harvesting of metadata, the strategic objective of the European Data Portal is to improve accessibility and increase the value of Open Data.
  • European Environment Agency Urban Atlas
    The Urban Atlas is providing pan-European comparable land use and land cover data for Large Urban Zones with more than 100.000 inhabitants as defined by the Urban Audit. The GIS data can be downloaded together with a map for each urban area covered and a report with the metadata.
  • European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC)
    This database (2004) is the only harmonized soil database for Europe, extending also to Eurasia. It contains a soil geographical database SGDBE (polygons) to which a number of essential soil attributes are attached, and an associate database PTRDB, with attributes which values have been derived through pedotransfer rules. Also part of the database is the Soil Profile Analytical Database, that contains measured and estimated soil profiles for Europe.
  • European Union Open Data Portal
    The European Union Open Data Portal (EU ODP) gives you access to open data published by EU institutions and bodies. All the data you can find via this catalogue are free to use and reuse for commercial or non-commercial purposes.
  • Geoss Portal
    The portal is implemented and operated by the European Space Agency and provides a single internet discovery and access point to the ever-growing quantities of heterogeneous collections of Earth observations from satellites, airplanes, drones and in-situ sensors at global, regional and local scales through the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
  • Inspire Geoportal: Enhancing access to European spatial data
    The INSPIRE Geoportal is the central European access point to the data provided by EU Member States and several EFTA countries under the INSPIRE Directive. The Geoportal allows: Enhancing access to European spatial data monitoring the availability of INSPIRE data sets; discovering suitable data sets based on their descriptions (metadata); accessing the selected data sets through their view or download servicesThe Urban Atlas is providing pan-European comparable land use and land cover data for Large Urban Zones with more than 100.000 inhabitants as defined by the Urban Audit. The GIS data can be downloaded together with a map for each urban area covered and a report with the metadata.
  • National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information
    A French public state administrative establishment founded in 1940 to produce and maintain geographical information for France and its overseas departments and territories. It is is responsible for the management and updating of: geodetic and levelling networks, aerial photographs, and geographical databases & maps. The French Cadastre delivers 1m and 5m DEM datasets under an open license. Technical specifications (in French) can be found here.

North America

  • Canada Natural Resources - GeoGratis
    GeoGratis is a website where you can find free maps, data, and publications to use without restriction.Download elevation and topographic data based on predefined or custom-defined geographic areas.Explore multiple layers of topographic data using tools for searching place names, measuring distances, getting coordinates and more.
  • Database of the Geologic Map of North America
    The Geological Society of America’s (GSA) Geologic Map of North America (Reed and others, 2005; 1:5,000,000) shows the geology of a significantly large area of the Earth, centered on North and Central America and including the submarine geology of parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
  • N.American Environmental Atlas
    Bathymetryelevation, shaded relief, glaciers, rivers, Rds, population, rail, watersheds and boundaries
  • North America Transportation Atlas Database
    Presents information about transportation facilities in Canada, Mexico, and the United States (each country provided its own geospatial data) for use with geographic information systems software. Transportation facilities represented include public-use highways, rail networks, airports, and water ports. Also included are state or province boundaries.

South America

  • Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)
    Administrative boundaries, census tracts, urban areas, Digital Municipal Grid, Grid of the Rural / Urban Enumeration Area.
  • GeoSUR Portal
    The GeoSUR Portal provides an entry point to spatial data published by Latin American and Caribbean agencies. The data may be consulted directly by means of partner map services, a regional map viewer contained in this portal or through various metadata services.

Data Request

Geospatial Data Consultant

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Ed Brooks
Room 3020 Newman Library

Virginia Tech
560 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, Va. 24061
(540) 231-9225

Geospatial Data Curator

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Imma Mwanja
Newman Library Room 3010
560 Drillfield Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061