• March 15th, 2016


Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements

Next, brainstorm for a moment about a geographic problem that you think GIS might be helpful for studying. Think back to the early lessons in this class about what makes a problem geographic/spatial — it must have something to do with location and how location influences the problem. If necessary, re-read through Lesson 1 and 2 for a review.

For example:

What endangered species are located near where you live?

Where are new development proposals located in your city?

What counties in Michigan have the highest percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 21?

What cities have the highest poverty rates in the country?

Searching for Datasets

  1. There are several ways that you can search for geographic datasets. Finding a geographic dataset appropriate for your use can take searching for them in several sources. Here are a few things to try:
  2. Just a basic search of Google using appropriate keywords for the datasets you would like to find. (some examples of search phrases are “City of San Diego GIS data”, “Michigan GIS shapefiles”, and “Endangered species GIS data”. [NOTE: results from these search terms are NOT acceptable for this assignment; you need to perform your own search for full credit].
  3. Visiting the websites of government agencies, non-profit organizations, et cetera. These organizations frequently post geographic data related to their “mission” on their websites. Consider the scale of your geographic problem when looking for relevant datasets — for example, your local planning and development office may have some datasets for your city, while on the other hand, the United States Census Bureau is a better place to look for datasets for the entire country.
  4. You can also search through repositories of geographic datasets from online sources including (but certainly not limited to):
  5. http://geodata.tufts.edu/
  6. http://geocommons.com/


  1. For this assignment, you will locate and choose two (2) geographic datasets and answer the questions that follow. If the metadata that we ask you to review does not provide the information to answer the questions, please state that in your D2L assignment form and reflect upon why this may be problematic for using this dataset.

Dataset #1

Question 1.  Name and source of dataset. For the source, name the organization or data portal where you found the website, and include a weblink (URL) to the geographic dataset. If the dataset does not have a direct link, include a link to the source of the dataset (for example, the website where you found the dataset).(0.5 points each, 1 point total)

Dataset name:

Dataset source and URL:

Question 2. Provide a brief (2-3 sentences) description of this dataset. For example, what information is included? At what scale is the data (a local area, regional, national, et cetera)? (2 points)


Question 3. Take a look at the metadata for the dataset and answer the following questions. Recall learning about metadata in Lesson 9, Page 9, and textbook page 123. (0.5 point each; 2 points total)

3a. When was this dataset created?


3b. What projection/datum is it in?


3c. What is the contact information for the person/organization responsible for updating the dataset, or for contacting if you have questions about the data?


3d. Look at the attribute descriptions. Recall learning about attributes and attribute tables from Page 5 of Lesson 8, as well as pages 119-121 of your textbook. Choose one attribute and list its more detailed description.

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