Internet Mapping Services

Research & Instructional Design

An Internet Mapping Service allows government and other agencies to provide access to maps and other data  through a web site. This information can be viewed online or often downloaded as data layers for other maps.


The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has produced the Atlas of Urban Expansion which provides information about the geographic and quantitative dimensions of urban expansion and its key attributes in cities the world over.

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project is the most comprehensive public collection of political violence and protest data for developing states (currently Africa and South Asia).

Federal Government Mapping Services

Investigate census data easily via American Factfinder, provided by the Census Bureau.  There is also a new web site for the American Community Survey.

The USGS manages the National Map — “the nation's topographic map for the 21st century.”

State and Metropolitan Mapping Services

Almost every state and large metropolitan area now has an internet mapping service to provide public access to geospatial data collected at the taxpayers’ expense. Your best approach is to search (for example, using Google or other search engine of your choice) for the phrase “GIS” and whatever state or locality you are interested in.

For example, a search for “GIS and Chicago” will result in (among others) the City of Chicago GIS page. If you perform the same search with the search terms “GIS and Boston,” you will discover that all Boston information is simply part of Massachusetts GIS, a state agency (though you might also want to check out the blog Bostonography).   Some state departments might have their own services, such as the NYS DEC Mapping Gateway.  Some web sites develop as part of specific policy initiatives, such as Data-Driven Detroit, the Syracuse Community Geography project,  or The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. As a final example, here is an entire page of IMS sites found by looking for information on New York City and GIS.

Thematically-Related Mapping Services

One may also find a wealth of information by looking for mapping resources related to a particular event or theme. For example, here is a page of resources on Hurricane Katrina and Other Natural Disasters.  And here is a page of resources related to the Adirondack Mountains and the Adirondack Park.


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Last updated: September 13, 2017

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