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Stanford Geospatial Center resources for teaching and learning: Data sources

This guide serves as the main information portal for the Stanford Geospatial Center's Support, Services and Collections

Spatial Data Sources

Earthworks: Discover Stanford's GIS data and maps


Earthworks is Stanford University Library's portal for discovery and distribution of geospatial data. Earthworks provides federated search of more than a dozen other research collections and direct access to data for download. Earthworks currently contains records for over 92,000 spatial datasets and cartographic resources, with over 60,000 of those freely available under permissive licensing.

SimplyAnalytics is a web-based mapping, analytics, and data visualization application that makes it easy for anyone to create interactive maps, charts, and reports using 100,000+ data variables. SimplyAnalytic’s intuitive analysis tools generate detailed custom maps and reports for any location in the country. Add individual data variables or entire groups of variables and generate a report in seconds, or create a ring study report illustrating the characteristics of the 1-, 3-, and 5-mile radius surrounding your target location. Rank locations, apply filters to maps and reports, and create custom study areas to further hone your research.

SimplyAnalytics Data

SimplyAnalytics has all the data you need to answer key research questions, make sound business decisions, and understand the socio-demographic and economic conditions of any geographic area in the United States and Canada. We currently offer more than 75,000 data variables related to demographics, employment, housing, market segments, businesses, consumer spending, brand preferences, public health, and more from industry-leading data vendors.

Accessing from Off-Campus is an IP restricted resource and requires authentication on the Stanford Network, using VPN or a Proxy server. The easiest way to access from off-campus is to install the "Lean Libraries" browser extension:, then go to and create an account using your email address. 

Through the Open Data Commons Open Database License 1.0, OpenStreetMap (OSM) contributors own, modify and share data publicly. There are many other free maps on the Internet, but most have legal or technical restrictions preventing others from using the data openly. With OSM both the maps and underlying data can be downloaded for free, for developers or anyone to use or redistribute. Additionally, in many places of the world where there is no commercial motivation to develop this data, OSM is often the best available resource.

Editing and Contributing to OpenStreetMap:


Querying & Retrieving Data from OpenStreetMap:

  • overpass-turbo - a web-based data filtering tool for OpenStreetMap. With overpass turbo you can run Overpass API queries and analyse the resulting OSM data interactively on a map. There is an integrated Wizard which makes creating queries super easy. More information about overpass turbo and how to write Overpass queries can be found in the OSM wiki.

  • OpenStreetMap Data Extracts - This server has data extracts from the OpenStreetMap project which are normally updated every day. Select your continent and then your country of interest.
  • Planet OSM: - The files found here are regularly-updated, complete copies of the database, and those published before the 12 September 2012 are distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license, those published after are Open Data Commons Open Database License 1.0 licensed. 

Natural Earth is a public domain map dataset 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.

Data themes are available in three levels of detail. For each scale, themes are listed on Cultural, Physical, and Raster category pages.

Overwhelmed? The Natural Earth quick start kit (227 mb) provides a small sample of Natural Earth themes styled in an ArcMap .MXD document and in a QGIS document. Download all vector themes as SHP (279 mb), SQLite (222 mb), or GeoPackage (260 mb).

Natural Earth is the creation of many volunteers and is supported by NACIS. It is free for use in any type of project. Full Terms of Use »

Large scale data, 1:10m


Cultural Physical Raster

The most detailed. Suitable for making zoomed-in maps of countries and regions. Show the world on a large wall poster.

1″ = 158 miles
1 cm = 100 km

Medium scale data, 1:50m


Cultural Physical Raster

Suitable for making zoomed-out maps of countries and regions. Show the world on a tabloid size page.

1″ = 790 miles
1 cm = 500 km

Small scale data, 1:110m


Cultural Physical

Suitable for schematic maps of the world on a postcard or as a small locator globe.

1″ = 1,736 miles
1 cm = 1,100 km

HDX: The Humanitarian Data Exchange

Over 17,000 Datasets

The Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) is an open platform for sharing data across crises and organizations. Launched in July 2014, the goal of HDX is to make humanitarian data easy to find and use for analysis. Our growing collection of datasets has been accessed by users in over 200 countries and territories. Watch this video to learn more.

HDX is managed by OCHA's Centre for Humanitarian Data, which is located in The Hague. OCHA is part of the United Nations Secretariat and is responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. The HDX team includes OCHA staff and a number of consultants who are based in North America, Europe and Africa.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases Data: is the new platform to access data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The vision for is to improve the customer experience by making data available from one centralized place so that data users spend less time searching for data content and more time using it.

TIGER/Line Shapefiles

TIGER/Line Shapefiles: - TIGER/Line Shapefiles do not include demographic data, but they do contain geographic entity codes (GEOIDs) that can be linked to the Census Bureau’s demographic data, available on American FactFinder.

A planetary-scale platform for Earth science data & analysis

Earth Engine's public data archive includes more than forty years of historical imagery and scientific datasets, updated and expanded daily.

Climate and Weather

Surface Temperature

Thermal satellite sensors can provide surface temperature and emissivity information. The Earth Engine data catalog includes both land and sea surface temperature products derived from several spacecraft sensors, including MODIS, ASTER, and AVHRR, in addition to raw Landsat thermal data.


Climate models generate both long-term climate predictions and historical interpolations of surface variables. The Earth Engine catalog includes historical reanalysis data from NCEP/NCAR, gridded meteorological datasets like NLDAS-2, and GridMET, and climate model outputs like the University of Idaho MACAv2-METDATA and the NASA Earth Exchange’s Downscaled Climate Projections.


You can use atmospheric data to help correct image data from other sensors, or you can study it in its own right. The Earth Engine catalog includes atmospheric datasets such as ozone data from NASA's TOMS and OMI instruments and the MODIS Monthly Gridded Atmospheric Product.


Weather datasets describe forecasted and measured conditions over short periods of time, including precipitation, temperature, humidity, and wind, and other variables. Earth Engine includes forecast data from NOAA's Global Forecast System (GFS) and the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFSv2), as well as sensor data from sources like the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM).



Landsat, a joint program of the USGS and NASA, has been observing the Earth continuously from 1972 through the present day. Today the Landsat satellites image the entire Earth's surface at a 30-meter resolution about once every two weeks, including multispectral and thermal data.


The Copernicus Program is an ambitious initiative headed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). The Sentinels include all-weather radar images from Sentinel-1A and -1B, high-resolution optical images from Sentinel 2A and 2B, as well as ocean and land data suitable for environmental and climate monitoring from Sentinel 3.


The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites have been acquiring images of the Earth daily since 1999, including daily imagery, 16-day BRDF-adjusted surface reflectance, and derived products such as vegetation indices and snow cover.

High-Resolution Imagery

High-resolution imagery captures the finer details of landscapes and urban environments. The US National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) offers aerial image data of the US at one-meter resolution, including nearly complete coverage every several years since 2003.



Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) describe the shape of Earth’s terrain. The Earth Engine data catalog contains several global DEMs such as Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data at 30-meter resolution, regional DEMs at higher resolutions, and derived products such as the WWF's HydroSHEDS hydrology database.

Land Cover

Land cover maps describe the physical landscape in terms of land cover classes such as forest, grassland, and water. Earth Engine includes a wide variety land cover datasets, including global products such as NASA's MODIS-derived annual land cover maps and ESA's GlobCover, as well as higher-resolution national products such as the USGS National Land Cover Database.


Cropland data is key to understanding global water consumption and agricultural production. Earth Engine includes a number of cropland data products such as the USDA NASS Cropland Data Layers, as well as layers from the Global Food Security-Support Analysis Data (GFSAD) including cropland extent, crop dominance, and watering sources.

Other geophysical data

Data from other satellite image sensors is available in Earth Engine as well, including night-time imagery from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program's Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS), which has collected imagery of night-time lights at approximately 1-kilometer resolution continuously since 1992.