5 of the Best GIS Open Data Sources

A fundamental step of conducting a GIS analysis is obtaining good source of data. Without reliable data, we can’t produce a reliable analysis – in other words, it’s “trash in, trash out” – so here is a round up of some of the best GIS open data sources we’ve found.


1.  Humanitarian Data Exchange

The Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) is an open platform for sharing humanitarian data. They define humanitarian data as:

  • data about the context in which a humanitarian crisis is occurring (such as baseline/development data, damage assessments, and geospatial data)
  • data about the people affected by the crisis and their needs
  • data about the response by organisations and people seeking to help those in need of assistance

The HDX is the ideal place to go if you’re looking for a dataset on current events.

2. Natural Earth

Natural Earth has a collection of raster and vector map data for Earth’s physical features. The data is available at multiple levels of detail and includes coastline, land, glaciated areas, and bathymetry.


If you’re after human geography data on individual countries, check out DIVA-GIS.

Simply select a country from their drop down list, then all the data associated with that country can be downloaded as a zip file. Their data includes administrative areas, roads, elevation, land cover, and population.

DIVA-GIS is probably the best place to go if you want a simple set of data for a specific country.

4. NASA Lansat

If you’re not familiar with NASA’s Landsat images, you’re either new to the field of GIS or have been working under a rock.

Most satellite images you find online would have came from Landsat, so getting your data from this source gives you direct access to the data. However, bear in mind that there’s no instant access, you have to request the data you want first.

5. Free GIS Data

Finally, the list of all lists: Free GIS Data. Free GIS Data is an aggregated list of, you guess it, all the free GIS data out there!

The list was created by Robin Wilson, a researcher at the University of Southampton. You can find a variety of physical geography, human geography, and country-specific data – it’s an absolute goldmine!

6. Mappt Elements

Yes our new free iOS mapping app, available on your iPhone has access to live weather feeds, Spookfish imagery, random shape files, vector and raster data, 330,000 USGS GeoPDfs and more. The app has in-app purchases so you only pay for the maps you need.

Mappt Elements goal is to eventually become a place where people go for maps and geographic data of any kind.

Try Mappt Elements today.


The best part about these sources is you can load all the datasets straight into Mappt, and take them offline into the field! 

We hope this helps you with your search for good data. If you’d like us to create more in-depth reviews of specific data sources, let us know in the comment box below.

Download your free trial of Mappt today!


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