Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

The American Factfinder: A Brief Demonstration


If you have address-based data that you wish to map in GIS, you'll need to assign latitude and longitude coordinates to your data so you can plot them as points. Baruch affiliates can contact the geospatial librarian for assistance.

Data Formats

Vector: discrete coordinates and surfaces represented as points, lines, or polygons (areas). File formats: shapefiles, geoJSON, KMLs

Example of Vector Data

Raster: continuous surface divided into grid cells of equal size. File formats: Geotiff, tiff, JPG

Example of Raster Data

Tables: data tables that contain records for places that can be converted by plotting coordinates or joining identifiers to a vector file. File formats: delimited text files, spreadsheets, data tables

Eaxmple of Tabular Data

Geodatabase: collection of vectors, rasters, and tables in a database file. File formats: ArcGIS GDB, SQLite, PostGIS

Compressed files: containers that hold several data files. File formats: ZIP, TAR.

GIS Data

In order to use GIS software, you'll have to download and add some GIS data. This page shows you the different GIS file formats and types and provides you with a number of online sources for accessing data. Some general places to start:

Baruch Geoportal

This is Baruch's GIS data repository. Includes a mix of public and Baruch-only datasets:

  • China Data Center - features, boundaries, and census data for China (Baruch only)
  • ESRI data - features for the world, US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe (some public)
  • IRS Migration Databases - annual county to county and state to state migration flows (public)
  • NYC Geodatabase - geodatabase of NYC features and neighborhood-level census data (public)
  • NYC Transit Spatial Layers - city and metro area transportation features including: buses, subways, and trains (public)
  • NYC Geocoded Real Estate Sales - location of every property sold in NYC for over a dozen years (public)
  • US Census Population Centroids - point features representing the center of a population's distribution (public)

Free International Data

Free US Data

Geospatial Data Librarian

Frank Donnelly's picture
Frank Donnelly
Newman Library
151 E 25th Street
Box H-0520
New York, NY 10010
(646) 312-1657

Free NY State Data

Free NYC Data