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GeoCommons Relaunches

Been meaning to post about GeoCommons for quite a while now, and while I’d like to take credit for knowing that they had a major site reconstruction in order, it’s more like I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. GeoCommons lets you upload and map data in a number of formats:

  • Shapefile
  • KML (upload or web link)
  • Comma-separated variable CSV
  • GeoRSS (upload or web link)
  • RSS / ATOM (web link)

The “Commons” part comes because any data you upload is freely available to anyone else, so this isn’t a site for those who want to keep their data private or control it. Once uploaded, you can plot it in a variety of styles (with help from a Color Brewer color picker), against any number of available backgrounds:

  • Road:OpenStreetMap, Google, Bing, Yahoo, World Bank, MapQuest
  • Aerial: Google, Bing, Yahoo, NASA Blue Marble
  • Hybrid (roads and aerial): Google, Bing, Yahoo
  • Terrain: Google
  • Or a solid background color

Multiple layers can be plotted if desired. Once completed, you can send people to a permanent link at the GeoCommons page to view it, or embed it into a website (like below; feel free to scroll and zoom):

View full map

You can also view the data in 3D using the Google Earth browser plug-in.

I found the map creation process incredibly easy, but the data upload process needs some work. It took me five tries to get this fairly small Arizona faults shapefile uploaded; hopefully these bugs will be ironed out soon. This shapefile data was in geographic coordinates, WGS84; if you have shapefile data in any other coordinate system, you’ll need to upload  a .prj file with it; and if you don’t upload the .shx and .dbf files with your .shp file, it will ask for them. All other data formats have to be in latitude/longitude, WGS84 datum. And it will ask you for a substantial amount of metadata to be associated with the actual data files, although much of that isn’t mandatory.

Any data uploaded to GeoCommons can also be exported in shapefile, KML and CSV formats (Beta ATOM, JSON and Spatialite format export available). The recent release has also added address geocoding, time animation, and “GeoJoining” (connecting names with common datasets). A paid version of the service called GeoIQ offers a bigger feature set, including advanced analytical tools.

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1 Response to “GeoCommons Relaunches”

  1. 1 John

    Great post! Thanks for reminding me about GeoCommons. I didn’t realize the site would be redesigned and relaunched. It’s a great place to point library users who are looking for basic GIS data for any number of locations.

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