GIS Data Sources

Helpful Resources for Beginners

If you are new to GIS and GIS Data, here are a few articles and GIS Data Sources to get you started with some extra information: 

ArcGIS Online

There is a great deal of data and other content on ArcGIS Online but since anyone can post data without review, some of it is of low quality or is not documented. Some layers that look useful for analysis are imagery layers or tiled layers (image map services) do not have downloadable data and are just pictures. To look for data you can download, try adding the text "type:layer" or "type:raster" to your search text (leave out the quotes). If in Pro, click the Living Atlas button. (ArcGIS Pro has new portal search capability with filters that makes this easier.) If using, click the box for authoritative data and makes sure you toggle the button to look outside of your organization, if you are in one. Make sure to always check your data and make sure it is from authoritative sources and includes documentation, as this will give you the most accurate and the best quality data! For more info, visit ArcGIS Online Help: advanced search.

US Data and Other Reputable Sources

While this is not a complete list of all reputable data sources for the U.S., here are a few sites to take a look at if you are looking for data. There are many other data sources for other countries (and planets!) that you can also find on the web, as well. If you are looking for GIS Data for certain states (or other countries), you can usually find data by going to the states official site and searching for GIS Data or searching the United States Geological Survey (USGS) websites for the individual state. 

If you are a Faculty Member, Staff Member, or Student at South Dakota Mines and would like to access our ESRI License specific data files, contact Victoria Karnes ( for more information.