Geographic data

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Geographic data is information describing the location and attributes of things, including their shapes and representation. Geographic data is the composite of spatial data and attribute data.[1]

The geographic data that describes our world allows for city planning, flood prediction and relief, emergency service routing, environmental assessments, wind pattern monitoring and many other applications.

Geographic data is processed with Geographic information system (GIS) software which can, as one aspect of its functioning, produce maps.

In the United States, geographic data collected by central government is made available free of copyright for no more than the cost of distribution. The United States Census Bureau's TIGER Mapsurfer provides a web service and also offers data free for download. TIGER allows you to build a geocoding facility with which to spatially locate addresses. Given the ability to geocode street addresses and other features, one can create a lot of interesting spatial analysis, location-based service, political campaigning apps and localised search services.

In the EU there is a European Union directive (INSPIRE directive) to establish shared standards between the different countries, accompanied by web viewing of rendered map data, and an as yet unspecified license framework for geographic data.


  1. Wade, T. and Sommer, S. eds. A to Z GIS: An illustrated dictionary of geographic information systems, ESRI Press, 2006

See also