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GIS Spatial Data U.S.


Hobart and William Smith Colleges GIS Software

Hobart and William Smith has access to an ESRI Educational Site License. ArcGIS for desktop is part of all PC computers in public lab spaces. 

Faculty may request to have ArcGIS desktop installed to their work machines. Students may request to have a one-year student user license be installed to their personal machine. Details on completing this process may be found here

ArcGIS Online for Organizations

As part of the Educational Site License Hobart and William Smith have access to ArcGIS Online for Organizations

This is spatial content management system where users can create maps from layers, upload their own spatial information, share ArcGIS for Desktop project files (.MXD) and create map-based presentations and apps. ArcGIS Onlie or ArcOnline provides a web-based platform to perform basic spatial analyses. 

ArcOnline can also be used to create a storymap app. A storymap app leverages spatial data on a map to generate a multimedia mapping story experience. To read more click here

In addition an account in ArcOnline will provide users with access to Community Analyst and Business Analyst. Both extensions allow users to add demographic information to their ArcOnline maps as customized layers. 

If you are interested and would like an account, please submit a Help Desk request and an account will be generated for you. An e-mail will be sent to individual users notifying them that their account is ready and can be accessed.

Open Source Geospatial Software

There are several tools that are free of charge and are very good options for performing spatial data analysis and telling map-based stories. 

Desktop Software


Quantum GIS is a desktop software that provides a full range of spatial analysis options for both vector and raster spatial data types. Numerous extensions are available. A robust user community provides reliable support for this free GIS tool. This tool is available for both Mac and PC software platforms. 


An open source GIS desktop software program that provides a robust spatial data management and analysis experience. MapWindow has a smaller user base; but is a reliable and stable open-source choice. Windows platform only. 

Webmapping GIS 


CartoDB is a cloud-based GIS tool that provides the user with basic to advanced cartography tools. Data can be managed on the user desktop with Excel or Open Office (in CSV format). Maps can also be generated from linked Google Spreadsheet tables. 

With an account on CartoDB you can leverage the mapping capabilities and Odyssey.js library to create a storymap. To learn more about Odyssey.js click here


MapStory is a cloud-based open source mapping platform specifically designed for the creation of a map-based story. 


Open Street Map is an open-source and crowd-sourced web map. Users can update the map. Data can be downloaded to be used in desktop GIS Software. 


For a more complete list of open-source Geo-spatial mapping software options; please consult the list posted by users at the GIS User Lounge Blog here