Manipulating geodata

If you’re a planner, a student, or an engineer, you will use geographic data. Sometimes you’ll require special skills to perform a task but more often than not you will need to simply convert or display the data. These tools (most of them online) will help you.

Shapefile (SHP)

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Tools

Keyhole Markup Language (KML)

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Tools

  • BatchGeocode.com – Forward and reverse geocode addresses and geographic coordinates. Input tabular data copied directly from your spreadsheet (in Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice.org Calc, or Google Docs). Download results as a Google Earth and Maps-compatible KML file or copy back into your spreadsheet. The web application even allows for simple grouping (to which it will apply unique map icons).

Geographic Positioning System (GPS)

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Tools

  • GPS Visualizer – “A free, easy-to-use online utility that creates maps and profiles from GPS data (tracks and waypoints, including GPX files), street addresses, or simple coordinates. Use it to see where you’ve been, plan where you’re going, or visualize geographic data (business locations, scientific observations, events, customers, real estate, geotagged photos, ‘GPS drawing,’ etc.).”

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Alternatives to ESRI ArcGIS

  • QGIS
  • uDig
  • GRASS
  • GeoCommons – completely online.

Tips

Projection – Be observant of the project that data you obtained comes in. Then learn which coordinate reference systems and projections are common for that type of data and that location. For Chicago, you will most often use NAD83 / Illinois East (ftUS), with an EPSG ID of 3435.

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