Library:HSS GIS Finding Data

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Free Data on the Web

To download commonly-used datasets, check out UBC's Geomatics website, which has links to web pages with downloadable data.

Some common data sources:

City of Vancouver data: Vancouver Open Data Catalogue
BC Provincial data: DataBC Catalogue
Canada national data: GeoGratis

Census Data and GIS

See our guide on downloading census data from Abacus, formatting the data, and bringing it into GIS to join with census boundary shapefiles: Census Data and GIS

UBC Library's Data Collection (Abacus)

We've paid the fees and/or signed the licenses for you. Datasets are available to UBC students, faculty and staff through Abacus.

For help with Abacus, see the "Using Abacus" tab.

GIS datasets include:

Census of Canada data and geographic boundaries
Esri base map data (political boundaries, cities, rivers, roads, etc.)
CanMap Route Logistics and Streetfiles (detailed base map and transportation files)
1995 Orthophotos of the Lower Mainland
And more...

Using Google

Freely downloadable GIS data is typically found on government or non-profit organization websites.
Common tricks for Google searches include:

Add 'GIS', 'shapefile', or 'spatial data' to a search.
Add '' to limit your search to Canadian federal government sites
Add '' to limit your search to BC provincial government sites

Find advanced search tips on Google's Search Help page.