Spatial Data Resources

Branner Earth Sciences Library and the Stanford Geospatial Center host a comprehensive set of base and thematic spatial data as well as a large collection of static maps. Please contact us to get a tour of the SGC data collection or set up a data research reference appointment.

Earthworks Demo

Earthworks is Stanford University Library's portal for discovery and distribution of geospatial data. Earthworks provides federated search of more than a dozen other research collections and direct access to data for download. Earthworks currently contains records for over 72,000 spatial datasets and cartographic resources, with over 58,000 of those freely available under permissive licensing.


Using Stanford's Geocoding Service

The Stanford Geospatial Center maintains an ArcGIS Server-based geocoding service for research and teaching use. This service is meant to be used for bulk geocoding of thousands to millions of placenames and/or addresses in North America.

To access the Address Locator services:

  1. In ArcCatalog, or the Catalog Panel in ArcMap, expand the GIS Servers item
  2. Double-click the Add ArcGIS Server item
  3. Leave the default "Use GIS Services" option, click Next>
  4. For the 'Server URL' use:
  5. For 'User Name' use your SUNetID (prefixed with the 'WIN' domain) as WIN\SUNetID
  6. Enter the password associated with your SUNetID and check the option to Save Username/Password
  7. Click Finish

You should then be able to use the various Address Locator Services for bulk geocoding in ArcGIS.

What's Currently Available on

The address locators inside the geocode folder include a Composite (capable of street addresses and postal codes) service for North America and separate services for U.S. Street Addresses and Postal Codes. There are also street address, placename and administrative unit locators for Brazil.

The address locators in the Rio folder include Address Locators built by The Spatial History Project at Stanford's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA). For more information about these geocoding services, see the Spatial History Project's Rio de Janeiro Historical Address Locator page.

Are You an R User?

Stanford Library's Claudia Engel maintains a repo with scripts for using the Stanford Geocoding Service in R. Find them here:

For More Information

For more information about the Geocoding Process in ArcGIS, see Esri's What is Geocoding? Guide.

Accessing Stanford's Subscription to's Daily Satellite Imagery

Planet is the leader in the current "small sat" revolution in Earth imaging. With a growing constellation of 200+ "Doves," Planet is able to image the Earth's landmass at 3m pixel resolution, once every day. This high cadence, medium-high resolution imagery is well suited to monitoring applications, semantic segmentation and traditional remote sensing applications. 

The Stanford Geospatial Center manages Stanford's Enterprise account, which provides access to Planet's PlanetScope, RapidEye and monthly/quarterly composite basemap services. Access is intended for small research projects, and primarily intended for student's use in research and coursework. 

Stanford researchers may request access to the Planet Enterprise Account by submitting this form: Stanford Enterprise Account Access Request Form

For more information about Planet and their "daily image of the Earth" see


Planet Imagery Product Specifications: Training & Other Materials:  

Other Data Sources

Below is a categorized set of links to free online spatial data organized by type of geography (Physical and Human) and sub grouped into data themes.

The sites listed here are some of the more commonly used, interesting, or hard to find GIS data online. This is not a comprehensive list and is always evolving. We are always looking for more links to good data. So if you know a website that offers free GIS Data to download or discover one of our links is not working, please let us know.

Physical Geography


Natural Earth Data Integrated raster and vector base data for the entire world at 3 scales (1:10 million, 1:50 million, and 1:110 million). Includes coastlines, continents, small islands, rivers, lakes, reefs, glaciers, bathymetry etc. Excellent cartographic base data for regional to global scale maps.

Diva GIS Data download by country. Includes water features, elevation, landcover.

UNEP Environmental Data Explorer  United Nations Environment Program Data Explorer including Global Forest Cover, Global Potential Evapotranspiration, Global Average Monthly Temperatures, Dams, Watershed Boundaries and more.


Bedmap2 Elevation surfaces for Antarctica. Includes surface elevations, ice-thickness, sea floor and sub-glacial elevations.

CGIAR 90m elevation data for the world.

GMTED multi resolution elevation data for teh world.


GEBCO General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans. Gridded global bathymetric data at 30 arc seconds and 1 arc minute.


Climate Research Unit  Global and regional climatological data. Temperature, precipitation, pressure, drought, paleo climate.


USGS Earthquake hazards data.


Remote Pixel (Landsat and Sentinel 2 downloader)


Human Geography


FAO GeoNetwork Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, GIS data clearinghouse. Includes data on agriculture, livestock, aquaculture, ocean fishing, forestry, ecology, soils, land use and land cover.

Natural Earth Data Integrated raster and vector base data for the entire world at 3 scales (1:10 million, 1:50 million, and 1:110 million). Includes administrative boundaries, roads, populated places, disputed areas, airports, railroads, urban areas.

Administrative Boundaries

GADM Global Administrative Boundaries database. Spatial database of the location of the world's administrative areas.


World Database of Large Urban Areas Historic, current and future estimates and projections with number of inhabitants for the world's largest urban areas from 1950-2050

Gridded Population of the World  Depicts the distribution of human population across the globe. Provides globally consistent and spatially explicit human population information and data for use in research, policy making, and communications.

NASA Night Lights  Composite imagery of the earth's lights at night. Lights approximate human distribution over the earth.

Simply Analytics Internet-based mapping application that enables users to develop interactive thematic maps and reports using thousands of demographic, business, and marketing data variables. Stanford users only.


World Port Index Location and physical characteristics of approximately 3700 major ports and terminals around the world.

Global Roads SEDAC global open roads GIS data. The data set combines the best available roads data by country into a global roads coverage.