Monday, December 12, 2016

Massachusetts Interactive Mapping & Geographical Data Tools

Geographical mapping technology has gone a long way in just a short 30 years.  Many interactive tools have been or are being developed and data can now be updated quickly—sometimes even through live raw data feeds.  Data can also be manipulated and shared openly with users through web viewers and downloadable formats (shapefiles, Keyhole Markup Language (KML), etc.) so that it can be integrated into other projects.

Massachusetts state agencies, such as the Office of Geographic Information (MassGIS) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), have developed interactive mapping tools that are available for use by the public.  There’s a little bit of a learning curve when first attempting to use them, however just exploring their different functionalities is a lot of fun and often produces interesting results.  In addition to the tools linked below, use the search bar to find mapping tools other agencies provide (keywords such as “geographic information” and “GIS tool” are great starting points.)

Massachusetts' bedrock lithology as detailed through data layer
group B, using MassGIS' Oliver Online Map Maker.

Office of Geographic Information (MassGIS) tools:
  • Oliver: The MassGIS Online Map Maker:  Allows users to “interactively display and query nearly all of MassGIS’ data” and download up-to-date shapefiles from the database.
  • ArcGIS Online Web Mapping Platform:  “A statewide database of geospatial information.”  Interactive tools include Google Ortho Imagery and Index, MassUtilities, Surficial Geology, and property maps.
  • MassGIS Datalayers:  Datalayer descriptions with metadata and links to free downloadable data.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation tools:

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department