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Syracuse University Libraries

GEO 383/683 - Geographic Information Systems (Spring 2023): Types of GIS data

Guide to help locate needed geospatial resources on the web.

What is Numeric data

Data table

Numeric data is statistical data which includes a geographical component or field that can be joined with vector files so the data can be queried and displayed as a map in a GIS. The most common type of numeric data is demographic data from the US Census.

What is Raster data

Raster image file

Raster data is data in a .JPG, .TIF, .GIF or similar format. Items scanned using a flatbed scanner like this map are examples of raster files. Images taken with a digital camera produce these same types of files.

What is Vector data

Vector data layer file

Vector data is data that has a spatial component, or X,Y coordinates assigned to it. Vector files can contain sets of points, lines, or polygons that are referenced in a geographic space.

All Elements Together

Vector, data and raster layers combined

Polygons (properties), lines (streets), points (trees) and raster images (air photo) are integrated into one map.

Layers in a GIS

An example of data layers that can be used in a GIS

This is a schematic of the various types of layers that can be used in a GIS.