GIS Data in Iowa — Big (12) Data

By Casey J. McLaughlin

We are well past the “Bowl Season” and March Madness is right around the corner; it is past time we look at some great data sources from the Hawkeye State (sorry Cyclones, that’s what Wikipedia calls it!).  In the past, I would start looking for specific data using a general search engine but today, Iowa.gov is a great entry point for all Iowa data.  I will highlight a few that I have found the most useful.

The Iowa Geographic Map Server housed at Iowa State (Go Cyclones!) serves a fantastic range of aerial imagery products including images from the today to the 1930’s!  The images can be viewed online through their web viewer, downloaded, or consumed directly.  The variety of imagery available is amazing (I might have said that already) but I’m excited that it is available to use directly or downloadable giving users to choose what they need.  I have not had occasion to use the Iowa Historic Vegetation map but how great is having data from 1832-1859 available??

The Natural resources Geographic Information is brought to you by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and housed at the University of Iowa (home of the Hawkeyes whom, I must note, reside in the Big 10 conference but they currently have 12 members).  The NRGIS is organized with counties in mind as data can be searched and retrieved not only by general theme, but also by county.  If I need GIS data for a county, this is where I start, especially since they’ve already clipped all of the data.  I am intrigued by historical imagery and have really enjoyed using the Andreas 1875 historical atlas data.  You can also view the maps courtesy of the David Rumsey Collection.

Map of Humboldt County, State of Iowa. (Published by the Andreas Atlas Co., Lakeside Building, Chicago, Ills. Engraved & printed by Chas. Shober & Co., Props. of Chicago Lithographing Co.) 1875. Hosted by the David Rumsey Collection

Iowa has strongly supported the public distribution of their data and they have lot of great data out there, what are your favorite Iowa GIS data sets?  Are there other sources you’d recommend?

Casey McLaughlin is a first generation Geospatial Enthusiast who has worked with EPA since 2003 as a contractor and now as the Regional GIS Lead. He currently holds the rank of #1 GISer in EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.

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