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About the Geoportal


The BTAA Geoportal is a catalog that makes it easier to find geospatial resources.

Geospatial data and tools are increasingly important in academic research and education. With the growing number of GIS datasets and digitized historical maps available, it can be challenging to locate the right resources since they are scattered across various platforms and not always tagged with the necessary metadata for easy discovery. To address this issue, the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geospatial Data Project launched in 2015 to connect scholars with geospatial resources.

One of the primary outputs of the project is the BTAA Geoportal, a comprehensive index of tens of thousands of geospatial resources from hundreds of sources. The Geoportal enables users to search by map, keyword, and category, providing access to scanned maps, digital GIS data, aerial imagery, and interactive mapping applications. All of the resources available through the Geoportal are free and open, and the scanned maps cover countries around the world. Most of the data in the catalog is sourced from local governments, such as states, counties, and cities.

The Geoportal is a useful tool because finding local geospatial data through a simple Google search can be difficult due to the lack of visibility of these datasets. The problem is that users need to know which agency is responsible for creating and distributing the data they are looking for and visit that agency's website to access the datasets. For instance, if you are researching a particular neighborhood in a city and need data on the roads, parks, parcels, and city council ward boundaries, you might need to check different state agencies, the city or the county website. But with the Geoportal, you can easily search by What, Where, and When without worrying about the Who or Why.

Overall, the BTAA Geoportal provides an easy and comprehensive way for scholars to find and access geospatial resources from various sources, enabling them to focus on their research rather than the time-consuming task of finding the right data.