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GeoData@Tufts is developed and maintained by Tufts University Information Technology. Tufts is leading the development in collaboration with Harvard of this open source, federated web application to rapidly discover, preview, and retrieve geospatial data from multiple repositories. GeoData@Tufts combines an intuitive, map-based search interface along with traditional text-based metadata search tools for rapid data discovery and for use in teaching, learning, and research.

GeoData@Tufts is part of The Open Geoportal. The Open Geoportal is a consortium comprised of contributions of several universities and organizations to help facilitate the discovery and acquisition of geospatial data across many organizations and platforms. Current partners include: Harvard, MIT, MassGIS, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Yale, and UConn. Built on open source technology, The Open Geoportal provides organizations the opportunity to share thousands of geospatial data layers, maps, metadata, and development resources through a single common interface.

For questions or problems of access, please contact

For questions or problems of access, please contact

Project Management:

Joy Suh, MA, MLIS

Geospatial Resources Librarian, Digital Scholarship Center, George Mason University

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

  2. Searching For Data

    1. Working With The Map

      1. Global Zoom

      2. Back

      3. Forward

      4. Zoom In

      5. Pan

      6. Zoom Slider Bar

    2. The Search Results Tab

    3. Two Ways to Search

      1. Using the Map to Search

      2. Text Search

        1. Basic Search

        2. Advanced Search

          1. Where

          2. Keyword(s)

          3. Originator

          4. Ignore Map Extent

          5. Data Type

          6. Year Range

          7. Topic

          8. Repository

          9. Include Restricted Data

    4. Helpful Hints for Finding Data

    5. Search Tab Preferences

      1. Collapse Left

      2. Expand Right

  3. Map Preferences

    1. Save Image

    2. Print

    3. Basemap Selector

  4. Previewing Layers

  5. The Cart: Retrieving Datasets

    1. Remove

    2. Download

    3. Web Services

    4. Share

    5. Map It

  6. The OpenGeoPortal Interface

    1. Reset

    2. Help

    3. Contact

    4. Login

  1. Overview

    The OpenGeoportal was collaboratively developed as an open source, federated web application to discover, preview, and retrieve geospatial data from different repositories. Several of the country's leading universities and a state agency have formed a partnership to make thousands of geospatial data layers available through a single, open source interface. The application also incorporates some new innovative search techniques. Partners include Tufts, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, MassGIS, Stanford and UC Berkeley. The single interface is skinnable and may have slight differences in appearance based on the institution hosting the application.

  2. Searching for Data

    1. Working With The Map

      A set of buttons that display above the map allows you to switch or manipulate the current view.

      1. Global Zoom Restores the highest level view available

      2. Back Backs you up to previously viewed map extents

      3. Forward Moves you through subsequent map extents

      4. Zoom In switches the cursor to a magnifying glass icon which, when clicked, zooms in to the identified point on the map. Hold down the left-click to drag and draw a box over the area to zoom to.

      5. Pan Control switches the cursor to a hand icon which, when the left click is held down, allows you to drag and pan the map

      6. The Zoom Slider Bar displays for each map, allowing you to zoom in or zoom out by clicking the ends of the slider bar, or by dragging the slider up or down on the bar.

    2. The Search Results Tab

      By default, whenever you zoom into, out of, or pan on the map, or if you conduct a text search, the search tab will populate on the left side of the screen. The tab contains several columns of information are available for each layer: Cart status, Data Type, Layer Name, Dataset Originator, Repository, Layer Metadata Information, and Preview Status.

      • Cart Status - Identifies if the layer has been added to the Cart for retrieval.

      • Data Type - Signifies the type of data contained represented by the layer. Points, lines, polygons, and rasters are represented.

      • Layer Name - Show the Layer Name as identified in the layer metadata.

      • Dataset Originator - The person or organization who created the dataset.

      • Repository - An icon representing the institution who is hosting the dataset in their repository. Hovering over the icon will show the institution.

      • Layer Metadata Information - A button which will bring up a window containing the full metadata record for the layer.

      • Preview Status - A checkbox indicating if the layer has be selected for preview or not.

    3. Two Ways to Search

      1. Using the Map to Search:

        1. Using the map navigation controls provided, you can easily navigate around the map. By default the OpenGeoportal will populate the search window on the left based on the viewable extent of the map. As you move around, you may notice that the results will automatically update, based on the map extent. If you use your mouse cursor to hover over each available layer listed in the search results, you can see its extent previewed in blue on the map.

      2. Text Search:

        Text search allows you to type in search terms to limit your search results. There are Basic and Advanced Search options.

        1. Basic Search

          For a Basic search, two search boxes are provided; Where and What. The Where field will allow you to type in a location that you would like to search in while the What field allows you to enter keywords that. The OpenGeoportal will return layers that have metadata which contains the keywords.

          For example, if you wanted to find soil data for Arizona, you would enter Arizona in the Where field and Soils into the What field. Clicking on the search button or simply hitting enter will produce the relevant results.

        2. Advanced Search

          If the Basic Search options are too general, use the Advanced Search options to further refine your search. To use the Advanced Search, simply click on the Advanced Search link to the right of the search button. This will drop down a different set of menus that you can use to refine your search.

          The additional options (defined below) allow you to further define your search criteria. You can specify any of the following:

          1. Where - Just the same as in the basic search option, this allows you to specify a location for the data you are looking for.

          2. Keyword(s) - Keywords are words that serve as criteria, identifying relevant search results based on document metadata.

          3. Originator - The originator is the office or agency providing the source data for the search result.

          4. Ignore map extent (Where): - You can elect to have the OpenGeoportal restrict the search results to correspond to the map in one of two ways...

            • If you keep the Ignore map extent (Where) checked, the search results layers correspond only to features that intersect with the visible map extent.

            • If you uncheck Ignore map extent (Where) , the spatial component of the search will be removed. The search results will include layers from different parts of the world. Only the text search will be in effect.

          5. Data Type - Data Type allows you to define the type of data you want to find, such as raster data, vector data, or scanned maps.

            • Raster - Raster data represents a generally rectangular grid of pixels or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium.

            • Vector - Vector graphic formats points, lines, and polygons (shapes), which are all based on mathematical equations, to represent images in computer graphics.

            • Scanned Maps - Scanned maps have coordinate system information in the margins that can be used to geo-reference the image without reference to any other data.

          6. Year Range - Allows you to specify a particular date range to search. Years should be entered in the YYYY format.

          7. Topic - Allows you to search for data that includes information related to a particular subject or data theme. Click on the topic menu to show the list of topics.

            • Agriculture and Farming
              The rearing of animals or cultivation of plants. For example, resources describing irrigation, aquaculture, herding, and pests and diseases affecting crops and livestock.

            • Biology and Ecology
              Naturally occurring flora and fauna. For example, resources describing wildlife, biological sciences, ecology, wilderness, sea life, wetlands, and habitats.

            • Administrative and Political Boundaries
              Administrative units within countries and borders between countries.

            • Atmospheric and Climatic
              Atmospheric processes and phenomena. For example, resources describing cloud cover, weather, atmospheric conditions, climate change, and precipitation.

            • Business and Economic
              Economic activities or employment. For example, resources describing labor, revenue, commerce, industry, tourism and ecotourism, forestry, fisheries, commercial or subsistence hunting, and exploration and exploitation of resources such as minerals, oil, and gas.

            • Elevation and Derived Products
              Height above or below sea level. For example, resources describing altitude, bathymetry, digital elevation models, slope, and products derived from this information.

            • Environment and Conservation
              Environmental resources, protection, and conservation. For example, resources describing pollution, waste storage and treatment, environmental impact assessments, environmental risks, and nature reserves.

            • Geological and Geophysical
              Earth sciences. For example, resources describing geophysical features and processes, minerals, the composition, structure and origin of the earth's rocks, earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides, gravity information, soils, permafrost, hydrogeology, and erosion.

            • Human Health and Disease
              Health services, human ecology, and safety. For example, resources describing human disease and illness, factors affecting health, hygiene, mental and physical health, substance abuse, and health services.

            • Imagery and Base Maps
              Base maps. For example, resources describing land cover, topographic maps, and classified and unclassified images.

            • Military
              Military bases, structures, and activities. For example, resources describing barracks, training grounds, military transportation, etc.

            • Inland Water Resources
              Inland water features, drainage systems, and their characteristics. For example, resources describing rivers and glaciers, lakes, water use plans, dams, currents, floods, water quality, and hydrographic charts.

            • Locations and Geodetic Networks
              Positional information and services. For example, resources describing addresses, geodetic networks, postal zones and services, control points, and place names.

            • Oceans and Estuaries
              Features and characteristics of salt water bodies excluding inland waters. For example, resources describing tides, tidal waves, coastal information, and reefs.

            • Cadastral
              Property maps. A cadastre commonly includes details of the ownership, the tenure, the precise location (some include GPS coordinates), the dimensions (and area), the cultivations if rural, and the value of individual parcels of land.

            • Cultural, Society, and Demographics
              Characteristics of societies and cultures. For example, resources describing natural settlements, anthropology, archaeology, education, traditional beliefs, manners and customs, demographic data, crime and justice, recreational areas and activities, social impact assessments, and census information.

            • Facilities and Structure
              Man-made construction. For example, resources describing buildings, museums, churches, factories, housing, monuments, and towers.

            • Transportation Networks
              Means and aids for conveying people and goods. For example, resources describing roads, airports and airstrips, shipping routes, tunnels, nautical charts, vehicle or vessel location, aeronautical charts, and railways.

            • Utilities and Communication
              Energy, water and waste systems, and communications infrastructure and services. For example, resources describing hydroelectricity, geothermal, solar, and nuclear sources of energy, water purification and distribution, sewage collection and disposal, electricity and gas distribution, data communication, telecommunication, radio, and communication networks.

          8. Repository - Click the Select Repositories dropdown. Use the checkboxes to include all or a select set of the data available from the contributing data repositories.

          9. Include of Restricted Data - A portion of the data provided by the data sources is protected from public view, and requires the user to login to view or download the restricted data. Generally speaking, individuals from each of the data repositories will have privileges to log in to data from their own institution. By checking this, results might be returned that you would be unable to preview or download through the portal.

    4. Helpful Hints for Finding Data

      • Combine spatial and text searches - For example, zoom in to Tucson, AZ and type "imagery" in the search box for an effective way to search for imagery covering Tucson, AZ. An advantage to this type of search is that imagery layers for Tucson will populate, but not all layers of imagery nor all layers covering Tucson, AZ.

      • Use Multiple Terms to Refine Searches - For example, search for land cover to find documents with both the words 'land' and 'cover' somewhere in the metadata, but not necessarily together.

      • Capitalization - Searches on OpenGeoportal are not case sensitive; e.g. "roads" returns the same results as "Roads".

    5. Search Tab Preferences

      Elements on the Search tab can be adjusted to suit your preferences. Two buttons appear in the header of the Search tab have the following functions:

      1. Collapse Left collapses the tabbed area of the interface completely, maximizing the map view. When the left side of the screen is collapsed, the button to expand right displays at the left edge of the screen. Using the expand right button will restore the interface to the default view.

      2. Expand Right collapses the map area of the interface completely, maximizing the tabbed potion of the interface. When the right side of the screen is collapsed, using the expand left button will restore the interface to the default view.

  3. Map Preferences

    Above the map on the right, three buttons are displayed: Save Image, Print, and the Basemap Selector.

    1. Save Image - The Search Results allow you to save data sets only, so if you want to save a map to view or download, you must click Save Image. All displayed layers be set to your browser for download as a png image file.

    2. Print - The Print button allows you to print the current map.
      Tip - Consider using a PDF printer to avoid having to download a map, saving the map with a name and location of your choosing.

    3. Basemap Selector - There are five options for the basemap you can use in OpenGeoportal. When you click on the Basemap button, your options for the basemap appear. The one selected is highlighted in blue.

      • Google Hybrid - The Hybrid view shows a map depicting roads, parks, borders, and more, overlayed on satellite imagery.

      • Google Satellite - The Satellite view shows aerial imagery of roads, parks, borders, and more.

      • Google Streets - The Map view shows a map with a traditional depiction of roads, parks, borders, and more.

      • Google Physical - This shows the topography and physical features of the land along with major roads.

      • Open Street Map - This option is a free, editable source of geographic data, which is built similar to Wikipedia. OSM has mapped some parts of the world not easily available from other sources.

  4. Previewing Layers

    Once you have generated a list of search results in the search tab on the left side of the screen you have a multitude of options to access metadata information for each dataset layer and to preview that layer on the map.

    If the preview layer checkbox at the far right is selected, the layer will be highlighted in blue and moved to top of the search results and the preview controls will be displayed automatically. The preview controls can be hidden by clicking on the controls toggle at the far left of the layer listing.

    Note: Multiple layers can be previewed at once. To change the display order of the layers, simply click and drag on the layer listing and drag to the position you would like.

    When a layer has been selected for preview, the preview layer controls will be displayed. For vector data you can control the opacity, line or point size, and layer color. For raster data, only opacity can be modified. To access these controls, simply click on each tool to access its options.

    Additionally, two other buttons are available for each layer.

    • The button will zoom the map to the maximum extent of the layer.
    • In the case of vector layers, the button will allow you to query individual features for metadata content from the attribute table, or, for rasters, the individual pixel value. When this button is selected, the tool becomes interactive with the map. To use it, simply click on a feature of pixel contained within that layer. To turn it off, click the button again, or select navigation button from the map.

  5. The Cart: Retrieving Datasets

    Because you're able to retrieve multiple layers at once, OpenGeoPortal utilizes a cart type system to get you the datasets you need. Once you have identified the datasets that you would like, simply add them to your Cart by clicking on the button. The add to cart button will turn green and will fly to the cart tab

    If you select the Cart tab you'll see any datasets that you have added in your cart listing. Five buttons let you manage and retrieve the contents of your cart: Remove, Download, WebService, Share, and Map it.

    The five buttons:

    1. Remove - Allows you to remove items from the cart based on the check boxes at the left size of each layer.

    2. Download - Used to save selected data and maps to the location of your choice on you computer. When you choose to download items in your cart, you are given options on the format and map extent to include.

      1. File Format - The file format dropdown defines how your selected items will be saved.
        • Shapefile - If any of the datasets in your cart are vector data, you will be given the option to download as in shapefile format. A shapefile is a geospatial vector data format for geographic information systems. A table of records stores attributes for each feature in the shapefile.
        • GeoTIFF - If any of the datasets in your cart are raster data, you will be given the option to download as in the GeoTiff format. A GeoTiff is a geospatial raster data format that stores spatial information within the TIFF file so that it can be used in GIS systems.
        • KML - Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is an XML schema for expressing geographic annotation and visualization within Internet-based, two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional Earth browsers, for example Google Earth, or any other 3D Earth browser. Regardless if the data is vector or raster, you will be given this option because the KML format can store both types of data.
      2. Clip to map extent - Clip to map extent limits the properties/attributes to only those shapes visible in the current area displayed on the map. This is an advised option for raster layers and large data sets.

    3. Web Service - Create a WFS or WMS to stream layers into an application like ArcMap.

    4. Share - Provides you with a link that preserves the contents of your cart and map that you can copy and share with others.

    5. Map it - Opens a dialog that allows you to export the layers in your cart to your GeoCommons account.

  6. The OpenGeoportal Interface
    Several links are always visible on the Open Geoportal interface. They include four links on a menu bar on the upper right of the site:

    1. Reset - restores the OpenGeoportal to its default state, erasing any previously entered search criteria and emptying your Cart

    2. Help - Launches this guide

    3. Contact - Opens a dialog displaying the contact information for the site manager.

    4. Login - Allows you to log into your institution's portal and access restricted data.

University of Arizona Library and the Tufts UIT Training & Documentation Department
August 2015