Starter Datasets. How to use

Starter Datasets are currently available in shapefile format. Cartographically styled data is available only for ArcGIS.

To begin using a dataset:

  1. Download the .zip file to your computer and decompress.
  2. Read the metadata. (xml file)
  3. If using ArcGIS, open the dataset in your GIS by clicking the mxd filename. You should see nicely styled data.
  4. If using an alternative GIS, load the shapefiles into your GIS. You will see plain data with no cartographic styling.


There are several ways to use this data:

  1. As a background. Loading data in the background of your own data is a simple way to use this data. For example, loading a population dataset behind your feature data can give an immediate visualization of population distribution.
  2. For queries. These datasets can be used for queries as you would any other dataset. For example, placing a buffer around your features, you can calculate population estimates within your buffered areas by using the population layer.
  3. For other GIS functions. These datasets can be used as you would use any other data. You can perform queries, data joins, calculations, and more.


Note the Licensing agreement if you create a derivative product.


Send questions, stories, ideas, and maps to gstrode@fsu.edu.


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