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Friday, October 14, 2005

Want to make pretty maps? Free GIS software

An email has prompted me to re-examine free GIS (Geographical Information Systems) software used to make maps representing different types of data.

Here's the two most obvious Windows-type applications:
Quantum GIS - does most things a beginner might want to do. Even has a labelling system. Very good!
fGIS - not so good, seems to crash with large files

GRASS is another, but it's a mission to install (requires a Unix compatibility layer) and it's interface sucks. I don't recommend it.

GIS Data

I've sent an email to Elections NZ to find out if the electorate boundaries I've used for these maps are freely re-distributable.

You can download "hillshades" - coordinate-correct images showing major landforms - from Geographx. (They're called "Hillshaded Relief Maps"). The same page has "Digital Elevation Models" (DEM's), which show elevation in metres.

You can download free aerial photos from LINZ, though I don't think they're "georeferenced" (matched to a coordinate system).

I'll put more links up as I find them.

Posted by Antarctic Lemur | 10/14/2005 10:27:00 AM


Anonymous tincanman said...

Al, you wouldn't happen to know of a reputable / good map system that has details of features such as buildings and roads, would you? (Something I can re-render in software with zooming, etc. - for NZ, of course)

10/14/2005 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

You have to buy it, though you can download small-scale shapefiles of roads and property boundaries from LINZ's online GIS viewer.

Only private companies have building GIS data in NZ.

Send me an email with more info on what you need it for etc.

10/14/2005 11:02:00 AM  

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