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Data Science: GIS

This guide will help Data Science students find information they can use for their studies

What is GIS?


GIS is a computer system that captures, stores and displays data relating to positions on the Earth’s surface. GIS can show and overlay different kinds of data on one map, which allows the user to more easily see, analyse and understand patterns and relationships. 

GIS map image

GIS can use any information that includes location. The location can be expressed in many different ways, such as latitude and longitude, address, or postcode. Map and tabular information can also be entered into GIS. File types that are compatible with GIS include .geotiffs, .lyr, .gbd, .ecws, .shp, .kml and more.



ArcGIS by ESRI is the industry standard GIS software. It's quite expensive, and so it may not be feasible to purchase the software for at home use, however students of architecture and the built environment will have ArcGIS available on some lab computers.

There is an open source version of ArcGIS called QGIS which makes for an acceptable substitute for ArcGIS if you need to work at home, and projects created on one piece of software will be interoperable on the other.

LinkedIn Learning produces video training courses with accompanying practice files for ArcGIS and GIS concepts more generally:



There's a huge amount of freely available GIS compatible data out there. Below you can find some links to data sources, filed by location. Check out the headings below to find the right dataset for you.

New South Wales





LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It's a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth. These light pulses—combined with additional data recorded by airborne instruments — generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

LIDAR Resources

There are many LIDAR datasources available, including:

These data sources can be used by ArcScene, which is also available from the UTS Architecture and Built Environment labs. LIDAR files can also be transferred into Autodesk Tools, allowing you to convert data into 3 dimensional models.