Downloading GIS Data:

While some data can be accessed through server connections built into the GIS software, much of the data you will be utilizing for planning projects will be acquired from State Agencies or local Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). Data will come in various formats, all of which will be either vector or raster data. More complex datasets like roads and elevation data will need to be broken up by County and imported in smaller sets.

Below are links to websites that host relevant data:

Connect to Folder:

The first step when importing downloaded GIS data into blank map is to Connect a Folder.  ArcCatalog is the most common program for organizing GIS data and you can connect a folder in this program.  ArcCatalog will also allow you to preview data sets, and examine the properties and tables within shapefiles and geodatabase sets.   ArcMap, the ESRI software that builds the maps form existing data, also allows you to connect a folder.  In either program, find the Connect to Folder icon and navigate to the folder containing your data.

Connect to folder icon:  new folder icon

Add Local Data:

Within ArcMap, the first step to creating a basemap will be to import data from personal datasets acquired and by connecting to ArcGIS Online Data. To add downloaded data, click the add data icon and navigate to your files. It is important to select a file with a direct relationship to the focus of your map. The new map will inherit the Coordinate System associated with this initially imported item. It is also important to understand the 3 primary types of vector data: points, lines, and polygons. These three types of geometry will account for essentially all vector data you will import.

Add Data Icon:  add data icon

Add Online Data:

National topographic maps and aerial imagery can be downloaded in quadrants or sizes defined by other political boundaries. To accomplish this for every potential project would require significant storage space on your local hard drive. The better alternative is to utilize the Online data, able to be accessed through the ArcGIS software. Click the Add Data from ArcGIS Online icon to retrieve a browser for searching the online data. Search “Tennessee” or “Aerial” to beginning sorting through and importing relevant data.

Add Data Pull-down Dialog:  

add data pulldown dialog

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