Caitlin Dempsey


Geoportals provide a single point of access for searching for and downloading GIS data from a multitude of sources.  Users looking for GIS data can search a variety of geoportals for government and open GIS data.  President Clinton signed an executive order in 1994 mandating the establishment of a federal spatial data infrastructure depository (Budhathoki, Bruce, & Nedovic-Budic, 2008).  The resulting United States National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) is considered the first geoportal concept.  Since then, hundreds of geoportals have been established by government agencies such as for downloading open data from the United States government, commercial GIS companies such as Esri recently launched ArcGIS Open Data effort, and universities.  . Tufts, Harvard, and MIT have spearheaded the development of, which is self-described as an “open source, federated web application to rapidly discover, preview, and retrieve geospatial data” and universities that are applying this software include UC Berkeley Geospatial Data RepositoryHarvard Geospatial Library, and GeoData@Tufts.

A list of multi-organizational and national geoportals:


Budhathoki, N. R., Bruce, B., & Nedovic-Budic, Z. (2008). Reconceptualizing the role of the user of spatial data infrastructure. GeoJournal, 72(3-4), 149-160. doi: 10.1007/s10708-008-9189-x


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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