GIS Mapping and Processing Tabular Geospatial Data
Coordinate information is often found in spreadsheet and tabular data files (XLS, XLSX, CSV, etc.) made available on open data portals and there is sometimes no indication that these datasets can be mapped or analyzed using GIS software but - if you know what to look for and how to process these types of datasets - they are not very difficult to convert to native GIS formats and add to a map. It is first important to recognize if you have coordinate information in your tabular data that is mappable. Coordinates are most commonly listed as degrees of latitude and longitude and they may be stored in a single field as a coordinate pair or the coordinate values may be found separated into two separate fields, one for latitude and one for longitude. More rarely, you might find coordinates expressed in meters or feet instead of degrees - these types of coordinates are tied to specific coordinate systems and you must be able to identify the referenced coordinate system in order to process the data successfully. While the process of converting tabular coordinate information to a native geospatial format is fundamentally the same in each of the major GIS software applications regardless of what coordinate system they are based on, the steps vary slightly due to the differences in user interface design of each GIS application. To make it as easy as possible for you to map or convert your tabular data, detailed instructions have been prepared for ArcMap which can be accessed by clicking the link below.