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GIS (Geographic Information Systems): Tools

This guide covers resources and tools helpful for people interested in GIS.

Desktop GIS Tools

Esri ArcGIS - The leading commercial software for desktop GIS mapping and analysis. One-year licenses are available to all UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff. The GIF (Geospatial Innovation Facility) provides information and a form for requesting a license. Note: ArcGIS only runs natively on Windows machines.

QGIS - A leading free, open source desktop GIS program. Create, edit, visualize, analyze and publish geospatial information. Runs natively on many operating systems, including Windows and Mac.

ArcGIS Online

UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff have access to ArcGIS Online (AGOL) through our institutional account. To login into UC Berkeley's AGOL account, go to Click on the link to login using your UC Berkeley Calnet account.

If you find that you need to login to other applications that use ArcGIS Online, look for a link that says, "Sign in with enterprise account."

Easy US Demographic Mapping Tools

Open Source Web Tools

Mapping Tools for the Digital Humanities

Geocoding Tools

Patty Frontiera from the D-Lab wrote an excellent overview of current address geocoding options. See her blog post for a full discussion. Below is an overview table from her write-up.

Address Geocoding: Overview of Some Options for the UCB Community
  Google Geocoding service Esri ArcGIS Online

Esri ArcGIS Desktop

Data Science Toolkit (DSTK) Census Geocoder OpenStreetMap via Mapquest Open, Photon, or OpenCage
Requires Programming Not if used via Google Earth Pro or QGIS mmqgis plugin Not if used via ArcGIS Destop No Yes No YES
Limits on free geocoding  2,500 addresses per day 1,250 addresses with new account None if using local reference database No No, but only 1,000 addresses at a time No
Relative quality output High High High Medium Medium Medium
Geographic coverage global global depends on reference database USA, UK USA Global, with inconsistent coverage outside USA
Online or local service online online either either online online
Estimated currency relatively current relatively current depends on reference database varies, ~2010 or later for US locations varies, ~2010 or later for US locations varies, ~2010 or later for US locations
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