I am currently searching for high resolution data on residential or commercial land use in the USA. I'd like to use this data to determine for a given location wether this location is in a house with people living in it or not. The data doesn't have to be perfect, as I only intend to do a case study on that. Therefore, it would be sufficient to find such data for a bigger city (e.g. Boston). Does anyone of you guys know if such data exists?

As I am not planning to use the data commercially, I can't afford paying very much for it. With this restriction, I can't use business directories like InfoUSA or Dunn & Bradstreet, which are mention in this question.

I considered using OSM, as it contains a node attribute landuse that can be used to mark a node as used for residential use. Unfortunately, the data in OSM currently doesn't seem to be very accurate in that respect. If I am wrong there, I would be very grateful for corrections and hints.

3 Answers 3


Parcel level land use for Houston is available here.

This data has been used in some interesting studies by UrbanSim, as described here.


Not sure exactly what you mean by high resolution, but I think your best bet is to trawl the sites of city districts and see if they provide this level of data - it will probably vary by authority.

For instance Massachusetts has data (http://www.mass.gov/mgis/lus2005.htm) with a mimimum mapping unit of 0.25 acres - or approx 11,000 square foot. Probably way to large to pick out a house from a garden, but probably good enough to pick out a residential area from a non-residential one. You may want to explore

  • With high resolution I meant that it should be as accurate and detailed as possible. Thanks for the link, I will look into that.
    – evnu
    Nov 11, 2011 at 16:33

If you are just looking for data samples for Metropolitan areas and want to try some data out West, you can take a look at data provided (mostly) free by:

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