I am a newcomer to GIS, and am looking for local data sets to use with my students. I would like to locate data on our state, county, and city levels (for city, things like parcels, subdivisions, etc.). I am aware of some of the more global sets that would apply equally to localities around the world, but I'm looking for stuff that would be almost hyper-local.

I am in Oakland County, Michigan.

How can I find data sets that would be relevant to my students?

  • If it’s open data that you seek then I think the place to ask is the Open Data Stack Exchange.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 19:41

3 Answers 3


I recommend reaching out to local Government agencies to request data. You may be able to find someone willing to supply data for teaching purposes.

As a GIS Specialist for a County Government, I know that we typically sell data to local contractors and consultants (for a low cost) but will share data with teaching institutions for free. We always require a signed license agreement protecting us from misuse of our data but will not typically charge for non-commercial use.

I found some links that may be helpful to you.
Oakland County Michigan Enterprise GIS
There is a contact listed at this site.

Webmaps Link

Often statewide data repositories will have information that will be useful as well. Statewide GIS Data repository for Michigan

  • mcgi.state.mi.us/mgdl/?rel=cext&action=Oakland has data for arcgis that can be used.
    – Mapperz
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 15:01
  • +1. I also work for local government. We are pretty happy to share datasets with local educators. In addition, if you and your county are both up for it, there may be opportunities for you to actually map or at least collect data for a real world project, giving your kids real world experience and the locality some free labor. Good luck!
    – MaryBeth
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 19:01

Google has always been my best friend. Obviously you have to be careful with sources but anything from .gov, .mil, or .edu is usually reputable. The HIFLD OPEN dataset is open to the public but that is a federal level dataset. If you are looking for data in Michigan just start here:

http://gis.michigan.opendata.arcgis.com/ https://www.oakgov.com/it/gis/Pages/models.aspx

I would say learn some GIS "buzzwords" and try those in combination with Michigan or even your county.

If you haven't already talk with ESRI about setting you up with a ArcGIS Online account and there is even more data located in their database. The ArcGIS Online accounts they give teachers are generous since they want the next generation to be in tune with GIS.


Try out ArcGIS Online, there is an Oakland County Administrative user who has published a number of datasets for visualization.


Clicking the open button will bring up an option of viewing with ArcGIS For Desktop if that is your preference.

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