Service overview

The Research Data Support Team of the University Library provides extensive information and support for data management, which strives for data that is FAIR. The service overview below is a specification for geodata; where relevant, reference will be made to the libguide for Research Data Management† Ask? Send an e-mail to:!

Data collection

In your own GIS desktop software can manually generate spatial data by creating locations with associated data.

Data collection tooling is available on ArcGIS Online. You can find these in the ArcGIS Online environment by clicking on the nine dots in the top right corner. These tools are ideally suited for structured data collection with groups of students or researchers:

  • Survey123. With Survey123 you can easily create standard forms to collect data via the web or mobile devices. You can find Survey123 in the ArcGIS Online environment by clicking on the nine dots at the top right.
  • Field maps. With the field app it is easy to collect accurate data yourself in the field, for example with your smartphone or a tablet.

The University Library makes I-pads available to collect data with groups of students or researchers in the field. read more here

Government institutions collect geodata and increasingly offer it as open data. It concerns cleaned data sets that are described according to metadata standards. We have some commonly used data portals for geodata listed for you. In the libguide from Research Data Management you can find more information about searching for open data.

De projects page provides access to a number of geodatasets generated by the VU, such as the church and monastery map.

De Living Atlas of the World is a central location for Esri geo-products and available only to ArcGIS users. Esri Nederland, in collaboration with its partners, proposes a specific Living Atlas for the Netherlands available. This contains ready-to-use datasets for basemaps, key registers, demography, boundaries, elevation data, living environment, points of interest and traffic and infrastructure.

The content of the Living Atlas can be accessed from desktop software ArcGIS Pro (Catalog > Portal > Living Atlas) and ArcGIS Online (Content > Living Atlas). 

If you want to work with old or existing printed maps, you can georeference them with your GIS desktop software. Georeferencing is the procedure in which you add coordinates to the scanned image of the map. The software then runs and scales it in such a way that it falls 'over the current topography'. More and more institutions are making their (old) maps available georeferenced.

  • On the page old maps georeferenced maps from the map collection of the university library are available.
  • The website oldmapsonline contains georeferenced maps from other institutions.
  • The Living Atlas contains large-scale topographical maps of the Netherlands, which can also be consulted in the topo time travel.

Data processing and analysis

Data editing involves creating and modifying spatial objects in 2D and 3D, editing their style and the underlying data. Data analysis involves detecting and visualizing patterns and relationships of the spatial objects. For aspects of data provenance and citation of data, see the Libguide from RDM.

ArcGIS Pro is Esri desktop GIS software and includes powerful tools for creating, editing (menu > edit), and analyzing (menu > analysis) spatial features (features). Many actions are not directly visible in the ribbon, but are housed in so-called 'Toolboxes', which are available in the side panel 'Geoprocessing'. Send us a Email if you don't have access to certain tools, we can activate them. Do the same if you receive a message that not enough credits are available for a certain analysis.

Learn more about ArcGIS Pro and other software at the software page.  

ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based software from Esri. In some cases, it is sufficient to use the editing and analysis functions available in ArcGIS Online. For more complex operations, you can usually work better with desktop GIS software ArcGIS Pro or QGIS. 

Learn more about ArcGIS Online and other software at the software page.

QGIS is Free and Open Source Software that is free and unlicensed download and use it. The standard QGIS download offers many possibilities for editing and analyzing spatial objects. In addition, plugins have been made for specific actions, which are easy to download and manage in the 'Plugin manager'.

Data storage

For the storage of data, a distinction can be made between storage during the research and archiving your data for afterwards. In many cases, for example data for teaching assignments, long-term storage is not necessary: ​​this is especially necessary if you have done a research and your publications refer to the data. For more information, see the Libguide of Research Data management.

Storing data locally means storing data on its own storage (hard disk/USB). If you are the only one who needs the data and the datasets are not too large for your own storage, storing data locally is a good option for you. This option is often chosen for work-in-process and is easy to implement in both ArcGIS Pro and QGIS. Just make sure to make a backup so that the data is not lost in the event of a possible crash.

ArcGIS Online offers you a good option to store your files in the cloud. You can save GIS files, but also from a whole range of others file types† Especially if you work together, ArcGIS Online is the preferred storage, because you can easily share. If you get a message that you have no more credits, please send us a Email.

Note: this solution is only relevant as long as you are affiliated with the VU as a student or employee. The moment you leave the VU, your account will be canceled and the associated data will be deleted. You are responsible for storing this data elsewhere in a timely manner.

VU University offers you various other solutions for cloud storage of research. Read more about it in the appropriate chapter in the Libguide of the Research Data Management.

In some cases, after completion of the research project, the data is stored for a period of 10 years. The VU offers various options for long-term storage. Read more about this in the relevant chapter of the Libguide about Research Data Management.

Publish and share

The cartographic exponent of the research normally results in maps, which are incorporated into a paper or publication. But with digital maps nowadays it is very easy to publish them and in this way increase the impact and reach of the research.

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ArcGIS Online provides a range of apps that enable data visualizations. ArcGIS Dashboard, ArcGIS Insights, ArcGIS Hub, ArcGIS Experiencebuilder are all options for various visualizations.

Web viewers can be built in different ways with open source solutions. An example of this is Leaflet, an open source Javascript library.

De projects page contains datasets and final results of GIS related research projects at the VU. Some of these datasets are available for download. Interactive maps visualize the results and provide an in-depth insight into the research.

The VU Project Portfolio is never complete and continues to grow over time. If you have a dataset that also belongs in this portfolio, look at the bottom of the webpage of the VU Project Portfolio. Visualization options and the upload procedure are described there.

Education, self-study and contact

At the Free University there are many courses in which GIS is used. Look in it course overview for more information and reference to the study guides per subject. There are courses where learning GIS software is central, but also courses where GIS is used for a single assignment.

There are many tutorials and courses available to familiarize yourself with GIS software. There are two Esri services dedicated to ArcGIS Pro tutorials. These are Learn ArcGIS and Esri Academy. In addition, QGIS Tutorials provides tutorials for learning the QGIS software.

Learn ArcGIS
Learn ArcGIS is mainly aimed at new GIS users. These can be people who are using GIS for the first time, but also people who want to discover a new area of ​​GIS. In addition, all Learn ArcGIS material is free. Esri offers free trial accounts so that everyone can access the software and follow the lessons. In the lessons of Learn ArcGIS you will be step by step (photo) learned to work problem-solving based on real-world examples.  

Esri Academy
Esri Academy
is more aimed at existing users who want to build in-depth skills. Esri Academy offers both free and paid materials, such as MOOCs, online courses (photo), and working groups. Esri Academy also gives Certificates out for completed courses.

QGIS Tutorials
QGIS tutorials provides the QGIS software step by step (photo) Explain with text and screenshots. There are tutorials for basic to advanced GIS operations. 

Do you have GIS related questions or suggestions for the website? Feel free to take a Email.