GEO-Data is difficult. we know. Here's some help.

To qualify, your app must use at least one of the official data sets provided by the Vermont Center of Geographic Data.  However, you're free to add whatever APIs, SDK's, databases, plugins, scripts, additional data-sets and/or open-source-whatever's you desire. 

The Vermont Open Geodata Portal provides geographical and mapping data, images, and several APIs We strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with these data and APIs before arriving at the event. For the first time ever we are sponsoring talks and trainings to help you do your best.

Furthermore, in addition to, and for your convenience, we have provided the following links to training materials, PowerPoints, pdf's, API's, SDK's, Slack boards, sample applications and a bunch other cool stuff.  Wow, what a smorgasbord of geo-info-goodness!


Real People

Join the HackVT Slack board for information vegetable, animal, and mineral.  As well as answers to your questions both technical and general.


Sample Applications

We've already mined the inadequate documentation and made all the stupid mistakes.  All you have to do is gleam this wonderful code showcasing the official data sets.  How cool is that?


APIs, SDK's, Platforms, libraries, etc.


Training Materials from the Vermont Center for Geographic Information

2017 QGIS Training Manual

  1. Chapter 1: Mapping and Digital Data Fundamentals (PDF, 343 KB)
  2. Chapter 2: Planning a GIS Project  (PDF, 162 KB)
  3. Chapter 3: Online Mapping Tools (PDF, 1.6 MB)
  4. Chapter 4: Introduction to GPS (PDF, 653 KB)
  5. Chapter 5: Introduction to QGIS Projects, Data Layers and The Map View (PDF, 1.6 MB)
  6. Chapter 6: Data Acquisition Methods, Procedures, and Issues (PDF, 1.8 MB)
  7. Chapter 7: Layer Properties (PDF, 1.8 MB)
  8. Chapter 8: Understanding and Using Attribute Data, Queries, and Analysis (PDF, 1.6 MB)
  9. Chapter 9: Creating Map Layouts, Printing and Exporting (PDF, 1.3 MB )

Powerpoints in PDF format:





JavaScript, Plug and Play and Others

ArcGIS ArcGIS offers a unique set of capabilities for applying location-based analysis to your business practices. Gain greater insights using contextual tools to analyze and visualize your data. Then share these insights and collaborate with others via apps, maps, and reports.

  • Professional Standard
  • Enterprise Services
  • Comprehensive Development
  • ArcExplore (requires account creation)

QGIS QGIS is an Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) licensed under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). It runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, Windows and Android and supports numerous vector, raster, and database formats and functionalities.


Python is an open source general programming language which can be used for data analysis with a robust selection of geospatial libraries:

  • GeoPandas extends the datatypes used by pandas to allow spatial operations on geometric type and include some of the libraries below for manipulation/plotting
  • PySal  PySAL is an open source cross-platform library of spatial analysis function
  • Fiona Importing and exporting vector data from various formats like shapefile
  • Rasterio Importing and exporting raster data from various formats
  • PyProj Defining and transforming the datum and projections of spatial data
  • Shapely Spatial analytics
  • CartoPy Descartes Cartography tools for making maps.

ArcPy Python site package for ArcGIS  that provides a useful and productive way to perform geographic data analysis, data conversion, data management, and map automation with Python.


R is an open source programming language and software environment for statistical computing and has a huge number of spatial data packages. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Ggmap extends the plotting package ggplot2 for maps
  • Rgdal R’s interface to the popular C/C++ spatial data processing library gdal
  • Rgeos R’s interface to the powerful vector processing library geos
  • Maptools provides various mapping functions
  • Dplyr and tidyr are a fast and concise data manipulation packages
  • Tmap  is a new packages for rapidly creating beautiful maps
  • Cran.r-project Spatial provides a general list of spatial libraries

R-ArcGIS The R – ArcGIS Community is a community driven collection of free, open source projects making it easier and faster for R users to work with ArcGIS data, and ArcGIS users to leverage the analysis capabilities of R.


  • The Spatial Community is a Slack-based community of over 1600 geospatial enthusiasts: developers, GIS professionals, students, and hobbyists.
  • OSGeo was created to support the collaborative development of open source geospatial software, and promote its widespread use.
  • OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) is an international not for profit organization committed to making quality open standards for the global geospatial community.
  • NEARC North East ArcGIS User Group is an independent, volunteer organization dedicated to helping users of Esri GIS software and hosts two conference annually.
  • VGIS-L Vermont GIS Community Listserve:


ABOUT File Types

  • Shapefile A shapefile is an Open Source vector data storage format for storing the location, shape, and attributes of geographic features. It is stored as a set of related files and contains one feature class.
    • An shapefile consists of a main file .shp, an index file .shx, and a dBASE table .dbf.
    • Additionally there may be .prj — projection format; the coordinate system and projection information, a plain text file describing the projection using well-known text format and an .xml which contains the metadata.
    • Any datums and projections can be used.
  • KML (Keyhole Markup Language) XML-based standard primarily used for Google Earth. KMZ (KML-Zipped) replaced KML as being the default Google Earth geospatial format.
    • KML/KMZ became an international standard of the Open Geospatial Consortium in 2008.
    • The longitude, latitude components (decimal degrees) are as defined by the World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS84). The vertical component (altitude) is measured in meters from the WGS84 EGM96 Geoid vertical datum.
  • OSM (Open Street Maps) XML-based file format that contain geographic data in a structured, ordered format. The more efficient, smaller .pbf Format (“Protocolbuffer Binary Format”) is a compressed alternative to OSM.
    • QGIS can load native .OSM files but not .PBF. The OpenStreetMap plugin can convert PBF to OSM, which then can be used in QGIS.
    • Like KML it used the World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS84).
  • Flat Files Any flat file that contains a country, state, county, city or address is technically geospatial data and can be joined with other types as attributes to the respective geospatial location.

Data Services - API

  • GeoJSON GeoJSON supports the following geometry types: Point, LineString, Polygon, MultiPoint, MultiLineString, and MultiPolygon. Geometric objects with additional properties are Feature objects. Sets of features are contained by FeatureCollection objects.
  • GeoService REST-based application which can return html and json and depending on the version of Service and can include geojson, kml, and amf.
  • SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) XML exchanging structured information in the implementation of Web Services in computer networks.
  • ArcGIS Javascript Javascript-based API that can support building engaging, beautiful web mapping applications.

Data Services - OpenGIS Standard Formats

  • WMS (Web Map Service) HTTP interface for requesting geo-registered map images from one or more distributed geospatial databases. The response to the request is one or more geo-registered map images (returned as JPEG, PNG, etc). 
    • NOTE: when in the VCGI portal site with the green header and map the WMS API will return mutiple layers, not just the one you are in. View the XML and find the correct layer number between NAME tags which will need to be used to just view that information.
  • WSC (Web Coverage Service) A WCS provides access to coverage data in forms that are useful for client-side rendering, as input into scientific models, and for other clients.
  • WMTS (Web Map Tile Service) A server application for sharing pre-cached map tiles across the web for use as basemaps with predefined content, extent, and resolution.
  • WPS (Web Processing Service) for sharing geoprocessing services across the web for performing dynamic geospatial analytics.
  • WCS (Web Coverage Service) for sharing geospatial data stored and managed as a coverage across the web.
  • CSW (Catalog Service for the Web) for sharing geospatial information, typically metadata, stored in XML across the web.