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Home> Services> Mapping and GIS> GIS Data Conversion
GIS Data Conversion

GIS data conversion transforms data from its current format (usually paper maps or related sources) into a digital format. In some cases, the data is already in a digital format, but often this data is not compatible with the current system. Conversion of data from one digital format to a new digital format is referred to as data translation. For example, digitizing a paper map into an electronic series of x, y coordinates is data conversion from paper to digital format. Municipal GIS data conversion often includes the following:

Manual, semi-automated, and automated digitizing
Data layering
Data editing
Data manipulation
Datum conversions, transformations, and projections
Topology building
Data structuring
Attaching data attributes to graphics
Data format conversions


1. Native GIS formats

Other GIS formats may need to be converted to a common format to be truly compatible.

2. Non-traditional GIS datasets

These may include such items as digital terrain data, orthophotographs, and satellite imagery. These data may provide tremendous capability, but must be managed in ways different from traditional vector information. Conversion to a standard format is relatively straightforward. The new high-resolution satellites with high spectral and spatial definition are often difficult to view and render with commonly available tools.

3. Tabular data

Digital data already in tabular form integrate into the GIS database in two very important ways. First, they form the basis for GIS feature attributes. In this case they must be linked somehow to the objects forming the spatial geometry. If a common key is available the linkage becomes relatively straightforward, but if not the problem becomes significantly more complex. Second, they are the basis for the spatial objects themselves. Coordinates stored in a tabular form may be extracted and converted to a common coordinate system, then linked to whatever other attribute information is contained within the table.

4. Non-digital data

Items in analog (paper) form such as reports, maps, or charts, involve the most effort in terms of data conversion - these data must be keypunched, manually digitized, scanned, or otherwise automated to suit the demands made of them. Report data become digital tables, which then assume the characteristics of that item discussed above. Maps and charts should realistically be digitized into the preferred GIS format, if possible, to avoid the other issues associated with the non-preferred formats.

5. GIS Formats

The following is a list of our common software packages that we support.

6. AutoDesk® Software Formats

AutoCAD (.dwg)
Drawing Exchange File (.dxf)

7. ESRI® Software Formats

ARC/INFO (Coverages, Shapefiles, GeoDatabase, etc.)
Interchange Files (.E00)

8. Other Common Formats

Adobe Illustrator (.ai)
Corel Draw (.cdr)


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