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Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Software

Information on using GIS and finding GIS data at vanderbilt.

ESRI ArcGIS Software at Vanerbilt

ESRI is the leading GIS software company, offering many products and services related to geographic information systems and data. Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students can take advantage of Vanderbilt's ESRI site license to use powerful ArcGIS software at little to no cost.

ArcGIS 10.4.1 and extensions are now available to everyone on campus. There are several different installation and licensing options based on your current status at Vanderbilt (faculty, staff, or student), the computers that you plan to install ArcGIS on (personal or VU), and planned use of the software (on or off campus). Please make a request through the Vanderbilt software store.

If you are having problems with the software working properly please request assistance through inform.  Create a new ticket and place it under the GIS category.  Someone will get with you as soon as possible.


Free GIS Software: Google Maps and Fusion Tables

For many mapping and geographic information tasks, more than one system may provide the tools you need. Google Maps and Google Fusion Tables provide a level of geographic information and mapping capability that are effective for many projects. Consider using these free tools when:

  • You do not have access to ESRI software.
  • You want many people to be able to access and manipulate the maps and/or geographic data.
  • The people using the map data and information cannot access/be trained on ESRI software.
  • Your task ranges from simple to mid-level complexity.
  • Your project will work well with a basic Google map framework as its background.


Obviously these are simply general guidelines, but they may help you to evaluate your own project.

Open Source GIS

QGIS is another ArcGIS alternative that is free and open for anyone to use.  This mapping alternative offers many of the same tools and capabilities as ArcGIS.  QGIS can be installed on multiple operating systesms including: Mac OS X, Linux, UNIX, and Microsoft Windows.  


Mapbox is a Geographic Information System (GIS) resource that is easy to learn and implement.  Properly formatted data can be easily uploaded to a map and displayed as points.  Points can then be edited to display certain types of information and have unique symbology.