Frequently Asked Questions

You've got questions and we've got the answers. Have a look at the FAQs below to help answer those burning questions about Cambridge GIS.

Can't find what you're looking for? Feel free to get in touch with our team directly.

  • What is GIS?

    A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer resource that makes map creation and information retrieval efficient and easy. The City of Cambridge uses GIS to create, maintain, and analyze its spatial information. GIS has become an important component for projects in nearly every department of the City. Some examples of available Cambridge GIS data include roads, buildings, tax parcels, water lines, street lights, and aerial photographs.
  • How can I get access to Cambridge GIS data?

    When looking for GIS data, the best place to start is our GIS Data page. The GIS Data Dictionary will highlight the details of each dataset that we currently have available. The Data Sales and Download page will connect you straight to the data through our download links and the GitHub data site.

  • What are some examples of GIS use in Cambridge?

    • Community Development Department making planning decisions, analyzing zoning requirements, and managing open space by using maps, analysis tools, and now 3D models.
    • The Police Department uses GIS for crime analysis, forecasting crime trends for better policing, and easy to understand crime reporting to residents.
    • Cambridge Water Department uses the infrastructure layers for capital planning, maintenance, and hydraulic modeling.
    • Inspectional Services has integrated GIS with their new permitting system for creating work orders, field inspections, and organizing records.
    • The Public Works City Arborist uses mobile GIS to inventory the City trees, plan for planting and maintenance, and offer residents a mobile app to visit and learn about the trees on their own.
    • Traffic and Parking is working with GIS to map crash locations, traffic counts, traffic patterns, and enforcement.
    • The Assessors office use GIS for analysis of real estate trends and property values.
    • Cambridge Watershed monitors the City's public drinking water supply which is outside the City, and also uses GIS to help manage Fresh Pond Reservation.
  • What are some of the primary GIS responsibilities?

    • Empowering departments through the provision of GIS infrastructure including data access, hardware, software, and Web tools.
    • GIS data procurement, development of new data sets, and maintenance strategies.

    • The development of computer applications that will provide quick and easy access to GIS functions.

    • Provide GIS to the public through a thoughtful and innovative approach.
    • The development of high quality map products including planimetric, topographic, thematic, and custom maps.

    • Departmental support for spatial data analysis using GIS.
    • Integrating Cambridge GIS with other enterprise systems such as permitting, work orders, and public safety.
    • User training and technical support, and encouragement.
    • Management and maintenance of the City's master address database. 

    • Providing the public with current GIS data through open data initiatives.