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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

How do I Sign up on

It is easy to Sign up on Please click on the Sign in link on the top-right corner and follow the instructions. For more details, including the New user Sign up, First time login, Requesting a new password with screenshots, click here

How do I join the Theme Lead Community?

If you want to join the Theme Leads Community (TLC), you will need to sign up and create an account in Once your account has been created, please sign in to GeoPlatform to make sure your access is working (if not, contact with your issue). You can then contact Brigitta Urban-Mathieux by email and provide Jim your email address and username used when creating your account. He will add you to the Theme Leads Community.

Where does the data on come from? searches a comprehensive catalog of government data maintained by searches and only returns geospatial data.

Please note that by accessing datasets or tools offered on and, you agree to the Data Policy, which you should read before accessing any data. If there are additional datasets that you would like to see included on this site, please suggest more datasets here.

How are the datasets in collected?


Under the terms of President Obama’s Executive Order and the Administration’s Open Data Policy, all newly-generated government data are required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats, while continuing to ensure privacy and security.

Federal agencies are also required to:

  • Create a Single Agency Data Inventory. Agencies are required to catalog their data assets, just like they would inventory computers or desk chairs, to better manage and use these resources.
  • Publish a Public Data Listing. On their pages, agencies are required to publish a list of their data assets that are public, or could be made public.
  • Develop New Public Feedback Mechanisms. Agencies are required to set up feedback mechanisms to engage the public about where agencies should focus open data efforts, such as facilitating and prioritizing the release of datasets. Agencies are also required to identify public points of contacts for agency datasets.

Agency Public Data Listings, on pages, are harvested into the central catalog for Each agency is responsible for its own data.

What standards were used to develop the metadata displayed on and follows the Project Open Data schema – a set of required fields (Title, Description, Tags, Last Update, Publisher, Contact Name, etc.) for every data set displayed on

How can I add my city, county, or state data to the catalog so it is searchable by


Any government agency or university can publish information about their open data on The data remains on their platform, but information about the datasets – like the description and details about the data – is published in the catalog so people can discover open data from across the country.

To have your datasets listed on, you’ll coordinate with the team following these four steps:

  1. If you are your local government’s open data official, contact the team to let them know you’d like to get started. (For non-government organizations, please also state the reason you’d like your data included on Please include your site URL, a link to your data policy, and information about the open data platform your site uses (ArcGIS Open Data, CKAN, Civic Data, DKAN, Junar, NuCivic Data Enterprise, Open Data Catalog, Socrata, or other).
  2. The team will create a new harvester that will automatically collect information about your datasets and update whenever changes are made on your data catalog. Depending on your platform, creating this harvester might just be the push of a button or it could take a little more work, but they’ll walk you through it in any case.
  3. The team will test to ensure the harvester works properly. If anything seems wrong, they’ll help you configure your data catalog so that can collect your datasets without any errors.
  4. Once the harvester has been tested successfully, will start automatically consuming information about your data sets (harvesting) and all the basic details of your datasets will be available on with links to the source and your open data policy.

Will my comments be read?


Emails that you send through the 'contact us' page of and dataset suggestions will be sent to the relevant agency for review.    

What if I am having difficulty downloading a dataset from the catalog?


Some web browser configurations, particularly those that are designed for high-security computing environments, can interfere with access to certain datasets from the catalog. This is most commonly related to government websites that use security certificates and end user browsers that are not configured to recognize those certificates as being authoritative. If you are having difficulty downloading one or more datasets from the catalog, please contact your local IT support staff to determine whether browser configuration issues can be addressed for your workstation.

How does maintain accessibility?


The commitment to accessibility for all is reflected on this site in our efforts to ensure all functionality and all content are accessible to all users. The site is routinely tested for compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act using a technical standards check-list, in-depth testing with screen readers, policy experts, and person with disabilities. For more information on Section 508 technical standards please visit

In addition, the site is also routinely reviewed for alignment with the latest Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines for W3C. The Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines at define how browsers, media players, and other "user agents" support people with disabilities and work assistive technologies.

Images on the site contain 'alt tags,' which aid users who listen to the content of the site by using a screen reader, rather than reading the site. Likewise, a 'skip to' link provides these users with a method for bypassing the header and going directly to the main content each time a page is accessed. Text transcripts accompany audio clips, and closed captioning is available on videos.

Users can get information regarding the accessibility of Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files from the Access Adobe website.

The website is being updated frequently to make it as accessible as possible. If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader, eye tracking device, voice recognition software, etc.) and have difficulty accessing information on, please contact us and provide the URL (web address) of the material you tried to access, the problem you experienced, and your contact information. A team member will contact you and attempt to provide the information you're seeking.