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General Dataset and Mapping Tools

Most federal grant applications benefit from the inclusion of demographic and other data that provide detailed information about the characteristics of the population or geographic area that is the focus of a transportation project or planning activity.

The tools on this page provide an interactive way to explore and analyze population characteristics of a geographic area to help identify the need for a project, including to identify populations that may be covered by Title VI and Civil Rights federal requirements. 

U.S. Census Data

Screenshot of a map of the United States with colored blocks indicating the Gini Index estimate in 2020, based on American Community Survey census data. is the platform to access data and digital content from the U.S. Census Bureau. The vision for data dissemination through is to improve the customer experience by making data available from one centralized place so that data users spend less time searching for data content and more time using it.

Data previously released on American FactFinder (AFF) are now being released on the U.S. Census Bureau’s new dissemination platform.

User Information: Learn how to access and use Census Bureau data through the How-To videos and in-depth courses, webinars, and tutorials.

Identifies: The Census provides information on the nation’s people, places, and economy, providing data about our country’s population size and growth and detailed portraits of the changing characteristics of our communities.

Limitations: Currently, data goes back only as far as the 2000 Census.


State-Level GIS Data Guide

The GIS Data Guide provides a concise list of important geographic information system (GIS) resources maintained by state-level organizations. States often maintain unique GIS datasets that provide a user the ability to deeply explore detailed attributes within a state.

The availability of GIS data varies by state. In some cases, state-level GIS warehouses may offer more specific, user-friendly data layers of Federal sources, such as state-specific shapefiles that detail federal Census data.

Identifies: Maintained by Purdue University, this catalog lists state-level GIS data applications. Data varies by state.

Access the GIS Data Guide.

Smart Location Mapping

Screenshot of the Smart Location Mapping database, showing street intersection density in Columbus, Ohio.
Smart Location Database

The Smart Location Database is a simple tool developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for exploring how workplace location affects worker commute travel. The tool provides location efficiency scores for a user-entered address, as well as location efficiency data summarized at the block-group level. All of the scores are relative to the region.

Other indicators include worker commute greenhouse gas emissions, mode share, vehicle miles traveled, and workplace accessibility via transit.

User Information: Visit Smart Location Mapping for a full description of the database and tips for using the tool, and view a webinar on how to use the tool. Users can also access a PDF version of the user guide for the Smart Location Database.

Identifies: This tool can be used to assess and compare neighborhoods’ conditions and prioritize investments. Access to jobs and workers via transit and equitable access to jobs and services are among the types of benchmarks that can be analyzed using this tool.

Limitations and Notes: Coverage is limited to metropolitan regions served by transit agencies that share their service data in a standard format called General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS).

Access the Smart Location Database


TIGERweb is an interactive series of reference maps for visualizing Census geography. TIGERweb is a web-based system that allows users to visualize the U.S. Census Bureau’s Master Address File and TIGER (Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing database) data. The spatial data within TIGERweb covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas. TIGERweb includes attribute information from the Decennial Census, Economic Census, and American Community Survey. It provides a simple way to select and view features and their attributes, to search for features by name or geocode, and to identify features by selecting them from an on-screen map.

User Information: Access a user guide at How to use TIGERweb to Identify Urban Areas. This step-by-step tutorial can be used to determine if your project is located in an urban area.

Identifies: Census boundary files (census tracts, block groups), zip code tabulation areas, legal area boundaries, and urbanized areas can be used to associate an address with census geography based on its location.

Limitations and Notes: TIGERweb is not an application for mapping or tabulating actual census data.

Access TIGERweb.


Disclaimer: This curated list of federal data and mapping tools is maintained on the DOT Navigator website as a secondary source and does not supersede primary materials issued by each USDOT Operating Administration. USDOT does not promote one resource over another. Accordingly, please work directly with the USDOT Operating Administration managing the BIL discretionary grant program for specific guidance.