General Use Instructions

Getting Started ›› GIS Data ››
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Required Software

A user intending to use shapefile data must have appropriate software such as ArcGIS or ArcGIS Explorer Desktop to view or analyze the shapefiles. ArcGIS Explorer Desktop is available for free download from the following website:

You will need a zip program to extract the zip files. You can find the software at the web links below. or


The GIS Data is located:

Right click on the file you want to download, Choose Save Target As to save the file to your computer's hard drive. Keep the original file name. You will have to choose the directory where you want to save the file.


Use a zip program to extract the files.

Each GIS Data shapefile consists of seven files with the same name and an extension that indicates its function. You should be certain when unzipping the shapefiles that all files with the same file name are copied and stored together.

Shapefile File Extensions

.shp - the file that stores the feature geometry.

.shx - the file that stores the index of the feature geometry. 

.dbf - the dBASE file that stores the attribute information of features.

.prj  the file that stores the coordinate system and projection information.

.sbn and .sbx files that store the spatial index of the features.

.shp.xml - a file that stores the geospatial metadata in XML format.