The NYS GIS Data Sharing Cooperative, created in 1997, is a group of governmental entities, educational institutions, and not-for-profit organizations that have executed Data Sharing Agreements for the purpose of improving access to GIS data among members.

The Data Sharing Cooperative was primarily developed to encourage public agencies in New York to share in the creation, use, and maintenance of GIS data sets at the least possible cost. Two key features of the Data Sharing Cooperative are:

  • Data creators (primary custodians) retain ownership of their GIS data sets, but agree to share it with other Cooperative members for free or, at most, for the cost of copying it; and
  • Users of the GIS data (secondary custodians) pass updates, corrections, and revisions back to the creators of the data set, resulting in improved data quality.

The Data Sharing Cooperative was created at a time when GIS data development was a costly endeavor and sharing GIS data often meant mailing floppy disks or CDs. 

Datasets provided by cooperative members were stored on the GIS Clearinghouse servers and typically accessible only to other cooperative members using their password-protected account.

Through the years, technological advances and lower costs of data development allowed for an increasing number of datasets to be shared openly without requiring membership in the Cooperative. In January 2023, only 33 of the 475 listed datasets on the GIS Clearinghouse were password protected.

With the updated GIS Clearinghouse released in 2023, there will no longer be password-protected datasets available for download through the Clearinghouse. Cooperative members needing a formerly locked dataset should contact the data owner or GPO.

If your organization is a Cooperative member, please work with the GPO to keep your contact information up to date.


Cooperative Membership

All State agencies must participate in the Cooperative. A standard license, called the NYS GIS Cooperative Data Sharing Agreement, was sent to all NYS agencies to sign in September of 1997.

Can we still join the Cooperative?

Yes. Government, education, and not-for-profit organizations can still join the Data Sharing Cooperative. To join the Cooperative, an authorized individual must sign a standard Data Sharing Agreement on behalf of the entity. When they sign the Data Sharing Agreement, Cooperative members must designate a GIS contact person and, if they have GIS data sets, submit an inventory of them. Members are also asked to create metadata describing their GIS datasets. Data Sharing Agreements can be obtained by contacting the GIS Program Office at (518) 242-5029 or sending an e-mail to [email protected].

Who do I contact for more information on the Cooperative?

Contact the NYS ITS GIS Program Office at (518) 242-5029 or sending an e-mail to [email protected].

Data Custodian Guidelines

Guidelines for Secondary Custodian Use of GIS Data Sets for Internet-based Mapping Applications


Contacts for Members

Organizations, not individuals, are members of the data sharing cooperative.  Members must designate a GIS contact person. 

Contact info is available in a single, searchable document. The GIS Who’s Who application can be used to find contact info for cooperative members as well.  Each of the viewing options (Alphabetical, Sector, Organization, and County) can be filtered by checking the “Display Data Sharing Cooperative Members Only” box at the top.

Data Access

Where is the locked data?

The new GIS Clearinghouse no longer has password protected data. Some of formerly “locked” datasets are now available on the Clearinghouse.  Others are not available on this site but are still available to Data Sharing Cooperative members. Please contact the dataset owner or the GIS Program Office to access the data.

We’re a Cooperative member, how do we access a dataset we use that was locked on the old Clearinghouse?

Some of the datasets are now freely available on the Clearinghouse.  For others, please contact the dataset owner or the GIS Program Office.

Can a consultant who is working for a member of the Cooperative have access to the Cooperative’s GIS data?

Yes.  The Data Sharing cooperative member can obtain the data for their consultant’s use, providing the consultant adheres to the rules of use in the Data Sharing Agreement.