Data Observatory

Data Observatory

Getting started

The Data Observatory is a spatial data platform that enables you to augment your data with the latest and greatest in spatial data. With a catalog of thousands of spatial datasets from public and premium sources that have been vetted by our Data team, the Data Observatory provides a streamlined process to reduce the operational inefficiencies of discovering, licensing, and accessing spatial data.

We strongly recommend reading through the Terminology section to get familiar with all the components of the Data Observatory.

In the following sections you will find a collection of resources where you can learn how to:

Data subscriptions

Check out the following guides to learn how to find and subscribe to Data Observatory datasets:

Data access and analysis

From your CARTO Dashboard

Data Observatory datasets that are smaller than 2GB are synced into a table in your CARTO account upon subscription. You can identify these tables as those with a subscription tag.

Data Observatory sync table.

You can access these tables from any of the tools available in your CARTO Dashboard, including Builder, where you can create custom dashboards and analyses. Read more in this guide.

From CARTOframes

Our Python library CARTOframes is a great tool to access Data Observatory datasets of any size from your Python code or notebook. To get started, please refer to this guide from the CARTOframes documentation page or download the example notebook provided in the Your subscriptions page of the Dashboard.

Data Observatory example notebook for CARTOframes.

CARTOframes also offers a set of functions to enrich your datasets with any of the variables from your Data Observatory subscriptions by performing a spatial join between them and your own data. Enrichment is an essential step to incorporate Data Observatory data into your spatial analysis workflows. You can learn more in this guide.

From your cloud data storage or warehouse

You can also access your subscriptions directly from BigQuery, AWS, or Azure. Refer to this step-by-step guide to learn more. If you are a BigQuery user, you can also leverage the Analytics Toolbox for BigQuery to perform spatial analysis using your Data Observatory datasets without leaving your BigQuery console.

Data Observatory access in menu.

Data visualization

From your CARTO Dashboard

Data Observatory datasets that are smaller than 2GB can be visualized within Builder. You can easily do so by clicking on the Create map action in the Your subscriptions page of the Dashboard.

Using Builder to create a map from Data Observatory data.
Data Observatory example map in Builder.

From CARTOframes

Our Python library CARTOframes allows you to create and embed interactive maps with your CARTO data, including Data Observatory datasets, directly from your notebooks. Please refer to this guide to learn more.

Data Observatory example map in CARTOframes.

Using tilesets

Some of the spatial datasets offered in the Data Observatory are massive (a few TB), either due to their global coverage, such as WorldPop or NASADEM, or their fine granularity, such as ACS Sociodemographics at census block group level, and their visualization requires the creation of tilesets using the Analytics Toolbox for BigQuery.

To create your own Data Observatory tilesets, from either your public or premium subscriptions, simply find the location of your subscription in BigQuery using the “Access in BigQuery” functionality and run the Tiler from your console. Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you through the process.

Tilesets can be visualized directly from the CARTO Workspace or integrated into your custom spatial applications using CARTO for following this example code.