The B.C. Geographic Warehouse (BCGW) is a central government repository of spatial and non-spatial data that is needed by Government, industry and the public in order to make decisions. The data includes Base Mapping information, such as heights of land, rivers, lakes, roads, place name and administrative boundaries, as well as government program information, like forest cover, ecosystems, economic and health indicators.

The BCGW is a foundation for the B.C. Spatial Data Infrastructure and all of the data in it is made ready for a wide variety of uses through a rigorous and standardized publication process that embraces the principles of Data Custodianship.

Why the BCGW?

The BCGW is managed by DataBC. It supports the Province’s electronic services strategy as it is designed and operated for the purposes of hosting and cataloguing sets of data (mostly spatial data) on behalf of custodial ministries and other government custodial agencies.

The BCGW’s access tools include ArcGIS for direct GIS access to spatial data, iMapBC and other web-based mapping tools, Discovery and Distribution Services for locating and downloading data.

The main purpose of the BCGW is to make data available to users in a form that best supports data integration, sharing and exchange, analysis and decision-making. In general, this is the purpose of any data warehouse.

Specifically, the BCGW accomplishes the following:

  • Wide access
    • In principle, any authorized person can gain access from anywhere on the internet, and browse, view, order and download data.
  • Suited for purpose
    • By means of data transformation, the BCGW allows data to be formatted and presented in a form useful to different audiences.
  • Integration
    • It allows data to be viewed, combined and analyzed with other data.
  • User empowerment
    • It includes some simple but effective data viewing and analysis tools.

By virtue of these features, the BCGW can provide substantial benefits for both Data Custodians and Data Managers. In particular it responds to Data Custodians’ obligations to provide wide access to current, complete and authoritative data. It does this in a controlled manner, allowing graduated access from generalized browsing and viewing through to in-depth content access.

How does the BCGW Work?

The BCGW is somewhat similar to a distribution warehouse that you find in a manufacturing supply chain.

The BCGW’s data publishing and distribution process works as follows:

  • Government ministries and agencies (the data providers) produce data, which they publish to the BCGW. (This is like component manufacturers creating goods and shipping them to a warehouse.)
  • At the warehouse, the data is:
    • repackaged for consumer use - i.e., for the broad audience that uses the BCGW;
    • checked for valid format and structure; and then
    • stored and made available for browsing and viewing via an online catalogue.
  • Data consumers browse and select data products from the warehouse, which are distributed to them, generally using download via the internet.

Information Management through the BCGW

Information Management through the BCGW



The BCGW provides the opportunity and means for Data Custodians to present their data to a wide audience of users.

In this respect, the BCGW is enabling technology. It provides two sets of services - one set to assist Data Custodians to present their data, the other set to help user access and use the data.

These are the benefits:

  • Relieves Data Custodians and managers of many of the costs and headaches of making their data widely accessible
  • Easier user access to manage by virtue of a standard security model
  • Provides ability to structure, integrate and package data to better suit user needs
  • Improves the user experience by offering a standard user interface and set of familiar tools
  • Allows easier viewing and integration with other BCGW data