# Geospatial data: The what and the where
- Data records observations of phenomena. Data does not exist without human observation, classification, organization, and maintenance.
- Many types of observations can be organized into datasets and visualized, but only spatial data can be visualized on a map.
- Some data is better displayed using non-map figures like bar charts or tables.
- Geospatial data records what occurs in a certain place. Geospatial data is inherently locational, and, when analyzed, can shed light on patterns across space.
- There are two elements of geospatial data: feature data (which encode information about where an observation occurs) and attribute data (which encode information about what occurs).
- An easy rule of thumb:
- Feature data includes things like state or national boundaries, cities, roads, rivers, and building - things that are physically and observably in the world.
- Attribute data describes an object’s characteristics, like the name, depth, and water quality of a river, the height, construction date, and use of a building, and household income - things you can't see with your naked eye.
More on data: observation, visualization, and discerning patterns
Check your understanding
What are the features of this map?
What are the attributes of this map?