Open Milwaukee County Topographic and Planimetric Data

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By Stephen Appel


Open data in Milwaukee has made a huge leap forward this year with the new download capabilities from the Milwaukee County Automated Mapping and Land Information Service (MCAMLIS) out of the Milwaukee County Land Information Office (MCLIO).  The MCAMLIS viewer is a feature-full web mapping application that can be found at  The current web viewer is in its second generation and we expect a third generation web map soon!

Second generation MACAMLIS data viewer

In the past, the American Geographical Society Library has entered into a license agreement with the MCLIO which allowed us to distribute the raw data from the MCAMLIS system to UWM users for classroom use only.  The data has been available in geodatabase, AutoCAD, and Microstation formats and has been most popular with Urban Planning, Geography, and Architecture students and researchers.  Library patrons requesting the data had been required to sign a special MCAMLIS request form and agree to the conditions of the license.  The library was also restricted from providing the full county dataset and instead distributed tiles to cover a patron’s area of interest.

As of this year, the MCLIO has made MCAMLIS base map data available for download from their website:  They have also implemented a data download application which is especially helpful if you are only interested in a limited area of the county.  The application allows for download of Geodatabase and AutoCAD Drawing formats.  The data download application can be found in the online application gallery:

The MCAMLIS topo/planimetric dataset is one of the best collections of high resolution planning data available for Milwaukee County.  The features include environmental, hydrologic, park, planimetric, survey control, topographic, transportation, and utility objects.  Within each of these categories, there are three feature classes representing 1) text annotations, 2) point features, and 3) line features.  In the new File Geodatabase, some of the line features are also available as polygons.

Some of the more useful features that can be extracted from the geodatabase include utility poles, elevation bench marks, topographic contours, tree points, paved roads, driveways, trails, sidewalks, railroads, airport runways, water bodies, structures (buildings), dams, bridges, walls, and text annotation features.

An example of the level of detail available in MCAMLIS data shown here in ArcGIS Desktop 10.2

If you think that the MCAMLIS topographic and planimetric features would be useful for your project, but you’re unsure about the data, the AGS library GIS services staff can help.  We have been users and distributers of this dataset for almost two decades and have extensive metadata and feature description information that are not included with the download from the MCLIO website.  We also have a guide available for extracting individual features from the larger dataset.  Contact or visit our GIS staff at the AGS library if you would like more information about the MCAMLIS datasets.


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