An important first step in any data based advocacy efforts is to understand where formal political divisions exist around the world. These divisions (i.e., Counties or States) - frequently referred to as administrative zones - are used to determine funding allocations, voting rights, and a huge variety of other practical matters all across the globe. However, many countries cannot or do not provision this data; further, agencies that do distribute such data frequently do so under costly licensure arrangements that preclude use by disadvantaged populations. Further complicating our ability to quantify what's going on within political divisions is the fact that they change over time: from legal land swaps to the resolution of disputed boundaries. Multiple international bodies have failed to produce such a dataset due to these challenges.
The geoBoundaries project aims to provision data on administrative boundaries freely for everyone - ensuring open licensure, even if it means manually drawing boundaries from international descriptions. We always take the best available open license data, defined quantitatively as the data that is the most precise in nature.
More information on the geoBoundaries dataset can be found here.