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titleCollege / University


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titleThe Guidelines define College and University as follows:
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A building or building complex used as an institution of higher learning that grants a degree at the completion of a course of studies.

  • INDICATORS: offers associates degrees or higher.

INCLUDES: 4‐year universities and community colleges, junior colleges requiring a high school diploma or equivalent for admission.

DOES NOT INCLUDE: Technical / trade schools offering technical training for job-specific certifications.


What is a College / University? 

The key indicator of a college or university is that the institution grants degrees.  There are 4 types of degrees: Associate, Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral.

Degree-granting is generally regulated by the States, with each having a higher education agency to oversee degree-granting institutions. The U.S. Department of Education has a list of these higher education agencies that maintain lists of the degree-granting institutions in their state.


For the most part, this degree-granting requirement leaves out vocational schools (also called trade schools, career schools, or technical schools), which generally grant certificates but not degrees; these should be captured as a Technical / Trade School. An exception is technical colleges which do grant degrees; these should be captured as a College / University structure.  

It is important to note that we are not collecting university extension locations whose primary mission is to perform community outreach. If a university manages an alternative campus and its title includes the term “Extension”, this point can be collected so long as this campus serves students enrolled in a degree-granting program. If the alternative “Extension” campus only provides education and outreach to the community, this does not meet our definition of a College / University and therefore is not a point we would collect. Check out this Q&A entry for more on how to handle University extensions.

Where can I find authoritative lists of College / University structures?
An institution’s individual website is the best place to find authoritative information on a College / University.  Therefore,
it is highly recommended that users confirm the information on these lists by locating the website for each College / University listed.

The closest thing to a national list may be the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). NCES maintains a database of primary, secondary, and higher education (aka, college) institutions. Users can search the NCES database for colleges.

Each state also has a higher education agency that may include a list of colleges and universities within their state.  

Check out our Authoritative Sources List for more on the types of sources that are acceptable.

Where do I place a College / University structure point?
In general, each college and/or university campus should be represented by a single structure point placed on the administrative building for that institution. If one does not have firsthand knowledge of the location of the administration building, it can usually be found on the school's campus map. If the location of the administration building cannot be determined, then place the structure point on a building at the center of the campus.A university campus may contain several colleges or schools (i.e., College of Arts, College of Sciences, School of Business, School of Medicine), but so long as these are units of the same university and located on the same campus, then they should be not be added as separate points. One point would represent the university or college. However in some cases, separate institutions may share the same campus (for example, the Auraria campus in Denver, Colorado is home to Metropolitan State University of Denver, the University of Colorado Denver, and the Community College of Denver) – in this case each institution should be represented by a separate point. Some colleges, especially in an urban environment, may have multiple campuses or widely dispersed buildings. In general a separate campus should be represented by its own structure point. However, if a dispersed college location consists of a single building, or a few rooms in a single building, then use your best judgment as to whether it is important enough to be considered a campus and therefore justify a separate structure point. Medical schools that are co-located with hospitals should be represented by a separate College / University structure point. The associated hospital would be represented as a separate Hospital structure point.

For more information on how to properly place a College / University point, check out the “Aerial Photo Interpretation Part 10: Colleges / Universities” article in our March May 2019 Newsletter.


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titleFire Station / EMS Station


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titleThe Guidelines define Fire Stations and EMS Stations as follows:
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A building that contains fire‐fighting equipment and personnel or a provider of combined fire‐fighting and rescue services.

  • INDICATORS: A facility that houses a fire engine and from which fire response occurs; can be a station or substation.

INCLUDES: Buildings that contain fire response equipment and serve as a location to which fire personnel report before being dispatched into the community.  May also providecombined emergency medical services operations and/or rescue services.  

DOES NOT INCLUDE: Ambulance stations not part of fire‐fighting services, locations solely for fire equipment storage (i.e., no fire response from that location), fire hall meeting facilities.

What is a Fire Station/EMS Station?

The basic requirement for a Fire Station/EMS Station is that the structure contains a fire engine. It may or may not also house an ambulance. Fire personnel visit the station on a regular basis to keep the equipment clean and shiny and ready to go, and before being dispatched into the community for an emergency. It may only have volunteer responders and not full time personnel on site.

For more information on where to properly place a Fire Station / EMS Station, check out the "Aerial Photo Interpretation Part 3: Fire Stations/EMS" article in our January 2018 Newsletter.

Where can I find authoritative lists of  Fire Stations?

Fire department web pages are the best source of data, but may not specify the locations of stations. Fire Departments in smaller and/or rural communities may have their own Facebook page in place of a website. Page 6 of our July 2017 Newsletter has an infographic on Facebook as an authoritative source.

County and city websites also often have information about fire departments through their emergency management offices.The US Fire Administration has the most complete nationwide list of fire departments, however this data may be dated and not complete. Their list is the result of a voluntary National Fire Department Census wherein during the years 2001 to 2004 fire departments filled out and handed in survey forms. The USFA is "continuously working to encourage more fire departments to participate in the census," however, since the original census now is almost 20 years old, some of the information is out of date. The list can be downloaded for the entire nation or by state. The list is by fire department, so it will tell you how many stations a Fire Department has, but not where they are. There may be some contact information, such as address, phone number, and website.Check out our Authoritative Sources List for more on the types of sources that are acceptable.

How do I name a Fire Station?

Try to find out the official name of the station; it often has the format: <fire-department-name> <station-name>. For example "Denver Fire Department Station 1". Official station names sometimes have either a "-" or a "/" in the station name, and while the Attribute Guidelines say that special characters should be avoided, they can be used if necessary to document an official fire station name.

Check out our Name and Address Formatting guide for more on how to properly name fire stations.

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