Skip navigation
All Places > ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World > Blog > 2018 > February

by Shane Matthews


Esri’s Community Program contributors have added new and updated map layers to Esri’s Online Basemaps.

There is new and updated content for 62 communities. This release includes several states, counties, cities, facility sites, and protected areas throughout Canada, Czech Republic, France, Israel, Monaco, Slovakia, Sweden and the United States, as seen in this Story Map.

Follow us on Twitter: @LivingAtlas

How do I Use? Combine content from the Living Atlas with your own data. Create powerful new maps and applications!

How do I contribute? Join the growing community of Living Atlas of the World contributors. There are two ways to contribute!

Living Atlas Newsletter: This newsletter will keep you and other members of the Living Atlas user community informed through success stories, examples of applied use, visibility of new content, announcements about events, and other useful resources and information. Subscribe to the Esri News for the Living Atlas Community. You can have the newsletter sent right to your inbox by subscribing here.

If you have other feedback or comments, please post them to the Living Atlas Discussion Group on GeoNet.

If you have previously used any basemap service, you may need to clear your cache in order to see the updates.

Critical Content for Disaster Response available in Living Atlas webinar recording

The Critical Content for Disaster Response available in ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World Part 1 and Critical Content for Disaster Response available in ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World Part 2 recordings are now available!

Natural disasters have dramatically increased in frequency and intensity over the past couple of years. Esri has been there to offer GIS support and assistance before, during, and after significant emergencies and events. In this webinar Jeff Baranyi, Esri Public Safety Assistance Program Operations Manager at Esri, will describe how Esri has helped organizations with disaster relief by utilizing the ready-to-use, curated content in the Living Atlas. Daniel Siegel, Living Atlas Earth Observations curator, will demonstrate how to find and use this content for your own planning and analysis work.

The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World website has been redesigned to make learning, using, and contributing to the Living Atlas effortless. In addition to improving search, three new pages were added to the website: Browse, Apps, and Blogs. The Browse page now houses the content discovery tools including search, browse, and filter that were formerly on the Home page. This frees up the Home page to highlight new content and provide an introduction to the Living Atlas. The Apps page was created to highlight Apps in the Living Atlas. A Blogs page was also added to conveniently deliver ArcGIS blogs about the Living Atlas to the website. The Benefits, My Contributions, and My Favoritespages are still an integral part of the website. Here are more details about the new and updated pages:

Living Atlas website Home page

Redesigned ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World website

Redesigned Home Page

The Home page now includes the latest information and announcements from Esri! Power users can search Living Atlas content directly from this page. New users can learn more about using the different item types in the Living Atlas, including adding Living Atlas content to your projects and making it your own. You can meet a few of our contributors and get your questions answered, whether it be through GeoNet or the Q & A.

Living Atlas website Home page

ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World website Home page

New Apps Page

Apps are a powerful part of the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. They provide a way for users to combine content from the Living Atlas for visualization and analysis. They can help tell a story or solve a problem. The new Apps page features apps that use Living Atlas content to display historical, imagery, landscape, weather, and climate information. View the app, get the code, and learn about the contributor all from this new resource!

Living Atlas website Apps page

ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World website Apps page

New Blog Page

The Blog page takes users to the ArcGIS Blog website filtered by the Living Atlas category. This is a great place to learn about upcoming releases, improvements, and enhancements to the Living Atlas written by members of the Living Atlas team and others at Esri. This is also where you can find tips and tricks, how-to articles, and information on events such as webinars. Learn how you can improve your work from the experts at Esri!

Living Atlas category ArcGIS Blog

ArcGIS Blog with Living Atlas category selected

For the latest Living Atlas updates follow us on Twitter and join the group on GeoNet.

by Rajinder Nagi


ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World provides foundation elevation layers to support your work in 2D and 3D. Over the last couple of years, Esri has been developing World Elevation Services primarily from best authoritative data from open sources and contributions to the Esri Community Maps for Elevation program.

We are glad to announce that we are adding  global elevation data from Airbus Defence and Space to further enhance Esri Elevation Layers (Terrain and TopoBathy) and Tools (Profile, Viewshed and Summarize Elevation). WorldDEM4Ortho, which is based on the global WorldDEM dataset, has a resolution of 0.8 arc second (approx. 24 meters) with a vertical accuracy of ~ 4 m (LE90%)* on a global scale. Covering the entire earth’s land surface (excluding the countries of Azerbaijan, DR Congo and Ukraine), this is the most consistent and accurate satellite-based elevation model on a global scale. This dataset brings many improvements over areas with SRTM 30 m coverage and areas above latitudes of 60 degree north and south.

This dataset is now available in world elevation layers and tools to all ArcGIS Online subscribers. Let’s see few examples showing enhancements over SRTM 30 m.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania – a dormant stratovolcano and the highest mountain in Africa at an elevation of 5,895 m (19,341 ft) above sea level (SRTM 30 m vs WorldDEM4Ortho 24 m)

A portion near Craters Highland, Tanzania depicted with newly released WorldDEM4Ortho 24 m (bottom) showing improvements over SRTM 30 m (top)

Cotopaxi, Ecuador– an active stratovolcano in Andes mountains and the second highest summit in Ecuador at an elevation of 5,897 m (19,347 ft) above sea level (SRTM 30 m vs WorldDEM4Ortho 24 m)

Ojos del Salado—the highest active volcano in the world at 6,893 m (22,615 ft) on the Argentina–Chile border (SRTM 30 m vs WorldDEM4Ortho 24 m) 

Nevado Sajam, Bolivia —an extinct stratovolcano and the highest peak in Bolivia at 6,542 m (21,463 ft) above sea level (SRTM 30 m vs WorldDEM4Ortho 24 m) 

Mount Fuji, Japan – an active stratovolcano and the highest mountain in Japan at an elevation of 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft) above sea level (SRTM 30 m vs WorldDEM4Ortho 24 m)

The world elevation image services (Terrain and TopoBathy) are a collection of multi-resolution and multi-source elevation data that can be used  for visualization (such as multi-directional hillshadetinted hillshade) and analysis. When using for visualization, the service will automatically display the data from best source at a given location, thus providing a seamless user experience. With this update, Airbus WorldDEM4Ortho will take priority over SRTM when rendering visualizations.

While doing analysis in ArcGIS desktop clients (Pro or ArcMap), you need to choose a dataset from the service depending upon your analysis requirements. These services being dynamic image services provides the ability to make a request in user defined coordinate system, cell size and extent which make these suitable to use for analysis. Each dataset in these services has a unique identifier and a query can be defined based on ProductName or Dataset_ID. For example, a definition query of “ProductName” = ‘Airbus_WorldDEM4Ortho_24m’ will filter data pertaining to the Airbus WorldDEM4Ortho grid only. To make a request in user defined parameters, use the Make Image Server Layer geoprocessing tool. This tool generates a temporary layer that can be used as an input in other geoprocessing tools to perform analysis.

Airbus WorldDEM4Ortho is also rolled out in Elevation Analysis Tools (ProfileViewshed and Summarize Elevation) and can be invoked in these tools by selecting 24 m option from the drop-down menu of DEM Resolution parameter.

These updates will also be rolled out to other world elevation derivative products – Elevation 3D (Terrain3D and TopoBathy3D), World Hillshade and World Topo Base over the next month or so. Stay tuned!

For more information about the various data sources available in World Elevation services, check out Elevation coverage map. Esri will keep improving World Elevation Services, Tools and derivative products by including high resolution data from open source and Esri Community Maps program. Additionally, to contribute high-resolution elevation data to Living Atlas of the World, check out the Esri Community Maps for Elevation program.

Excluding urban areas which are flattened (DTM like areas), area of Antarctica and areas where substituted datasets are used.

by Andrew Green


Updating your existing web maps or Pro projects to use the new version (v2) of the Esri Vector Basemaps can be accomplished with a just a few clicks of the mouse. The benefits of using the Esri Vector Basemaps were shared in a recent blog post and we updated the vector map content again this week. This latest release includes newer HERE data for both North America and Europe as well as 14 new and 16 updated contributions added through our Community Maps Program.

V2 is the current version and the only version we’re updating now. If you’ve been using vector basemaps prior to December 2017, you need to update the version in your web maps or in Pro. The basemap doesn’t automatically change. This blog walks you through how to find out if you’re using an older version of the vector tiles and how to make the upgrade to our new version (v2).  These steps cover the most common scenarios for making the switch in ArcGIS Online or Pro.


Streets (with Relief) update



Question:  How can I tell if I’m using an older version of the Esri vector tiles?

Answer:  In your web map’s Contents, expand the basemap layer and view the More Options dropdown (three blue dots).
Click on Show Item Details.

Show Item Details


The item page opens and there many “warning signs” that this map is an older version. Item 6 is the most relevant if you made your own copy of and/or customized an Esri Vector Basemap layer.

  1. Title contains “…(Mature Support)”
  2. Summary states “This (v1) vector tile layer is in mature support…”
  3. It shows it’s Deprecated next to the thumbnail
  4. The item description begins with an important note…
  5. Tags show “v1, mature support, deprecated”
  6. URL path contains v1 (or possibly b2 from our beta release)

Mature Support

Tags and URL



HOW TO UPDATE TO (v2)… step by step


1) WHO:  Users in an organization already configured to use the default Esri Vector Basemap gallery.

If you don’t already have this option, but want to add it to your ArcGIS Online org, your admin can:

  1. Click Edit Settings under Organization
  2. Select the Map tab
  3. In the Basemap Gallery section check “Use Esri vector basemaps in supported ArcGIS apps”
  4. Click Save.

You can also include vector basemaps in your custom gallery. This gallery will then be used in all supported ArcGIS apps.

Default Esri Vector Basemap Gallery


HOW TO: From the Basemap tab in ArcGIS Online, select one of the Esri Vector Basemaps from this default gallery and resave your web map.

In Pro, the process is similar. Under the Map tab, Basemaps, select one of the vector basemaps from the gallery. This will replace your existing basemap with the new version (v2) vector basemap, no matter if it was an older (v1) vector basemap or a raster basemap. These vector web maps in the gallery will always be configured to contain the latest version of the vector layers.

Select a basemap



2) WHO:  Users who aren’t using the default Esri Vector Basemap gallery, but are using an Esri vector layer (v1) as their basemap or as another layer.

This approach adds a new (v2) layer you can configure as a basemap or keep as a separate layer in your web map. Follow this approach if you’re updating to a vector basemap from a raster basemap or if you’re updating from your own customized basemap.


HOW TO:  The most direct route in ArcGIS Online is to Add > Browse Living Atlas Layers.

This approach is similar in ArcGIS Pro. There you search through Catalog > Portal > Living Atlas. In the map viewer, you can also select Search for Layers:  from ArcGIS Online, in your Content, or in your Organization, etc. You still enter through the Add tab and set your search options accordingly.

Browse Living Atlas Layers


In the Browse Living Atlas Layers, narrow your search by showing only Esri layers from the Esri Basemaps category and limiting the search with keyword:  vector.

Browse Living Atlas Layers in ArcGIS Online


Hovering over the map thumbnail displays a description of the layer. In this example World Navigation Map has the summary:  This (v2) vector tile layer… You have options how to add this to your web map: As Layer or As Basemap.

Living Atlas v2 Hover and Add

If you are replacing only one layer in your basemap, you can Add to map > As Basemap.  This option will entirely replace the existing basemap in your web map with this new version (v2). This works well for styles such as Streets, Streets (at Night), and Navigation.

Some basemaps have multiple layers. This includes the Topographic, Streets (with Relief), Dark and Light Canvas (base and reference), and Terrain with Labels (base and reference) which all use World Hillshade as an underlying raster layer. Imagery Hybrid style includes World Imagery.

If you added one of these multi-layer styles As Basemap, it would remove ALL the other layers in the basemap.  For example:  Imagery Hybrid basemap includes a raster Imagery layer plus the vector Hybrid Reference layer. You only want to update the vector layer. That’s why Add to map > As Layer is the option for these styles.

For these basemap styles, Add to map > As Layer and manually configure these new layers in your basemap (see (A) below). When you add as layer, the new version (v2) layer is added as the top layer in your Content (B). Next, you should remove the older (v1) layer from within your basemap (C).

Adding Vector Tile Layer steps A B C


Move the new layer into the basemap (see (D) below). Within the basemap you can order the layers so they appear as you intend (Move up/Move down). The result looks like where you started, but now includes the new (v2) layer (E). In the case of the canvas styles or styles with relief or imagery, you will need to set the (v2) layer as a reference layer to ensure the correct display (F). You can always check the version of the map by clicking on the Show Item Details from the layer dropdown menu as detailed earlier in this blog. Save your web map.

Adding layers steps D E F



These approaches to updating your web maps allow you take advantage of our new version (v2) of the Esri Vector Basemaps. To stay up-to-date on vector basemap news, see our collection of blogs.


Tell us about your experience with Esri Vector Basemaps

Click here for a survey.

by Robert Waterman


From hundreds of new and refreshed +Metro cities, to a massive broad area update of the United States, we have been very busy producing, curating, and publishing content for World Imagery.

DigitalGlobe Basemap +Vivid
+Vivid is our primary imagery basemap solution for providing high quality, high resolution, broad area global imagery. We have introduced new coverage for areas that previously lacked high resolution imagery, and we continue to refresh existing coverage.
Recent and pending +Vivid Updates include: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada North West Territories and Yukon, United Kingdom, United States, and coming soon…a refresh of Western Europe.

The release of +Vivid across the United States is a significant step forward in terms of optimizing the overall depth, breadth, and currency of World Imagery coverage…

  • Improved Currency.  As we had already done for Western Europe, we have now replaced the existing Bing Aerial imagery across the US.  The Bing Aerial imagery was beyond the targeted currency of World Imagery (>5 years) and introducing +Vivid allowed us to bring the imagery to within 0-3 years of currency.  However, because the Bing Aerial imagery still offers significant value to some of our users, it will continue to be available through our World Imagery (Clarity) basemap tile service.
  • Improved detail – Large Scales.  +Vivid for the CONUS provides a high level of detail (50cm resolution) with very good visual consistency which means that we can deliver greater consistency across the country and across zoom levels, from medium to large scales.  Given these advantages, we have replaced most of NAIP in World Imagery.  Still need access to NAIP?  Not to worry, users can still access NAIP as an Imagery Layer through our NAIP Image Service.
  • Improved detail – Medium Scales.  Our user community has requested improved quality, detail, and currency at the mid-range scales of World Imagery.  The introduction of +Vivid has provided some key visual improvements, including coastal regions, which will enable us to follow through with this request.  More details to come on this early in 2018….
  • Tradeoffs.  While +Vivid generally provides significant improvements for World Imagery, and the source product is curated to remove most cloud coverage, clouds can occur in some locations.  If a user should encounter clouds over a location of interest, the aforementioned World Imagery (Clarity) and NAIP Image Services are excellent options for alternate sources of imagery.

Sample comparison of NAIP 2016 vs +Vivid 2016 over Lower Manhattan…

DigitalGlobe Basemap +Metro

In our ongoing effort to ‘keep it fresh’, since October, World Imagery has received new imagery for 340 +Metro cities. That is more than half of our total +Metro city count! More than 300 of these cities are second generation publications…fresh imagery for cities that we just published within the previous year! Check out What’s New – DigitalGlobe Basemap +Metro for some highlights and a full listing of cities.

Community Maps Imagery

We continue to receive many high quality and high value contributions through our Community Maps Program. World Imagery has recently received many significant Community Maps contributions. Honorable mention goes out to the Florida DOT in the United States and a number of regional contributions across New Zealand…

Florida Coverage

New Zealand Coverage

Other recent community contributions…

  • Hollister, CA
  • Nashua, NH
  • Yakima, WA
  • Port Townsend, WA
  • Minnehaha County, SD
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Gaithersburg, MD
  • Santa Rosa, CA
  • Elgin County, Canada
  • Salt Lake County, UT
  • Squamish, Canada
  • Dufferin County, Canada
  • Cambridge, Canada
  • Fargo, ND

We’ll close today’s post with best wishes and a very Happy New Year to our user community! Check back with us throughout 2018 for the latest in World Imagery updates!