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"Web mapping? Sure, I use digital maps!" is a statement I hear fairly often. On the surface, it seems that these two concepts are the same. Indeed, for nearly 20 years, since the 1990s with MapQuest and in the 2000s with maps on mobile devices, interacting with maps in digital form rather than paper has been the more common everyday experience. But I submit that "web mapping" is not the same as simply using maps on the web, whether in health, energy, city planning, or, as is the focus here, in education.


In my view, using maps on the web includes looking up a place name, examining thematic maps such as ocean currents, world biomes, or demographic characteristics by neighborhood across your city, finding the distance between two points on a map, finding the route between two points, mapping locations that you have visited in the field, and so on. Nothing wrong with any of those tasks. Using maps on the web focuses on the "What's Where?" question.

But web mapping's purpose is for examining patterns, relationships, and trends. It examines change over space and time at a variety of scales, and across themes. For example, what is the relationship between the location of mines and water quality across a mountain watershed, or between median age and median income across a city? How does the land use change across a region over time, or the precipitation across a mountain range? All of these questions end with, "And why?" Charles Gritzner wrote a great article about geography being about what is where, why there, and why care.  Web mapping focuses on the "Why there"? and "why care?" part of Gritzner's framework. 


To summarize in tabular form:


Maps on the webWeb Mapping


             Navigation       Navigation
             Visualization       Visualization
       Creating web mapping applications
       Collecting and exploring field-collected data
Where are the field sites I visited?Why does the water quality vary across the field sites I visited?
Where are the younger and less affluent neighborhoods in this city?Is there a spatial and attribute relationship between median age and median income in this city, and if so, what is the relationship, why does it exist, and does it change over time?
Where is the mountain range in a region and what is the precipitation regime across them?How and why does the precipitation regime change across the mountain range?


Using maps on the web is a stepping stone to web mapping, but is not exactly the same as web mapping. They are not exactly the same thing, but there is overlap between them to be sure.


In short, web mapping uses the concept of GIS as a platform, including web, mobile, and desktop, with its analytical, multimedia, and application ability, to its full potential. 


The educational implications of this are many.  How do we teach in this new paradigm of web mapping?  What concepts should we teach, and what skills should we seek to foster?  What tools and data sets should we use?  How should we incorporate new field techniques and apps?  How should we assess student work given the ease of creating web mapping applications such as story maps?  How should our primary, secondary, community college, and university courses and programs change to encompass this new world?  


In addition, Web GIS is not just "more and better" GIS, it also requires new ways of managing GIS. 


All of this is part of the continued shift from desktop-only GIS to web GIS.  This shift involves the movement:

  • from software products to platforms and APIs,
  • from client/server to web services and apps,
  • from standalone desktop to connected devices,
  • from print maps to web maps and data visualizations,
  • from static data to data services, streams, and big data
  • from custom applications to interoperable packages and libraries
  • from a single all purpose application to many pathways and focused apps
  • from proprietary data to open data and shared services.



If all this seems like mere semantics, this is why I believe this matters: Like all of you, I care deeply about meaningful student learning with geotechnologies. To foster spatial and critical thinking with geotechnologies requires more than looking up place names on a map, or routes from a certain point to another point. It requires that we be purposeful about using maps as the analytical, exploratory tools that they are.


Education for a brighter future with GIS

Using the Web GIS paradigm in education and society offers a brighter future for students and the entire planet.

In a recent Ed Summit 2018 workshop on “Best Practices for Administering ArcGIS in Education” we shared a number of recommended workflows applicable to academic setting. Some of the key ideas are below:


  • Web GIS is not just “more and better” GIS, rather a whole new way of doing GIS, which requires new ways of managing GIS.
  • Build bridges with stakeholders within your institution who can facilitate these best practices – collaborate with experts in enterprise systems, identity management, information assurance, etc.
  • Maximize access to ArcGIS and minimize time/cost spent managing ArcGIS - it takes more time to restrict access.
  • Enable enterprise logins, commonly referred to as Single Sign On (SSO), and auto-provision new users for Role (Publisher), Credits, Esri Access, Entitlements, etc. This eliminates manual account creation and management when user status changes (student graduates, faculty retire, staff leave).
  • Enable access for everyone – once SSO is implemented, new users can automatically join and leverage the technology. Consider ArcGIS to be enterprise-level system similar to email, LMS, file servers. 
  • Enable Esri Access for any incoming user as part of auto-provisioning (possible after latest June 2018 ArcGIS Online release) – empowering users to help themselves by getting access to Esri Training, Learn ArcGIS, GeoNet.
  • Enable access to everything – grant entitlements for all common apps (ArcGIS Pro, GeoPlanner, Insights for ArcGIS, Community Analyst, Business Analyst, etc.) for any incoming users (currently done via script). Ensure that any such scripting is enterprise-level – robust, scalable, secure, reliable.
  • Set credit quota – high enough so that users can do their work, low enough to protect them from mistakes.
  • Use a single ArcGIS Online organization, where possible, which avoids impeding collaboration and means reduced combined management workload.
  • Disable offline licensing for ArcGIS Pro via Named User licensing, and instead provide Single-Use licenses for potential offline use cases. 
  • Do nothing as a best practice – no need to delete accounts, delete content, etc. 
    • Rely on official institution sources to track when person’s status changes – students graduate, faculty retire, staff leave – configure SSO to deny access for ineligible users.
    • Do not delete content as there may be dependencies and others may be relying on this content.


We welcome any feedback on the above recommendations!


Peter Knoop (University of Michigan)

Geri Miller (Esri)

"It's the work of freedom." These words by history teacher Mariana Ramirez near the end of the education section of the 2018 Esri User Conference plenary summarize the power of teachers helping students investigate their world. The Math, Science, & Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School, in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, presented their work on Esri's stage in 2013, and two teachers (Ramirez and English teacher Alice Im) were brought back in 2018 to receive the "Making a Difference" award, because the work their students do is such a powerful model.


Theirs is not a "simple research project" that could be replicated immediately in any given week, or even a month. Teaching under-privileged youth in an inner city public high school sometimes involves helping students facing serious personal responsibilities and family distress, working with English language learners, overcoming difficulties in reading and math, wrestling with layers of "administrivia," coping with inadequate resources, all while covering classroom content. How then does one help students build substantial background knowledge and long-term life skills?


MSTMA at Esri UC 2018

Amid exploding reams of data, often conflicting or unbalanced sources, and shifting and confusing scales of attention and value, what matters is not accumulation of facts but ability to learn -- to ask good questions, handle varied inputs, derive substantive meaning, think critically, make good decisions, and act, singly and in concert with others. Teaching these skills takes all the time, energy, empathy, attention to detail, coaching skill, content expertise, pedagogical experience, planning and adaptability, capacity to tolerate risk and withstand failure, and multi-tasking that a teacher can muster, for dozens of students at a time, typically over 100 on any given day. The best teachers know that education is a process of engagement, not simply delivery. They teach people, not content, and so tweak their interactions scores of times per minute, at once speaking, listening, looking, feeling, cataloguing, digesting, planning, and reacting … explaining here, asking there, cajoling one, praising another … all while helping to erect the scaffolds of knowledge and skill, and the trust with which students frame their view of the world.


MSTMA presents to Esri

Because of its capacity for incorporating limitless types, amounts, and scales of data, GIS is a powerful tool for learning. The MSTMA teachers help students build their skills, then turn the focus to the world they know, asking them to dig deep, seek the data, analyze it, and present their conclusions. It takes time to build the requisite skills, conduct the research, and present to their peers, their teachers, their community, and the broader outside world. But the students recognize the rewards, inside and out, often very quickly, occasionally only over time.


"One person can make a difference … and everybody should try," says Esri president Jack Dangermond at the close, echoing the words of President John F. Kennedy. Anyone in doubt, or anyone simply seeking affirmation, need only watch the video, and then share it. "It's the work of freedom."

I taught a story mapping workshop and a growth in tribal GIS colleges workshop at the Society for Conservation GIS conference, and have attached the slides and activities for these workshops to this essay.  The story mapping workshop covered why to use story maps, how to use story maps, and how to create map tour, swipe, series, map journal, and other types of story maps.  The tribal GIS workshop covered the application of GIS to teaching and learning in Tribal Colleges, the recent 2nd edition of the Tribal GIS book published by Esri Press, and other related topics. 


I created these materials for the annual conference of the Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS).  SCGIS is a non-profit organization that assists conservationists worldwide in using GIS through communication, networking, scholarships, and training, and it was a pleasure working with the participants.   The themes, tools, and approaches in these materials will be useful to other communities, and I hope you find them useful, too!

Site of the SCGIS conference - Pacific Grove, California.

Site of the SCGIS conference - Pacific Grove, California, and its unique coastal ecosystem. 



Last year I wrote guidelines on how to go beyond the standard base maps available in ArcGIS Online to access others that are now available.  There's plenty to love about standard base maps - satellite imagery, OpenStreetMap, National Geographic, and others, and for the USA, the USGS topographic maps.  But the ability to easily access the unusual and fascinating ones such as Colored Pencil and Antique Modern is interesting and useful in many ways, such as integrating Arts into your STEM instruction (thereby creating "STEAM"), for discussion about cartography, to lend interest to your maps, analysis, and story maps, and much more.


There are additional ways to access these maps over and above the ways I described in my previous essay.  One way is to access a map that contains a set of new custom vector tile base maps, on  Change the base maps simply with the base maps tool.  Grab the URL for the base maps that you are interested in and use it in your own maps - many are listed here:  


The newspaper base map, showing central London.


The newspaper base map, showing central London, but available globally at multiple scales. 


Since ArcGIS is an integrated system (web, desktop, field, enterprise), you can also access these base maps in ArcGIS Pro.  To add one of these base maps to your ArcGIS Pro project, click on the View Tab > Catalog Pane, > Living Atlas > Search 'vector tile basemap', as shown below. 


Adding basemaps to ArcGIS Pro.

Adding one of these fascinating base maps to ArcGIS Pro.


Now challenge yourself and your students to go the extra mile. Now that you are using a variety of different base maps, discussing the merits of each cartographically and artistically, a logical next step is for you and them to create your own base maps.  That's right!  As my colleagues describe in these guidelines, you can edit everything from fill and text symbols to fonts, halos, patterns, transparency, and zoom level visibility!  This is a great way for you to enhance your GIS and cartography skills but also to tap into your creative, artsy side!


For more information, read the GeoNet blogs about vector base maps.   Happy mapping! 


I confess, my favorite is still Colored Pencil.  What's yours? 

During this week as I spend time with 18,000 people at the Esri User Conference and at the Esri Education Summit, several themes have become evident.  First, the GIS education community has enormous energy--they are enthusiastic about the new tools and data at our fingertips, yes, but more importantly, about the task of educating primary, secondary, community college, and university students about how to use GIS effectively to tackle a wide variety of problems.  Second, they are dedicated--many are new to the field, some are 30 year veteran educators, but all are willing to invest the time needed to learn the most effective ways to teach with GIS and teach about GIS.  They see the enormous return on investment--student engagement, job opportunities, community connection, and a wiser, more informed populace.  Third, they model what it is to be a lifelong learner--willing to teach each other and learn from each other in our rapidly changing field and in our rapidly changing world.  At the conference, we heard many inspiring stories and were presented with many models of the use of geotechnologies in the areas of natural hazards, population change, energy, water, health, business, and other application areas that we can use in our instruction. 


For example, at the Education Summit keynote, stories were shared about the progress of GIS in education in the UK and beyond, about how the University of Southern California is understanding aging in the community, and how an innovative masters degree among three universities in Europe was conceived and implemented.  We learned about new imagery, layers in the Living Atlas of the World, new capabilities in field apps, in ArcGIS Pro, in Community Analyst, and in ArcGIS Online that we can use.  We learned about new books such as Cartography and Getting to Know Web GIS, new resources such as the new Esri Training site and the Learn ArcGIS library, that can be accessed again and again.  


Our community is faced with an enormous challenge--to increase the spatial literacy of our students, and by extension, all of society.  But we have excellent tools, excellent data, and most of all--a wonderful and diverse community of people, to meet this challenge for a brighter future.   


Esri User Conference 1

Learning about new tools, resources, and people at the Esri User Conference plenary session.


One of the Young Scholars at the Esri UC

One of the Esri Young Scholars.   They came from all over the world and were truly were inspiring. 


At the Esri User Conference

Learning and growing at the Esri User Conference Expo. 

The Living Atlas of the World is a growing, curated, authoritative set of map content for your projects.  Here are 7 free lessons that use the incredible Living Atlas of the World -…   


These lessons cover a diversity of tools, such as ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online,  ArcGIS Earth--even Adobe Illustrator!  They cover a variety of themes, such as poverty, open space, public safety--even Chinese food delivery!  They cover scales from local to global--electronic stores in Manhattan, child poverty in Detroit, the Vietnam War, aquaculture in Thailand, and more. 


Give these lessons a try as a way of understanding spatial problems, GIS, and data--for yourself, for your students, or both.



One of the 7 Learn ArcGIS lessons using the Living Atlas of the World.

One of the lessons in the set of 7 free lessons that use the Living Atlas of the World.

Like many of you reading this, I love to teach, and every year look forward to teaching hands-on workshops at the Esri Education GIS Summit.  It brings me joy to help educators advance in their GIS journey, and also it is extremely valuable to hear about their concerns, challenges, questions, and success stories.  This year I am serving as a teaching assistant in the story maps workshop and in a GIS for Beginners workshop.  I am also leading two workshops--Spatial Analysis in ArcGIS Online, and Survey123 for Education.  I also have been asked to give a presentation for the Esri Young Professionals Network on GIS in education.  Recognizing that not everyone can attend these sessions, I wanted to make the slides and the hands-on activities available to all via the attachments to this blog.  


1.  GIS for Beginners.  Slides.

2.  GIS for Beginners.  Activities.

3.  Spatial Analysis in ArcGIS Online.  Slides.

4.  Spatial Analysis in ArcGIS Online.  Activities.

5.  Survey123 for Education.  Slides

6.  Survey123 for Education.  Activities.

7.  My notes for my presentation about GIS in education to the Esri Young Professionals Network.


 I look forward to your feedback below, and I hope these resources are helpful.

The rapid advancement of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) data in society and in programs at universities and even in some secondary schools has led to some amazing tools and data with which to analyze the world.  Esri has a new UAV partner Hangar, which operates a very innovative service to fly areas that people request them to.  Hangar recently flew across Kilauea Hawaii and have compiled their 360-degree immersive UAV imagery into a story map.  This makes for an incredibly engaging and rich tool for use in instruction, about human-environment interaction, impact of natural hazards, plate tectonics, current events, and much more.  this list does not permit embedded images, see the image I posted here: or below.  I highly encourage you to take a look at this story map, paying particular attention to the house being engulfed in photo # 11. 


UAV images in a Kilauea story map

But that's not all.  Another recent advancement is the announcement of the new Sentinel-2 imagery in ArcGIS Online.  Sentinel-2 is part of Copernicus, the world’s largest single Earth observation program directed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency. Esri makes the multi-spectral data quickly accessible using ArcGIS Image Server and publishes an image service through the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World (Living Atlas), hosted on the Amazon Web Services Infrastructure. The service includes all Sentinel-2 imagery going back 14 months, enabling change to be easily reviewed, and is updated every 5 to 7 days.  Incredible! Image analysis can be run directly on the service to create indexes displaying properties such as vegetation health or soil moisture as well as quantifying the changes over time, for better understanding of the environment. 


Below, I added the Sentinel-2 data from ArcGIS Online, zoomed to Kilauea, and rendered the image as Geology with DRA (Dynamic Range Adjustment) which makes use of the SWIR (ShortWave Infrared) bands 1 and 2 – along with blue in the third band.  This only took a few minutes and now I can measure the length of the new lava from that day (in yellow), and make use of the Imagery with Labels or Open Street Map basemaps to determine the homes that are affected.  My students could investigate further to determine exactly which of the homes are shown in the UAV images in the above story map.   For more information, see my video on the Hangar Esri UAV story map and my video on the Sentinel-2 data.

Sentinel-2 imagery in ArcGIS Online.

Sentinel-2 imagery rendered as Geology with DRA and filtered for 23 May 2018 in ArcGIS Online. 

For a while we have recommended that the best approach for managing ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise portals, including named users, entitlements, Esri Access, credits, etc., is to enable enterprise logins, commonly referred to as Single Sign On (SSO). So far, the only supported configuration for enterprise logins was using one identity provider (IDP), Shibboleth and Active Directory Federation Services being some of the common ones in academia.   


As of the latest June 2018 release of ArcGIS Online (and the pending ArcGIS Enterprise 10.6.1 release in July), we now support enabling enterprise logins via a federation of identity providers. Identity federation allow users belonging to an existing inter-organizational federation, such as InCommon (United States), SWITCHaai (Switzerland), DFNaai (Germany), and others, to sign in with credentials supported by that federation. Each member organization continues to use their own IDP, but configures an SP (i.e. ArcGIS) to work exclusively within the federation. This is a request we’ve received by quite a few institutions and wanted to document some of the functionality and cases where it may be beneficial.


NOTE: ArcGIS is not joining the InCommon, Switch or DFN federations as a member. Hence, Esri will not be listed as an SP entity.  Rather, ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise portals will need to be added as a new SP to the federation. This will enable users to share and access their web resources within the federation, and have a seamless login experience. The following SWITCHaai documentation provides an easy to understand explanation and graphic.


  •      Cases where it would be beneficial:
    •      Requirement imposed by institution’s IT/Central Services – many institutions who are InCommon participants have been able to implement enterprise logins configured with one identity provider (IDP), however, some institutions have their own requirements that mandate support for identity federation. With identity federation supported in ArcGIS, now these institutions who have such requirement could proceed with enabling enterprise logins.
    •      Multiple campuses using multiple identity providers (IDP) – for example, three campuses of the same institution using three different Shibboleth instances to provide identification – in these instances, institutions will use identity federation to integrate with their three local Shibboleth installations. This will be an example of identity federation, which is not related to InCommon, SWITCHaai, DNFaai, or other inter-organizational federations.
    •      Potential benefits for users who wish to enable collaboration across and between different educational institutions - for example, if this capability did not exist, and a student/faculty/staff from University X wanted to access resources hosted by University Y, they would need an account from university Y to login to the portal. Therefore, to access resources spread across different, un-federated universities, one would need different login accounts, which complicates both user login experience and user management. Having identity federation will simplify this and allows for a single enterprise ID to be used (as long as the institutions belong to the same federation).
    •      Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) compatibility requirements – LTI being a protocol for various services and service providers to integrate with Learning Management Systems (LMS) – some entities have this requirement to connect LMS with external service tools (i.e. ArcGIS). Since ArcGIS technology provides a teaching and learning environment in education, this new identity federation capability could fulfil such requirements to integrate ArcGIS technology with LMS platforms.


  •      Identity federation setup and user experience:
    •      An institution must be a member of a federation to use this new feature. When administrators and IT staff configure enterprise logins using a federation of identity providers, there are a number of parameters needed, including URL of the federation (Federation Discovery Service URL), Metadata Aggregate URL, and Certificate to validate the aggregate metadata.
    •      When identity federation is configured, the same option applies as when using a single IDP – users will be able to join automatically or by invitation. When multiple institutions are members of the federation, it may be recommended to use the “Upon invitation from an administrator” option. This means that users from a federation must be explicitly invited, i.e. in the ArcGIS Online or  ArcGIS Enterprise portal settings, an administrator would go to Invite Members, and use the option “Invite members to join using their enterprise logins”. Then users would be able to have the same user login experience, using their respective institution’s enterprise credentials. Sharing of content is protected by the existing ArcGIS security model and groups are leveraged to restrict access. Note, SAML-based group membership is not yet supported with identity federation.

  •      Once the ArcGIS Online organization is registered as a member of the federation, the login experience is the same on the initial login page (when the user chooses either to login using an enterprise account or ArcGIS account). If identity federation is configured, the organization is a member of a federation of multiple members, what needs to happen is the federation needs to identify the home organization, i.e. where you are from, and a user will be prompted to a centralized Discovery Service Page, on which they will be asked which university/entity they belong to.





 Further feedback is welcome!

This year, we will be streaming the world's largest GIS gathering, the UC Plenary live on Facebook. This will be an incredible way for you to tap into the energy and atmosphere of this international event of 18,000 even if you cannot be physically at the San Diego Convention Center during the event.  The plenary will take place on Monday 9 July 2018 from 8:30am to 3:30pm Pacific Daylight Time. 


This all-day Plenary Session starts off with Esri’s vision, software roadmap, demos of winning workflows, transformation stories from peers, and inspirational keynotes.  If you’re unable to attend Esri UC in person, click the “Going” button on the Facebook link to receive updates and be a part of it.  Check out the plenary agenda starting here:  and follow us here:  


If you can attend in person, we have thousands of hours of workshops, sessions, and demos lined up to help you improve your skills and stay on top of evolving technology. More than 300 exhibitors will share the latest software, hardware, and solutions.   Register Here:  Registration Rates and Details.   


Watch the Esri User Conference plenary in Live Stream!  Mon 9 July 2018

Ever since Rajinder Naji, Dr Dawn Wright, and my other Esri colleagues announced that elevation services were in ArcGIS Online, I have been wanting to use them in Pro not just for visualization, but analysis.   More than elevation services are now available--land cover, for example, is another.  I recently began using these services and am quite pleased with the results.  I am using them in some lessons I have written where students analyze wildfires in grasslands, the optimal site for cell phone towers, and suitable lands for specific types of agriculture. Moreover, I believe this advancement represents an excellent example of the paradigm shift that GIS is in the midst of, namely, from desktop to cloud, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Data-as-a-Service.  No longer do you need to follow the standard workflow of the past two decades, where you download data that you need to your local device where you then perform the analysis.  You can access the services online and use them inside ArcGIS Pro.  Advantages are many:  You do not have to spend your valuable time searching for, downloading, clipping, and reprojecting pieces of data, which took many steps as shown in our exercises associated with the Esri Press GIS Guide to Public Domain Data book.  Furthermore, you do not have to store large data sets on your local device.  Rather, you can stream the data in for your desired study area and thus have more time for investigating, analyzing, concluding, and publishing your results. 


Elevation data supports numerous GIS applications ranging from deriving slope and aspect, stream delineation, cut and fill analysis, viewshed analysis, orthorectification of aerial photography or satellite imagery, rendering 3D visualizations, creating relief maps, and for various types of analysis and visualizations.  The elevation and land cover services are available for use within the ArcGIS Online platform, and are part of the Living Atlas. You can access the entire collection of layers along with geo-processing tools from within the Elevation Layers Group on ArcGIS Online.  Access to these global layers is free and does not consume any credits; all you need is an ArcGIS Organizational account.  The "old paradigm" of downloading and using data locally still has its place, and it will be around for some time to come.  But that's not the only option these days.  Moreover, I suspect that more raster data sets will be added in the future to the Living Atlas, and as it is added, the streaming method will become even more attractive in the future.  


If you want to simply visualize elevation, slope, aspect, and land cover, for example, use Add Data > Portal > Living Atlas > search for these layers and add them to your map view in ArcGIS Pro.  To do analysis on land cover, elevation, slope, or aspect, you need to select such items as “terrain:  slope in degrees” – and “aspect” – not the map, but the service.  Also important is to use Environments in the raster calculator (or any other geoprocessing tool that you are using) to set the analysis extent to your display, a watershed, or some other specific area so you’re not analyzing the whole country or the whole world!.  See screens below (my study area is the wonderful terrain in western Colorado).

 Raster map service from the cloud in ArcGIS Pro.

The results of my raster calculator on streaming terrain--the thin yellow areas are where the slopes are greater than 50 degrees.

Land cover data streaming from the Living Atlas, with shrub/scrub in yellow from Raster Calculator tool.

Results after Raster Calculator analysis was applied to the streaming NLCD Land Cover data, with shrub/scrub land cover shown in yellow.


Choosing raster map service from the cloud for use in ArcGIS Pro.

Searching for Terrain Slope in Degrees and Terrain Aspect (direction of slope) from the Living Atlas, using the Add Data tool in ArcGIS Pro.


For more details, see my video on this topic.  Enjoy the new paradigm!  Please share your reactions in the comments below.

Special thanks to our presenters in our Curriculum web meeting, and for the excellent discussion!! Recording and slides are now on Box.


  • Bill Slocumb (NC State University)
  • Rama Sivakumar (Georgia Tech)
  • Stephanie Deitrick (Arizona State University)


What was discussed:


  • Brief overview of programs, and respective discussion of Web GIS/Programming/Data Systems
  • Specifics on what is taught in courses
  • Overall experiences


Thank you Bill, Siva and Stephanie!

I have used The Internet Archive ( for many things over the years, from archiving multimedia that I created for my story maps to looking up information on historical web pages through their Wayback Machine, (as well as listening to some old wonderful sound recordings) and through those efforts became aware of the wealth of information on the site.   And when I say wealth, I truly mean enormous - 279 billion web pages, 11 million books and texts, 4 million audio recordings (including 160,000 live concerts), 3 million videos (including 1 million Television News programs), 1 million images, and100,000 software programs. But did you know that The Internet Archive also houses some geospatial data?  The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has existed since 1996, states that its mission is to "provide Universal Access to All Knowledge," so it makes sense that some geospatial data for the public good is there.


Let's focus here on the USGS topographic map data on The Internet Archive, also known as Digital Raster Graphics (DRGs).  Start here for a list of these maps by state, and then underneath each state, a variety of search options are available.  It isn't the most intuitive unless you know the specific map name that you are looking for, so a topographic map index may still come in handy; a scanned version of these is not easy to come by, but one such archive is here.  Formats include GeoTIFF, essential for use in a GIS.



Interface on The Internet Archive for USGS Digital Raster Graphics. 


While I still find the interface on the other main DRG archive, LibreMap, to be a bit easier to use, LibreMap is not maintained any longer, and is starting to return some errors during certain searches.  The Esri USGS Historical Map Explorer, and the USGS TopoView, which I reviewed here, is more modern approach to obtaining topographic maps, with the added benefit of historical editions.  USGS topographic maps are part of the set of basemaps available inside ArcGIS Online as data services, which is increasingly part of modern GIS workflows, rather than downloading the data and using it locally.  Still another archive is that from Historical Aerials, which I reviewed here. 



A section of my all-time favorite USGS topographic map, for Mitchell Indiana, simply because of the intricacies of the depression contours and disappearing streams in this magnificent karst landscape. 

Past and future MOOC students attending the Esri User Conference in San Diego are invited to our very first MOOC MeetUp on Tuesday July 10 from 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM in the convention center room 25 A.


- Get the latest information on the MOOC program

- Meet fellow MOOCers and MOOC instructors

- Provide feedback and ideas

- Play games

- Win prizes


Please come by! No RSVP needed!