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GeoInquiries are a great introduction to GIS for teachers and students alike. Through them, you can get familiar with ArcGIS Online through maps that fit into your curriculum, align with standards you are already teaching to, and are even tied to textbooks. But one of the hurdles with technology is keeping up with its changing pace, and GIS is no exception. And that's good -- the evolution of ArcGIS is making it easier and more powerful. But it does mean you sometimes need to step back and relearn a tool.


The time to relearn Map Viewer (where you see maps) in ArcGIS Online is approaching. The next generation of Map Viewer is available now in beta. But don't worry! The GeoInquiries you like, and that helped you get comfortable in the GIS world in the first place? Well, we have updated some of the most popular of them to use the new Map Viewer Beta. You can use these to jump into the new Map Viewer Beta, get familiar, and start seeing what it will be like using the new version. The five GeoInquiries available for the Map Viewer Beta cover a range of the capabilities that are popular in the GeoInquiries collections. Each includes an updated map using Map Viewer Beta along with updated steps and tips that reflect the changes in the site.


To see all the BETA GeoInquiries, see:


GeoInquiry map - Earth Science - Topography and Our National HeritageGeoInquiry map - Human Geography - Distance and ScaleGeoInquiry map - Upper Elementary - Ecosystems and BiomesGeoInquiry map - US History - The Dust BowlGeoInquiry map - World History - The Crusades


The following are available for Map Viewer Beta:

  1. Earth Science: Topography and Our National Heritage (PDF) (map)
  2. Human Geography: Distance and Scale (PDF) (map)
  3. Upper Elementary: Ecosystems and Biomes (PDF) (map)
  4. US History: The Dust Bowl (PDF) (map)
  5. World History: The Crusades (PDF) (map)

(To view the exercise, click PDF above and on the page that opens, click the blue Open button.)


We want your feedback on these! Please share your thoughts by commenting here or by emailing us at


Keep in mind that Map Viewer Beta is a beta (so not a released product) and as such it is guaranteed to change and evolve more. In addition, not all the functionality of the existing Map Viewer is available in the beta yet, but it will be. We'll be keeping an eye on the beta, and updating these GeoInquiries as needed. If you notice change we missed, please let us know by emailing (or by posting a comment here). 

Join me in an online Teaching Geography in the 21st Century course through eNetLearning. 


As the COVID-19 situation makes sadly and abundantly clear, geography is more relevant now than ever before.  Furthermore, the maps and dashboards that you and millions of others have been looking at were created using powerful web based mapping tools.  You have access to these same tools as an instructor, and so do your students! 


Coffee cup and globe How should modern geography be taught?  What approaches, tools, readings, activities, and data should be used to foster engagement with the geographic inquiry process?    This course will include discussion, videos, readings, short assessments, and hands-on activities with interactive 2D and 3D maps, infographics, field surveys, storymaps, and more.   The course is 5 weeks in duration, asynchronous, offering 3 hours per week of immersion, and is aimed at primary and secondary educators who will ultimately use these techniques, tools, maps, and perspectives with their students, though the course is open to anyone.  will take you to the registration form. 


Course Outcomes:  By the end of this course, participants will be equipped to:



1)      Identify, describe, and discuss the urban, economic, environmental, land use, natural hazards, health, and population issues foundational to geography at different geographical and temporal scales.

2)      Apply geographic principles to effectively teach geography with the geographic perspective.

3)      Understand how to incorporate geospatial technologies, including dynamic web maps, charts, and data, to teach geography.

A few of the maps and investigations covered in this course.

A few of the maps and investigations (left, human impact on the planet, and right, natural hazards of all kinds) that we will cover in this course. 

Data scientists can now connect ArcGIS Insights to their existing Python and R Kernels. This will enable them to extend their data science capabilities with Spatial Analysis and Visualization, through an easy drag and drop experience.


Join this webinar on Tuesday June 2nd 9:00 AM PDT.   





More on latest resources, discussions and events related to GeoAI, join GeoAI Group on LinkedIn.

We have heard from colleagues in higher education GIS that there is an ongoing need to keep our community connected during these times of rapid change in education and technology.   Join your colleagues in higher education and the Esri education team to learn about tools, data, curricular materials, and teaching approaches during these informal brown bag chats.  Each chat will feature a short presentation about a GIS resource followed by plenty of time to ask for more information of the speaker and to chat with the community.  Each session will be recorded so you can watch it asynchronously if you wish.  Keep checking this blog to view the recordings as they will be uploaded after each brown bag session. 


GIS Education chat schedule and recordings: 


First TUESDAY of every MONTH at 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Duration:  45 minutes including Q&A.


Date: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic:  Teaching with and using the QuickCapture App.  

  • Topic lead: Ismael Chivite
  • Note: Download the QuickCapture app from the iPhone AppStore or Google Play Store before the brown bag, if you would like to follow along the demo.
  • Link to recording and use the password: 1t?p5fbh
  • Quick Capture learning resources


Date: Tuesday, July 7, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic:  Teaching with and using the Experience Builder to create customized web mapping applications


Date: Tuesday, August 4, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic:  Linking Survey123, web maps, story maps, and dashboards for effective data collection, analysis, and communication. 


Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic: ArcGIS StoryMaps Best Practices in Higher Education: Q&A with the Experts


Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT)

Topic: Turning Data into Meaningful Information: A Lesson From ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World Team


Date: Tuesday, November 3, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT) 

Topic: ArcGIS Hub for Data Sharing, Student Projects, and Community Engagement


Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2020 | 12 NOON (ET), 11 AM (CST), 10 AM (MDT), 9 AM (PDT) 

Topic: TBD

  • Topic lead: TBD

As you are aware, the 2020 Esri User Conference is moving to a virtual format.  The event will include Plenary sessions, technical workshops, user sessions, an Expo, and unique networking events. It will take place July 13-15.


Registration will be complimentary for all Esri customers with current licenses/maintenance. In addition, it will be free for all currently enrolled students and 2020 graduates, regardless of whether their institution has Education Program licenses.


This FAQ provides additional details about registration policies and the event format.


Please socialize this broadly across your campus community, as this is a great opportunity to broaden GIS knowledge and learn new skills.


Below is a list of commonly asked questions:


Q: Can really anyone at my institution attend?

A: Yes. Institutions with a current Education Program license may register an unlimited number of participants (e.g., Education Institution Agreement/Site License, Academic Department license/Lab Kit, Administrative Use Department license, Schools Bundle). This means ANYONE in your institution can attend.


Q: Do I need to provide our institution’s Customer Number to register?

A: Yes, a Customer Number is needed for full-conference access for faculty and staff.  This video walks through the registration process.


However, students can register for full-conference access without a customer number - see next question for details on student registration.  In addition, anyone can register for the Plenary session only without a Customer Number.   


Q: I am a student at an institution which does not have an Education program license or would like to register independent of my institution with Education program license.

A: Any student or 2020 graduate can attend the Virtual UC for free.  This video walks through the process, or you can follow these instructions:  1. Go to and click on Registration.  2. Click Register now under the heading Student access.  3. Log in with an Esri Account.  (If you do not have an Esri Account, create a Public Esri Account.) 4. The Virtual UC Student access rate will be selected. Please send proof of enrollment to Proof of enrollment can be a photo/screenshot of your most recent course schedule or student ID card (with a date of issue or expiration date). 5. Complete the Personal Information section. 6. Review and accept the policies and submit your registration.


 Q: Is it OK to provide my Customer Number to everyone at my institution and do I need to provide special instructions?

A: Yes, please share your Customer Number with your users across campus. Some of your users may already be linked to your Customer Number in MyEsri.  For these users, the Customer Number will automatically populate when they log into their ArcGIS account to register for the conference. 


If the Customer Number does not automatically populate, the user should enter it manually during the registration process.  The user may then be instructed to request permission to connect their ArcGIS account to the university’s customer account through MyEsri.  


The MyEsri administrator determines what permissions to grant, so providing someone with your Customer Number does not automatically provide access to all licenses or to Technical Support. 


Q: Can I get a list of users who have registered under my customer number?

A: Yes, on MyEsri there is an Events tab that shows a quick summary of who has registered under your customer number.  There also is a more detailed report available under the Reports tab.


On the Events tab, the section showing Complimentary UC Registration should be ignored for this virtual offering, since complimentary UC Registrations are unlimited.


Note: Students who register under the Student rate will not appear in these reports.


Q: Is the Education Summit taking place?

A: The Education Summit will be moved to a later date.  Details about the schedule and format will be shared as they become available.

Coronavirus has bludgeoned social patterns. Among the victims are youth clubs and camps, scrambling to give pre-teens and young-teens a new experience, parents a break from 24x7 oversight, and young adults a key transition step into responsible adulthood. How do we foster exploration, interaction, service, and creative expression? What tools are available?

GIS Club Kit

The Esri K12 team offers a free "GIS Club Kit" to any US-based group, formal or informal, needing short-term logins to ArcGIS Online for youth instruction. Kits consist of logins for adults, logins for youth, and a secure, private group inside the K12 ArcGIS Online Org. Users can create and save content, and choose to share within the group. All have access to Map Viewer including analysis functions, plus Scene Viewer, configurable web apps, Survey123, Collector, QuickCapture, StoryMaps, Dashboard, Community Analyst, and Business Analyst … more than enough to keep one enjoyably occupied, attentively learning, and creatively building for the future.


Compare App 2D+3D views of a watershed


For instruction, there is unlimited access to K12 Org public content, Mapping Hour videos, educator GeoProjects, activities and paths from TeachGIS and Learn ArcGIS, web courses and videos on Esri Training, and GeoNet, plus the ever-expanding galaxy of authored StoryMaps (both classic and current).


Project collaboration


Want kids to make friends and a 2D/3D comparison app? Do a virtual transect of the community? Analyze the local watershed? Construct a dashboard tracking fitness activities? Craft surveys and design apps? Go spelunking in the StoryMaps archive? Explore the world? Need logins with which to do it? Sign up at

As disruptive as the response to COVID-19 has been for higher education, one inspiring aspect has been the tendency of colleges and universities to turn challenges into opportunities.  Much of this has come in the form of using the grim reality of the virus to encourage research and innovation.  A quick exploration of the applications submitted to Esri's COVID-19 Resources Gallery shows that higher education institutions are a prime contributor of helpful hubs, dashboards and web applications, to say nothing of the invaluable research into treatments, vaccines and other responses underway at higher-ed affiliated institutions around the world.  Some institutions, however, have focused the GIS skills of their students, faculty and staff on the addressing the unique needs of their community as they struggle with the impacts of the virus response.  The University of California Davis is a great example.


As 2020 got underway, Karen Beardsley, a professor of GIS and director of global professional programs with UC Davis Global Affairs, was looking forward to leading a group of enthusiastic students to Bhutan for the annual GIS in the Land of the Thunder Dragon summer abroad program.  When the response to COVID-19 resulted in the summer trip being canceled, she turned her disappointment into constructive action by linking former program students with the Yolo County Food Bank.  The students are using the GIS skills they developed in Bhutan to help the food bank efficiently distribute food to individuals and families impacted by COVID-19 mitigation.  Mary Ellen Rosebrough, GIS Coordinator for Yolo County, has implemented a field operations workflow to efficiently deliver food to at-risk individuals within the county.  At-risk individuals can fill out a Survey123 survey to request food deliveries, and volunteer delivery drivers submit surveys to correct information for future distributions.  The UC Davis students (16 at last count) validate and correct both datasets to make sure that this needed food is able to reach the correct individuals.  The delivery assignments themselves are managed through Workforce for ArcGIS, so students help keep the assignments layer up-to-date as well, especially the verification of any declined assignments, as these will often result from data issues.


In addition to the student data management contributions, UC Davis faculty and staff are also getting into the act.  Dr. Beardsley is working on an ArcGIS Hub for the food bank so that all their applications and data layers can be accessed more easily, while Carlos Barahona, a systems architect in the department of Environmental Science and Policy, has taken over the task of keeping the food bank volunteer layer updated in Workforce.


The contributions of the UC Davis students and staff have been a force multiplier for the county and food bank staff, resulting in over 13,000 food deliveries to at-risk individuals who would have otherwise had to leave their homes to get groceries.  It isn’t an overstatement to say that this could have made the difference in life and death.  To find out more, check out this article on the UC Davis website.


Share Your Contributions


Has your institution leveraged its GIS resources to help solve the local challenges of the COVID-19 response?  If so, please share the details with us through this survey. The UC Davis/Yolo County Food Bank collaboration is a great example of universities taking the initiative to help meet local needs, but it is far from the only one. With that said, we'd love to build a story map that shows the great work that higher education is capable of when faced with adversity.

A new set of 10 ArcGIS Pro lessons empowers GIS practitioners, instructors, and students with essential skills to find, acquire, format, and analyze public domain spatial data within a GIS environment to make decisions.  Described in this video, this set was created for 3 reasons:  (1) to provide a set of analytical lessons that can be immediately used, (2) to update the original 10 lessons created by my colleague Jill Clark and I to provide a practical component to our Esri Press book The GIS Guide to Public Domain Dataand (3) to demonstrate how ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) lessons can be converted to Pro and to reflect upon that process.  This essay is mirrored on the Spatial Reserves data blog, and my migration reflections are below and also in this video.

Summary of Lessons:

  • Can be used in full, in part, or modified to suit your own needs.
  • 10 lessons.
  • 64 work packages.  A "work package" is a set of tasks focused on solving a specific problem.
  • 370 guided steps.
  • 29 to 42 hours of hands-on immersion.
  • Over 600 pages of content.
  • 100 skills are fostered, covering GIS tools and methods, working with data, and communication.
  • 40 data sources are used covering 85 different data layers.
  • Themes covered: climate, business, fire, floods, hurricanes, land use, sustainability, ecotourism, invasive species, oil spills, volcanoes, earthquakes, agriculture.
  • Areas covered:  The Globe, and also:  Orange County California, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, Brazil, New Zealand, the Great Lakes of the USA, Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, Iceland, the Caribbean Sea, and Kenya.
  • Aimed at university-level graduate and university or community college undergraduate student.  Some GIS experience is very helpful, though not absolutely required.  Still, my advice is not to use these lessons for students' first exposure to GIS, but rather, in an intermediate or advanced setting.  


Why use these lessons?  The lessons offer 8 unique advantages:  (1)  The lessons engage students by focusing on the geographic inquiry process, beginning with the problem to be solved, such as the optimal site for siting a new business in a metropolitan area, the rate and pattern of the spread of an invasive species, the ideal locations for growing tea in Kenya, assessing reservoir and dam vulnerability in the event of a hurricane, and more.   (2)  While those working through the lessons build solid GIS skills (building expressions, joining data layers, intersecting, projecting, georegistering imagery), skills are not limited to "learning more GIS".  Skills in data management and communication are a prominent part of these lessons.  At the end of each lesson, students are asked to communicate the results of their research in a variety of ways, including sharing to ArcGIS Online, making a short video, and creating a web mapping application such as a story map.  (3) A significant proportion of each lesson touch on accessing, formatting, projecting; i.e. developing data competencies.  Helping people make wise decisions about the data, and giving them practical skills in doing so, is one of our chief goals with these lessons and the book.  A balance is struck between engaging with enough data to provide a realistic scenario, but recognizing that "more is not always better."  (4)  The same lesson is available in an ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) format and an ArcGIS Pro format, so that those still hesitating about migrating from ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Pro can use these as an example that it is not only possible, but there are many advantages to doing so.  (5)  Questions posed in each lesson focus on thoughtful reflection about the data and the process, such as, "what difference would data at a different scale have on your analysis results?", "what was the most significant thing you learned about natural hazards in this lesson?" and "if you had more time, what data set might you have also wanted to include in your analysis?  Where do you think you could obtain such data?"  (6) These lessons have been tested and refined over several terms with students across many universities.  (7) An answer key is available for each lesson.  But in keeping with the reflective nature of these lessons, often there is no "single correct answer."  (8)  A lesson on building an ecotourism map in New Zealand allows students to use their gained skills in an independent project where they decide what themes to choose, what data to use, how to process it, and what problems to solve.  


How to access the lessons:   The ideal way to work through the lessons is in a Learn Path which bundle the readings of the book's chapters, selected blog essays, and the hands-on activities..  The Learn Paths are split into 3 parts, as follows:


Solving Problems with GIS and public domain geospatial data 1 of 3:  Learn how to find, evaluate, and analyze data to solve location-based problems through this set of 10 chapters and short essay readings, and 10 hands-on lessons:


Solving Problems with GIS and public domain geospatial data 2 of 3:


Solving Problems with GIS and public domain geospatial data 3 of 3:


The Learn Paths allow for content to be worked through in sequence, as shown below:


Learn path

Learn path

Learn path

Sample Learn Path for the public domain data activities.


You can also access the lessons by accessing this gallery in ArcGIS Online, shown below.  If you would like to modify the lessons for your own use, feel free!  This is why the lessons have been provided in a zipped bundle as PDF files here and as MS Word DOCX files hereThis video provides an overview. 


Public Domain data gallery

Appearance of content items in the public domain data activities and reading gallery.  The gallery includes lessons, data, readings, and the answer keys. 


While the intent is for learners to actually download or stream the data from the original sources as an important part of the learning experience, the data for each lesson in zip file format are also included, in this ArcGIS Online gallery.  The reason the data is provided is because we recognize that sometimes, bandwidth is limited and/or the data portals are slow, change, or are temporarily offline. 


Titles of the 10 Lessons:   See below.  For more information, see the detailed metadata for the lessons here
Lesson 1: Assessing impacts of climate change on coasts, ecoregions, and population globally.  
Lesson 2: Siting an internet café in Orange County, California.  
Lesson 3: Siting a fire tower in the Loess Hills, Nebraska.  
Lesson 4: Analyzing floods and floodplains along the Front Range, Colorado.  
Lesson 5: Assessing potential hurricane hazards in Texas.  
Lesson 6: Analyzing land use and sustainability in Brazil.  
Lesson 7: Creating a map for an ecotourism company in New Zealand.  

Lesson 8: Assessing citizen science portals and analyzing data about invasive species.  
Lesson 9: Investigating 3 hazards: Gulf oil spill, Eyjafjallajokull volcano, and Haiti earthquake.
Lesson 10: Selecting the most suitable locations for tea cultivation in Kenya.   



The intent of the lessons was that they were to be used in conjunction with reading the book.  Therefore, the contents of the book have also been placed online.  The book chapters are in this gallery. The book not only discusses sources and types of spatial data, but also issues such as assessing data quality, open data access, spatial law, the fee vs. free debate, data and national security, the efficacy of spatial data infrastructures, and the impact of cloud computing and the emergence of GIS as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.


Since the book was published, ongoing social and technological innovations and issues continue to change how data users and data providers work with geospatial information to help address a diverse range of social, economic and environmental needs.  Therefore, we established the Spatial Reserves blog to promote a current, ongoing dialogue with data users and providers and post frequent assessments of new tools, data portals, books and articles, curriculum, and issues surrounding spatial data.  Recent entries include "Imagery--It is what it is--well, not always.", "Be a wise consumer of fun posts, too", "The Application for Extracting and Exploring Analysis Ready Samples (AppEEARS)", reflections on a new article about the geospatial data fabric, facial recognition technology, and a list of the top 12 sites for Landsat data.  A selection of these blog essays are listed in the book's resources page at Esri Press.


Reflections on Migrating Lessons from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro.  Readers of the GeoNet education blog are familiar with the rapid change of the field of geospatial technologies, coupled with rapidly changing educational and workplace needs.  I contend that given these changes, the content and skills we must teach, and the means by which we teach, must also change. Given the wide variety of tutorials and help files containing graphics and videos, networks and the tools to collaborate, ask questions, and share ideas, students, faculty, and GIS professionals have an amazing variety of learning options at their fingertips.  


Thus, I do not believe we need to be focused on tool-based approaches, such as how to geocode, how to georegister, and so on, but rather, how to solve problems using GIS.  (For a related discussion, see David DiBiase's Stop Teaching GIS essay).  We need to help students "learn how to learn" whether in GIS (and, I contend, in any other field), emulating the kind of resource gathering, networking, and problem solving that they will assuredly use in the workplace.  Some might argue that writing and asking students to go through lessons such as the 10 I describe above is no longer needed.  In my experience in teaching for over 25 years at the university level, I still find that this style of lesson still has a place in learning, as students using these go through an entire workflow of geographic inquiry, including asking geographic questions, gathering data, analyzing data, making decisions, making assessments, and communicating the results of their research.  Another reason why I created the above lessons is so that you can place each lesson side-by-side to compare the ArcMap version and the ArcGIS Pro version. 


My observations after creating ArcGIS Pro versions of each of the ArcMap lessons are as follows:

  1. I have used these lessons in several different universities, including at the University of Denver, and always pose a survey question about ArcGIS Pro at the end of the course.  In 95% of the responses, students have stated that they found ArcGIS Pro to be easier to learn from than ArcMap, more intuitive, and more powerful.  Several students each term tell me that the use of Pro was one of their primary reasons for taking the course, because their employer asked them to learn it.  And moving forward into the 2020s, Pro will see further adoption and more importantly, further evolution. Every time it evolves, it becomes more powerful and easier to use at the same time. 
  2. As an instructor, you have a choice of either creating your own lessons or using existing lessons.  There are no shortage of existing lessons, ranging from the ArcGIS Learn library to shared higher education resources (such as GeoTech Center and iGETT), Esri and university MOOCs, and many other resources.  Many of us, however, became instructors because we enjoy creating and customizing curriculum for specific courses and programs.  If you are keen on migrating some of your existing ArcMap lessons to ArcGIS Pro, I did it, and so can you.  Yes, it will take some time, but I find migrations (migrations is plural here, as I have lived through many such software migrations!) are like when you get rid of things while moving your own residence--it is a good opportunity to purge old content and make things even better.  Perhaps you can get a graduate student to assist you in this effort!
  3. I found that my ArcGIS Pro lessons were shorter than the ArcMap lessons for several reasons.  The first reason is that the workflows in ArcGIS Pro are so much more logical and straightforward than in ArcMap.  In ArcMap, for example, when you needed to georegister an unprojected historical map or aerial photo, you are cast into a zone that sometimes left students wondering, "what step do I do first?" whereas with ArcGIS Pro, you are placed into wizard-driven "Step 1--do this, make these choices, satisfied?  If not, here are some adjustments you can make.  OK - on to Step 2..."  Ditto for hundreds of other tools and processes:  These are much easier to follow and learn from using ArcGIS Pro. The second reason is you don't need to screen shot everything any longer, and in fact, I implore you to please not screen shot very much, because (1) There are many good existing resources for use if a student gets stuck on a certain section.  In the past, I admit that all of us did have to create our own graphics and screenshots because these were by and large all the students could use as instructional resources, but no longer!  (2) Students, being the resourceful people they are, will not read your precious screen shots very much if at all.  They know there are other resources and will find them if they have difficulty.  Of course you can provide guidance as to where these resources are, but just like anything else these days that people want to learn, such as fixing a faucet or playing the ukulele, there is a video, a graphic, a tutorial, on everything from geocoding to writing Arcade expressions and more.  (3) If you do screen shot to excess and make your lessons consequently long, you will remain in a continuous cycle of having to update and curate your lessons.  Please, don't do this!  Rather, spend less time updating curriculum, and that new-found time creating new curricular ideas, teaching techniques, and furthering your own research.



Metadata for Public Domain Data Lessons

Metadata for Public Domain Data lessons.  I look forward to your comments below.

Facing uncertainty, would we know to grab opportunity? When she was in eighth grade, Roxana Ayala had no idea that her choice of high school would lead her to the White House before high school graduation, and a job in Washington DC after college. The hour-each-way between her home in Watts and her school in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles helped her perceive and appreciate nuances between communities. Her teachers at the Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy of Roosevelt High School offered challenges, expectations, and encouragement that helped develop skills and attitudes that opened up more opportunities. And, time after time, Ayala stepped up.


She was in the first cohort of MSTMA students introduced to GIS as part of their 11th grade research project. Two teachers led 90 students into deep research on the community, with GIS illuminating patterns and relationships. In just a few weeks, on just a few computers, they presented work impressive enough to earn a place on stage at the 2013 Esri Conference. Ayala was the lead-off speaker.


Ayala presenting at Esri 2013 User Conference

Click image to watch the presentation at Esri 2013 User Conference; start at 7:00


A year later, Esri President Jack Dangermond decided to join President Obama's ConnectED Initiative and give software to any school in the US that asked. Esri needed two accomplished students to represent the dream. Ayala and a student from Arlington, VA, prepared for uncertainty, stood on the risers under the blazing lights behind the President, and shook hands with him at the close. "I can still describe it like it was yesterday, it's an experience that's impossible to forget," she mused.


Ayala shakes hands with President Obama in 2014


What do you do with dreams, skills, and passions for trees, justice, equity, and action, but no blazed trail? Go to college and be on the lookout for opportunity. Ayala headed to University of California Irvine and focused on conservation, working with the US Forest Service, state parks, and private institutions on restoration projects across the country. But, nearing her diploma and finding herself cleaning and labeling old plants to digitize a collection, it wasn't enough. She sought more, the chance to be interdisciplinary, to boost equity, to make an impact for people. A conversation led her to investigate a fellowship, which led to a job, in Washington DC.


ACEEE staff page for Ayala


The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy sought someone to help them conduct research and outreach on energy efficient policies and programs that target historically marginalized populations, which include but are not limited to low income communities and communities of color. "There's an analysis of 'energy burden' among 25 metro cities in the US underway. A household needing to spend more than 6% of their household income on energy costs are experiencing high energy burdens, and generally low-income and communities of color often experience higher energy burden than any other households," Ayala noted during our interview, from her apartment, right as Coronavirus-related shutdowns had swept across the country. "Now, with the pandemic, and so many people out of work, fortunately, many utilities have placed moratoriums on disconnections, but a big concern once it ends is that many households may experience significant challenges to pay off their bills which may ultimately put them at risk of service disconnections."


Did she feel prepared for this job? Ayala chuckled. "I was used to being out in the field for hours a day. I'm picking up the policy part on the job, learning the acronyms and policies. It's been almost a year and I feel like I'm just scratching the surface. There's a lot of learning, a lot of reading. But, off work, I find myself critically thinking of these issues as they relate to energy. I don't get to do GIS as part of my work right now, but it's definitely there in how I look at things."


So, what about high school -- did using GIS and doing the research project prepare you for this? "Absolutely. Doing complex, meaningful research at a young age, building perspectives, looking at data, integrating disciplines, doing presentations, it all empowered me, made college feel easier. And GIS … having a skill that employers are looking for … employers are impressed when I say I've been using GIS since high school. Having these opportunities definitely affected my trajectory, helped me get where I am right now. I love the work I do … I'll keep doing things related to environmental justice, specifically work that seeks to create equitable, low-carbon cities … making a difference … just like my teachers, Ms.Ramirez and Ms.Im, who planted the seeds for radical change and are still wonderful mentors."


From Watts to Washington is a substantial journey. Would that every student could have teachers so willing to help students get started in the right direction.

Integrating Python libraries has never been easier with ArcGIS Notebooks, which provides a Jupyter notebook experience optimized for spatial analysis. ArcGIS Notebooks provides an easy way to combine Python libraries from ArcGIS API for Python, ArcPy, and open-source Python libraries in a single environment, reducing time spent managing dependencies and increasing


Visit this page to request access to the recorded webinar How to Teach with ArcGIS Notebooks in higher education. Attached you'll find the webinar presentation slides.


Topics covered in the webinar:

  • Introducing ArcGIS Notebooks
  • Using Notebooks in ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS Enterprise
  • Best practices, useful resources, and a case study


You'll hear from these presenters:

  • Gregory Brunner - Scientist at Esri and Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University
  • Shannon Kalisky - Product Manager, Analytics and Data Science, Esri
  • Canserina Kurnia - Solution Engineer, Higher Education, Esri


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Interested in how GIS can be used in an agriculture CTE program? Check out this new Learn path: GIS for agriculture CTE programs | Learn ArcGIS 


In under an hour, you (and the folks you share it with!) will understand the role of GIS in agriculture CTE and know the opportunities GIS opens for CTE students in the career cluster for agriculture, food, and natural resources.


 Person with a device studying plants in a field

Teaching and learning about demographics and population change in an effective, engaging manner is enriched and enlivened through the use of web mapping tools and spatial data. These tools, enabled by the advent of cloud-based geographic information systems (GIS) technology, bring problem solving, critical thinking, and spatial analysis to every classroom instructor and student (Kerski 2003; Jo, Hong, and Verma 2016).  Several developments make this the ideal time for educators to embrace these tools and data sets for teaching these topics. First, population patterns change over space and time, providing the perfect data and themes for investigation using 2D and 3D maps in a GIS environment. Second, modern GIS is a platform that enables maps and applications to be saved, shared, and embedded into presentations and multimedia, forming a collaborative learning environment. As analytical and cartographic tools have migrated to the web, they can be used on any device at any time using only a standard web browser (Manson et al. 2013). Third, the open data movement places an array of rich, varied demographic data sets from the local to global scales in the hands of educators and students. These data include those from the U.S. Census Bureau and other national statistics agencies. Fourth, GIS was created to be a tool to investigate real-world issues, and therefore teaching with GIS is conducive to a multidisciplinary, problem-solving learning environment using real data (Milson and Kerski 2012).


Why teach about population change, demographics, and lifestyles?   These topics are multi-scale, multi-disciplinary, connected to content standards, and relevant to 21st Century issues.  They are interesting, changing over space, time, and scale.  They are tied to Problem-Based Learning (PBL), and are aligned with an inquiry-driven approach ("What if we change the classification method?  Change the location?  Add a variable?").  Teaching these topics with GIS offers the opportunity for fieldwork and collaboration, fostering skills in media fluency, scale, and systems thinking.  On the research side, population's dynamic nature and its impact on culture, land use, and the environment make it a continually fascinating and important area of research.  On the campus administration side, demographics affect alumni networks, future online and on-campus student number and background, funding sources, and much more. 


Here, I describe 10 activities that can be used to teach about population, population change, demographics, and lifestyles.   Each can be used in a variety of different courses including those in GIS, environmental science, geography, history, and even business and sociology as single activities or multi-day activities.  These 10 activities all use the ArcGIS platform, from Esri, including ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Insights, and Business Analyst Web. The advantage of the  ArcGIS platform is that it includes (1) spatial data; (2) maps; (3) analysis, classification, symbology, and measurement tools; (4) field apps; (5) web mapping applications; (6) a community of users.  Over 1 billion maps are accessed daily in this platform serving millions of data users.  


(1)  Examining global patterns using ArcGIS Online.  The Living Atlas of the World is a curated and growing body of content covering a multitude of scales. Population growth, ethnicity, density, cities, and other themes can be quickly accessed, combined with other layers, queried, and used in presentations. Many of the layers contain data that extends back in time; others forecast into the future.  Using this web map of a selected set of variables from the Living Atlas opens the door to investigating population growth rate, life expectancy, birth rate, and mobile phones and land lines for world countries.  You might start by showing a more easily understood variable such as total population or population density.  You might introduce the topic of population by showing these videos of an area with low population density vs. one with a high population density.  Life expectancy can be analyzed over time, by opening the data table and by using the time animation slider bar.  I almost always map the Human Development Index (HDI) over time, because it is an index that includes variables about health and education, fostering fruitful, interdisciplinary discussions.  For additional analysis, sign in to your ArcGIS Online account, save the maps in your organization, change the symbology or variables mapped, and add other layers from your own tables, the Living Atlas, or from ArcGIS Online.

Mapping population data.

Left:  Comparing demographic variables by country using ArcGIS Online.  Note slider bar that provides temporal analysis capability.   Right:  Mapping Human Development Index (HDI) by country over time. 


(2)  Sub-country investigations.  Provinces, neighborhoods, and other administrative and political areas in many countries can be investigated.  Start by browsing for population in the Living Atlas or searching for open data hub sites.  For example, investigate purchasing power and other characteristics of the population and of businesses in Germany with this interactive map and set of data, from Germany's 16 states to the neighborhood level.  With this and other premium content in the Living Atlas, you will need to sign in to ArcGIS Online with your ArcGIS Online organizational subscription to access the map and data. 


Mapping total births by neighborhood in Hamburg Germany clearly shows the differences between those without children in the city center (partially encircled by the ring road) and southeast along the Elbe River versus neighborhoods to the northeast and northwest of the city center. 


(3)  US Census demographics investigations.  Start your US Census data investigation with the Living Atlas content authored by the Esri demographics team.  At the time of this writing, 78 layers exist covering 89 different American Community Survey tables, each with dozens of field names, covering age, employment, income, housing, insurance, education, veterans status, and even internet connectivity.  This already vast array of data will continue to grow as 2020 Decennial Census data becomes available.  Use the phrase “current year ACS” to quickly find these layers. You can find these layers by searching the Living Atlas website, or directly within your map by using Add > search the Living Atlas. You can also find the layers within this ArcGIS group that categorizes the layers by topic.   The ACS data support field descriptions, have improved boundaries over the boundaries on, and are accessible throughout the ArcGIS platform, which means you can use it in ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, Insights, and even in field apps such as Explorer.   I was recently working with faculty from the University of Arizona, for example, and we investigated one of these layers, the percent of households in Tucson with no internet access (below).  For further information, see these guidelines on how to quickly make an ACS map.


Data about internet access.

The ACS data on percent of households in Tucson with no internet access mapped in Tucson shows some sharp boundaries.


To access US Census data, you can certainly still use the workflow that was standard fare in most GIS courses and workflows for years:  Access, download and unzip the boundary files that you need, such as block groups, census tracts, and county boundaries.  Access a different node on the site, download and unzip the demographic data that you need.  In ArcGIS Pro, join the demographic data to the appropriate "bounding polygons" and save to a new layer.  Rename field names from "P01" names to field names that can be more readily understood.  Then, symbolize and analyze the data.  While this workflow teaches key skills, many steps are required to bring the data to the point at which it can be analyzed.  I am convinced that this workflow is no longer completely necessary, as the Living Atlas workflow suggests. 


(4)  Mapping and filtering census data at different scales.  Using the ArcGIS Online map viewer, you can investigate the relationship between such variables as median age and median income, explore consumer and other behaviors, study the patterns of diversity, and examine how many of those variables change over time.  Start with the popular demographics web map, and symbolize on a variable of interest.  More data is not always better; hence, the filter tool can be very useful to reveal patterns. Below, I filter on the counties where the average household size is 2.75 and above. 


Census map of counties with at least 2.75 people per household.

Census map of counties with at least 2.75 people per household.  Note the suburban areas around Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington DC, some Native American-predominant counties in South Dakota and Arizona, and counties in Utah, Texas, and California that appear for a variety of reasons. 


The above layer contains quite a bit of attribute data and layers.  If you prefer to begin with a simpler map, use this map that contains a smaller number of layers.  Consider using the map to ask questions such as, "Where is the median age lower than the surrounding areas, and which factor(s) are pulling down the median age (certain types of employment, a military base, a university, a prison)?  Where does the median income increase as the median age increase, and where does that trend break down, and why?  How does your community compare to others of the same population, and what are some reasons for the differences?   


(5) Mapping past change and future projections.  How has population changed in the past, and what are the projected trends into the future?  To investigate these questions, use this map containing 2018 data and projections to 2023.  After I opened this map, I changed the scale to the zip code level, and changed the style to reflect changes in 2018 median household income compared to that projected in 2023, as shown below.

 Population change map.


Comparing household growth rate 2010-2018 to 2018-2022 by zip code in southern Kansas, showing areas that have experienced high growth and will continue to do so, where growth will decelerate in the future, where growth will accelerate in the future, and where growth has been slow and will continue to be slow.  This uses the relationship type of symbology. 


(6) Deeper analysis in ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Insights.   All of the data described in these guidelines can be brought to ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Insights.  The primary reasons to consider teaching and conducting research with census data in ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Insights are to teach additional GIS skills, and to take advantage of the many analytical tools that exist in these products.  ArcGIS Pro has the most tools of any ArcGIS product, including a bridge to the R statistical package and spatial statistics functions such as Build Balanced Zones, Spatial Autocorrelation (Global Moran's I), Cluster and Outlier Analysis (Anselin Local Moran's I), Hot Spot Analysis (Getis-Ord Gi*), and Colocation Analysis.  ArcGIS Insights has the advantage of unique visualizations for data such as chord diagrams.  In the example below, I brought in the popular demographics layer into an ArcGIS Pro project and am now using the Enrich tool to add some behavioral data that was not in the original popular demographics data layer. 


Analyzing census data in ArcGIS Pro.

Analyzing census data within ArcGIS Pro, here showing the patterns of people who "bought a travel book in the last 12 months" in Lincoln, Nebraska, after running the Enrich tool. In my case I am using this in a lesson that invites students to consider an optimal location for a new bookstore and coffee shop.


(7)  Demographic and lifestyle investigation using Business Analyst Web.   Business Analyst Web, an Esri Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) toolset, is also extremely useful for population analysis primarily because of its (1) demographic data; (2) lifestyle and consumer behavior data; (3) business location data; (4) mapping and spatial analysis tools; and (5) ability to create customized demographic reports and infographics.  Its data covers multiple countries at multiple levels of geography.  The lifestyle and consumer behavior data includes hundreds of variables, ranging from pet ownership to health insurance coverage, from commuting patterns to work and leisure activities, tapestry segmentation, and much more.  It also includes millions of business locations, sales volume, and other data, literally from A to Z - automotive repair shops to zoos.  Everything you need to conduct analysis with rich sets of data are at your fingertips in Business Analyst Web, but it is also a part of the ArcGIS platform, so you can import and export maps and layers from it to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro.  


Business Analyst Web investigation

Comparing county population to the locations of two convenience store chains--Allsup's (blue points) and Casey's (red points).   This activity is available here

(8) Visualizing and understanding migration over space and time in 3D.  Web mapping applications focused on population data abound.  For example, one set of storymaps that can be used to analyze global population and its influence on urbanization, agriculture, and other aspects of our world is the Age of the Anthropocene.  Another set of apps is the "cool maps" gallery, and one map in the gallery is a 2D and 3D visualization of incoming and outgoing migration for every country in the world over 4 different time periods.  This visualization presents estimates of the number of international migrants by destination and origin, using Trends in International Migrant Stock data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Use this visualization to compare one country's change over time in terms of numbers, and in terms of where migrants travel from and to.  For example, you can visualize the increase in Australia's immigration from South Asia and East Asia relative to its traditional immigration from western Europe, and the increase in the absolute numbers of migrants as well.   The same map can be used to investigate the immigration to the UAE to support the infrastructure development there, as well as the continuing challenges facing Somalia and the resulting out-migration from there.  Ask students:  Which patterns did you expect to see, and which were surprising to you?  Why? 

Migration map.

  Visualizing incoming migration to the UAE across space and time with the Global Migration Map.


(9)  Comparing demographic patterns across 100 global cities.   The Urban Observatory is a mapping and visualization tool that allows for over 100 cities around the world to be compared across more than 50 themes.  Created by Richard Saul Wurman (founder of TED), RadicalMedia, and Esri, it is an easy-to-use, powerful teaching tool. Themes include work (such as zoning), movement (such as roads, transportation noise, airports, and traffic), people (such as population density and growth), public (such as the ParkScore and health resources), and systems (such as current temperature and flood zones).   Click on "Launch App" to compare cities and themes of your choice.  These will be displayed in three side-by-side maps that are interactive and at the same scale.  Because some variables are from real-time feeds, you can use the Urban Observatory to teach about commuting, time zones, and seasons.   How does the site and the physical geography of each city affect population density? Which of the urban geography models apply to each of these cities? I use the data service's senior population theme frequently in conjunction with population pyramids to compare Tokyo to Accra, for example.  Why is the senior population for Tokyo so much higher than for Accra or Lagos?  If you find the Urban Observatory data fascinating, and want to dig deeper with additional data, see my colleague Jennifer Bell's published layers in ArcGIS Online.  

Urban Observatory.

Comparing senior population in Accra, Lagos, and Tokyo using the Urban Observatory.


(10)  Additional web mapping applications.  Other population web mapping applications that I frequently use while teaching include the following.  For more detail about these tools, see this ArcWatch article and this GeoNet essay. 


A new story map on the theme "Where are people moving?   I particularly like investigating the county-by-county migration map toward the end of this story map.


The NASA SEDAC CIESIN Global Population Estimation Web Mapping Application allows for population pyramids and other information to be queried for any user-defined area on the planet, allowing regions to be easily compared.  One of my favorite parts is its use of population pyramids, in my opinion one of the best tools ever invented to teach and learn about demographics. 


State to state inflow and outflow migration, mapped with the distributed flow lines tool in ArcGIS Pro.  Why do Texans tend to move to other warm states?  Why do people who move out of North Dakota tend to move to Minnesota?  Popup graphics allow exploration for how the flow changes over time.   There are even selected county inflow and outflow maps, too!   The US Census Bureau flow mapper shows county-by-county in and out migration in a queryable map format.  The state-by-state migration map and set of charts from the New York Times shows migration in yet a different cartographic style, also shown here.  


I also make frequent use of the Esri Wayback imagery and the Esri USGS historical topographic map viewer to examine how urban and rural areas have changed (or not changed, as the case may be) over time.  The Wayback immagery shows high-resolution satellite imagery for the past 6 years, globally.  The Esri USGS map viewer shows topographic maps for the past 80 years for the USA.  I also ask students to use the Landsat Lens web mapping application to examine changes from human impact around the world using 20 years worth of Landsat image scenes, starting with Abu Dhabi with stops at the Aral Sea, Shanghai, Las Vegas, the Arabian Desert, and elsewhere.  I also frequently ask students to make swipe maps with 2 different time periods of an area using the Landsat Explorer web mapping application.  Maps with rich and deep content are sometimes tied to lessons, such as this map showing counties in farms, rainfall, and population change during the 1930s Dust Bowl, part of the Geoinquiries library of lessons


Images from selected population change and demographic tools. Graphic showing selected additional useful population analysis tools.  Clockwise from upper left, CIESIN, US Census Flow Mapper, ArcGIS Online Geoinquiries Dust Bowl, USGS Esri historical topographic map viewer, and state inflow and outflow migration maps and data. 


Now start exploring these data sets, methods, and tools, and I look forward to reading your comments.



Jo, I., J. E. Hong, and K. Verma. 2016. Facilitating spatial thinking in world geography using web-based GIS.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education 40 (3): 442–459.


Kerski, J. J. 2003. The implementation and effectiveness of GIS in secondary education. Journal of Geography 102 (3): 128–137.


Manson, S., J. Shannon, S. Eria, L. Kne, K. ****, S. Nelson, L. Batra, D. Bonsal, M. Kernik, J. Immich, and L. Matson. 2013. Resource needs and pedagogical value of web mapping for spatial thinking. Journal of Geography 113 (1): 1–11.


Milson, A., and J. Kerski. 2012. Around the world with geospatial technologies. Social Education 76 (2): 105–108.


You might not always have an internet connection when collecting data in the field. Now, not only can you collect data without one in Survey123, but you can also still see the map! How? By taking maps offline with you in Survey123 through ArcGIS Online.


It takes a few steps and a few tools, but with Survey123, Survey123 Connect, and ArcGIS Online you can get out in the field and see the maps as you place your data.


The four apps used to take a map offline with Survey123.


Head over to the story map An offline map in Survey123 for details and videos showing you how. And reach out here or by emailing with any questions you have along the way.



While Survey123 supports collecting data offline, for a long time we've recommended to K-12 educators that they use a combination of Collector and Survey123 if they need to see their map offline. Not any more! While previously you had to use a separate desktop product (like ArcGIS Pro) to create maps to take offline in Survey123, now you can create them in ArcGIS Online.

Digital Twins are important for efficient local government operations, urban planning and design, transportation, and more. Creation and maintenance of Digital Twin via lidar is expensive and requires constant inflow of human resources and funds to maintain.


In this webinar, we are going to look into the automation of high-fidelity object extraction from lidar point clouds, which allow for faster content acquisition at higher speed and much lower costs.


Topic:  AI for Lidar Feature Extraction

Date: Tuesday, May 5th , 2020

Time: 9:00 – 10:00 am PDT

Link to Registration


Topics we’ll be covering:

  • ArcGIS capabilities for lidar processing
  • Preparing training data for model training
  • Training models using arcgis.learn PointCNN
  • Model training using PointNet
  • Post-processing using ArcGIS machine learning
  • Use-cases & demos from different industries
  • Resources Space is limited so please register early.


Join GeoAI group on LinkedIn,  the hub for discussions, resources, news and virtual events related to the topic


Link to recording for previous webinar:

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