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Of all the remarkable collections of maps and apps Esri offers for exploration, one of my faves for a teacher is the Policy Maps collection. (See Fun with GIS 259 for background.) Not just a grab bag of maps, it is an environment in which users can study deeply, discover quickly, and share widely, exploring key patterns in their community, and do it all without login. Most maps have scale-dependent data and rich info waiting to be exposed by clicking on an area.


Wanting to create a resource for teachers in various conditions to use, I assembled a set of 28 from the hundreds available. Educators can explore, re-center to their region, subset, and distribute to their students via shortURL or email, all in under 10 minutes, giving students hours of investigation and discovery.


Policy Maps

In a single click, you have those 28 maps at your fingertips, without login (navigate using the panel at left or "<" and ">" arrows at top right). In seconds, you can recenter the map to your location in the 50 states, then export a different shortURL (for Twitter) or full email with contents and link.


My set centered on Minneapolis and St.Paul. Go to for this pre-built sequence:

  1. What is the most common race/ethnicity?
  2. Race/Ethnicity with Lowest Median Income
  3. How diverse is the US?
  4. What is the predominant income range in the US?
  5. How expensive are living costs in your area?
  6. Households who spend more than 30 percent of income on housing
  7. Emergency Expense Risk Index
  8. Ratio of People Living Above vs. Below the Poverty Line
  9. Children in Poverty
  10. Where are disconnected youth?
  11. Are Youth Learning, Earning, Both, or Neither?
  12. Where are young adults living with their parents?
  13. Where are the people who started college but did not finish?
  14. Population 25+ with Bachelor's Degree or Higher Education Level (ACS)
  15. People in Households with No Internet Access
  16. Where are households using a Smartphone as their only computing device?
  17. Where are the most socially vulnerable populations in the U.S.?
  18. Where are those aged 65 and older?
  19. Where are adults with limited English ability?
  20. Unemployment in the United States in 2018
  21. Where do People Have Medicaid/Means-Tested Healthcare?
  22. Where are the Uninsured?
  23. Females with Disabled Status
  24. Males with Disabled Status
  25. Supermarket Access Map
  26. Job Accessibility by Walking and Transit (selected cities)
  27. Where are the Households with No Vehicle Available?
  28. Where didn't people self-respond to the 2020 Census?


How could you teach with your version of this? Here are some ideas:

  • Pick any 4 maps. Summarize some key patterns noticed. What highs and lows are visible? Are there factors which seem to vary directly or inversely?
  • Challenge students to create their own subset (e.g. 5, which could include maps I did not choose) that highlight salient features of your region relating to a current issue.
  • Ask students to explore a distant target community of note (regionally or nationally) and highlight differences between your home and the target.
  • Explore local discussions about equity and how the data does or doesn't match what is being described publicly.
  • Have students take on the roles of residents, mayor, or community planner, and identify some targets to explore more deeply, and even some strategies for building solutions.


If a picture paints a thousand words, a single map tells volumes of stories, and the combinations of content have limitless potential, for uncovering the impact of yesterday's events and policies, or discovering ways to build a better world today. Where will you explore?

I am frequently asked by the education community, "How can GIS be used to create quizzes that are interesting, that foster spatial thinking, that provide benefits to students and instructors?"


Let me begin by stating that I am especially keen on using quizzes if their primary benefit is to help students learn and provide students with a way to reflect upon their own progress.  I am less keen on quizzes that only benefit the instructor.  Research in a wide variety of disciplines from physiology to geography affirms the value of quizzes that enhance student learning as the objective.


The kind of teaching and learning that working with GIS fosters is best measured, I believe, by such means as (1) evaluating a portfolio of student work, which could include story maps, reports, and other documents that they assemble into a story map collection or other set of digital documents; (2) evaluating student asynchronous or synchronous presentations using a variety of media in a face-to-face or online course environment, where the student presentations may include you, the instructor, but also their peers, and even other students in a “colloquium” type of session; (3) map-based assessments that may or not include a rubric (such as these examples from the University of Minnesota).  


That said, quizzes still have their place in education.  Research affirms the value of quizzes that use interactive and engaging multimedia, which is exactly what GIS offers.  With some creative thinking, GIS tools and spatial data can be effectively used to create and administer quizzes.  These quizzes can be used in teaching about GIS, such as in a GIS, remote sensing, or GI Science course, or in teaching with GIS, in geography, sociology, environmental studies, history, mathematics, or other disciplines.  You can either screen shot specific map content and use those shots in your Learning Management System, PDF, PowerPoint, or other means, or you can create them in an interactive mode that takes advantage of web GIS technology such as ArcGIS Online.  In this essay, I provide examples of both.  I welcome your comments and look forward to seeing what you have created.


1.  Quizzes About Content and Skills.  The attached "week 3 quiz" document is an example of the type of quiz that I have found most effective over the years in instruction. In multi-week courses, I give one of these types of quizzes at the end of each week.  I have found such quizzes effective because (1) they are short, (2) they include a few questions on skills (GIS, presentation, data), a few questions on content (in this case, it is part of a cartography and geo-visualization course, so the content includes color theory, classification methods, and the like), and 1 question on "what was the most significant thing you learned this week, and why?", and (3) they are designed so that the student can focus on the important elements of that week and reflect on their own learning and progress. 

2.  Landforms Quiz using Esri Base Maps.
Let's a traditional quiz that is based on a resource that I and other earth science instructors used for decades, the Set of 100 Topographic Map Features.  See attached for this quiz.  Using the USA Topo maps layer in ArcGIS Online, which are derived from USGS topographic maps, you can capture any landforms that you wish to quiz students on.  See the attached matching exercise focused on some really fascinating landforms—tombolos, karst, drumlins, and more.   Another wonderful aspect about the topographic maps layer is that you have access to three scales:  1:24,000-scale, 1:100,000-scale, and 1:250,000-scale.  A natural extension of this activity is to use the 3D scene viewer in ArcGIS Online as you give a geomorphology quiz.  


3.  Imagery. Imagery captivates and inspires, and makes excellent basemaps from which you can create quizzes about issues, current events, phenomena, places, past processes, and current processes active on the landscape.   These include hurricanes, volcanism, fluvial processes, agricultural expansion, glacial retreat, urbanization and urban forms, coastal and soil erosion, and much more.  The ArcGIS platform, including the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, gives you access to a wide variety of imagery—UAV, Lidar, Sentinel-2, Landsat, high resolution current and historical visible imagery, and much more. 


4.  Pattern Recognition. Another type of quiz is to ask students to identify the pattern where they have to make a hypothesis of the variable that is being mapped.  I created the following choro-quiz (choropleth quiz) as an example:    Given the vast number of maps in ArcGIS Online, including, again, the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, there will be no shortage of maps you can use, for your country or for the world.  You can start with world countries and then include some choropleth maps on administrative units (states, provinces, regions) within your own country.  To make the quiz more challenging, consider zooming to your own city and mapping certain variables at the census tract, enumeration district, block group, or other statistical area appropriate for your part of the world.  Business Analyst Web, with its hundreds of variables including fascinating data on consumer behavior, makes another excellent source for such a quiz.  See if you can identify the variable among the three choices given in each; for example, the quiz begins with this question:The choro-quiz.

Part of the choro-quiz.  Do you know what the answer is?


5.  Using the ArcGIS Online Presentation Mode. ArcGIS Online includes a presentation mode that is simple and effective at creating quizzes.  In a matter of minutes, you can create your own, using your own maps, or maps already in ArcGIS Online, with text for the clues and answers.  Here are several examples that I created that I hope provide some ideas:  Name That Place includes natural places (such as famous waterfalls) and human-built places (such as cities with famous river and street patterns).   I created another quiz using this presentation mode focused on world islands, as well as this one focused on fun and interesting facts about 10 state capitals in the USA.    In each of them, I provide the answers.  A variation on this theme is my presentation quiz entitled Weird Earth, and as the name implies, it is designed to test student knowledge as well as foster curiosity about our amazing planet. Again, answers are provided.Quiz world islands

Part of the World Islands quiz, using the ArcGIS presentation mode.


6.  Use Multimedia! Today’s modern ArcGIS platform can incorporate multimedia, so don’t feel confined to maps and images only.  For example, my sounds of Planet Earth includes a quiz on 100 sounds, from pounding waves to crunching leaves, from ancient marketplaces to the sounds of mass transit, here.  You could effectively use video, or images, as well!

Quiz sounds around the world.

Part of the 100 Sounds of Planet Earth story map.


7.  Photographs Tied To Maps. From time to time I create and use photographs tied to maps for quizzes to foster spatial thinking and considerations about landforms, vegetation, climate, and human impact, such as this Colorado Geography Quiz.    I embedded this quiz inside a story map.  Here is a similar one I created for a presentation I gave in California.  And another one with 8 points and photographs in Wyoming.


Quiz Wyoming

Part of a quiz asking participants to match the correct-photo to the correct location, in Wyoming, as part of a story map.


I occasionally use Street View images for these types of quizzes, asking students to identify the place based on what they can observe on the physical and cultural landscape.  However, I don’t have permission from Google for the images yet, and if I developed additional ones similar to this, I would seek permission or use Mapillary or my own images for the source.


8. The Platform Approach.  When you are using ArcGIS, you are using a platform.  Combine elements of that platform for some very creative quizzes.  As one example, you could create and use a Survey123 as a quiz, and you can embed that quiz inside a story map.  This is what the Port of Tacoma did for GIS Day 2018 – Survey, here.    My colleague Tom Baker used Survey123 and Google Forms for these quizzes, and also for this one on time zones, which are a part of a discussion on programmed instruction.   Along these lines, here is one of my own Google forms to test geography about coordinates and GIS

Quiz ports of the world.

A section of the Port of Tacoma’s quiz about famous ports of the world, with a survey embedded inside a story map.


9.  Treasure Hunts. As another example, with the help of the story maps team, I created a quiz on the pioneers of Geography and GIS, for GIS Day and beyond.  I provide the quiz here to spark ideas, but keep in mind that this was a custom application and is not replicable in exactly this same way.  Each question focuses on a geography or GIS pioneer and hints at a location somewhere in the world where the pioneer was born or worked.   To answer the question, you must frame the solution within the map viewfinder using the map's pan/zoom functions.


Intrigued?  Consider using these other quizzes in the “Treasure Hunts” theme.  Here is a collection of 10 treasure hunt quizzes … beaches, mountains, cities, places, foods, and more.  


Quiz pioneers of geography and GIS

Quiz pioneers of geography and GIS

Sections of the geography and GIS pioneers treasure hunt quiz.


Which type of quizzes do you think GIS is most effective for?  I look forward to your comments. 



As the academic year begins in many countries, we want to provide updated recommendations for installing ArcGIS on student and employee-owned devices.  This is particularly important now that many students are learning remotely using their own devices.


The Esri Education Program offerings allow deployment of any product on student-owned devices; these offerings include the Education Institution Agreement, Academic Department License, and ArcGIS for Student Use.   We now recommend that institutions provide access to students and employees following these best practices for sharing ArcGIS executables and license files.


To meet increasing demand for online learning and to provide the flexibility expected of cloud computing, we updated our offerings in 2017 to permit any software licensed to a college or university to be deployed (installed and used) on student-owned devices and in hosted environments as well as on institution-owned and employee-owned devices.


The previous method of ordering separate 1-year Student Licenses (EVA codes) is now redundant and obsolete.  Thus, we will retire the pages and at the end of the year. They will not be updated for ArcGIS Desktop 10.8/ArcGIS Pro 2.6.


Last, please refer to the following resource on How to Manage ArcGIS with your updated Institution Agreement (previously known as Site License).

The Esri Development Center (EDC) program, soon will be renamed Esri Innovation Program (EIP), confers special status and benefits upon a select few leading universities that challenge their students to create innovative applications and projects with ArcGIS technology. 


Every year, universities that are a part of this program select one student to be their Student of the Year recipient - for innovative use of ArcGIS technology in learning or research. 


Simply sharing the wonderful work that some of these students have done, via this Story Map


Congratulations to them, and the faculty/instructors who mentored these students. 

Evolving GIS Architecture


Many of us have grown up thinking about GIS as a desktop software on our PC. (Ok, some of us remember farther back, to minicomputers and mainframes.) But as Roger Tomlinson taught during so many years, GIS is best thought of not as software for you but rather as a project among many. GIS is quite often a team activity, and frequently these days most of the team members are not sitting in a GIS lab or department.

Today it makes sense to think of what we might call “modern GIS”, which merges a powerful desktop system with mobile apps, web apps, enterprise server components, cloud mapping and data services, and developer tools to be able to provide the right functionality and the right user experience (UX) for experts to absolute novices. The proverbial GIS toolbox is distributed and now resides at many locations. The end user might be on fieldwork, collecting data and accessing the GIS via a mobile device; the data might be stored on a cloud server in another city or country; the processing routines might be running on another server; an external user might be watching the results on a dashboard in yet another location. This distributed system architecture has become a key part of the digital transformation of many organizations, the practical result of which is simply providing GIS-based analysis to many more employees or researchers.  

Learning about –and teaching-- modern GIS, what thousands of government and commercial organizations are using or are migrating to, opens the door to new collaboration and career opportunities. Let me be clear: traditional GIS users are seeking young graduates to help them move to, and scale-up, modern GIS architecture.


To get an idea of how Esri views modern GIS take a look at this video (or most any recent Esri conference video) outlining the evolving ArcGIS architecture, including but not limited to traditional GIS. These modern GIS components were not built by a speculative start-up, rather by a 50-plus year old technology company aiming to satisfy the day-to-day needs of organizations around the world. Who are these users? Let’s get specific. Esri’s Industries website provides a glimpse of what each of these professional communities does with and needs from a modern GIS.




Some instructors might think that this wider GIS architecture is too much to dominate, too much to keep up with. But no one person needs to be specialized in, nor teach, all of this. Each one of us chooses the tools and methods that are appropriate for the discipline, level and needs of user, and the tasks at hand. Are we interested in data collection? Then mobile apps are worth investing time in. Is data sharing a priority? Then online portals come into view. Do we need to extend the GIS to include external machine learning routines? Then developer tools come into play.

Understanding the options available, and what each component might be used for, moves GIS instruction further toward the industry and government workflows that students will encounter after graduation.


Many of these modern GIS components are available for free testing at the site. The Collector app is easily installed on mobile devices and allows field workers –from a utilities company or a science classroom—to collect and share geodata to an online, multiuser database. Survey123 is another mobile app, that allows users to create and run a geocoded survey in the field. You can watch in realtime as survey responses appear on the webmap: where do people feel unsafe, or want graffiti cleaned, or have seen a particular bird species? ArcGIS Online allows GIS users to create, analyze, visualize, organize, share, and discover geodata, from any web-connected device. StoryMaps and Dashboards provide many options for communicating GIS-based results to non-experts. Many students, non-expert GIS users, and also professional organizations can do most of their GIS work just with these web-enabled ArcGIS tools. The COVID-19 crisis has made it necessary for many people, including instructors and students, to brush up on these online solutions. In doing so they are discovering a whole new viewpoint on what is GIS is.

What I would do, were I still teaching? My practice, even in benign times, was to contemplate "If this were my students' last class ever in this field, what would I want them to leave with?" Above all else, I wanted them to be integrative critical thinkers, disposed to asking questions and learning insatiably. Today would likely be no different, and because of that we would take deep advantage of two tools: storymaps and dashboards.


Storymaps (whether ArcGIS StoryMaps or Classic Story Maps) allow the creator to design a presentation of content. The components can be galactic in scope, so creators must exercise self-control. Maps, apps, text, images, and video can be integrated and choreographed to maximize impact. Users can navigate out of sequence, but generally follow the author's plan. Some templates support "more story," while others support "more maps for investigation."


Dashboards allow the creator to take full advantage of rich numeric and categorical data about a topic, but leave it to the user to determine the path of exploration. Well-designed dashboards give enough info for the user to grasp the content of an element, and simply invite exploration, so different users may follow wildly different routes.


StoryMaps and Dashboards picture

Storymaps, then, are ideal for presenting content and a vision, while dashboards are ideal for presenting content that emphasizes personal pondering and extensive investigation. Which is better? Both, of course! Like pliers and wrenches, still photos and videos, playlists and channels, each has advantages. Storymaps allow deep presentations; dashboards foster discovery. Were I teaching today, each would play a critical role in my classroom, whether focused on science or social studies, whether we were together in time and space or having virtual and even asynchronous interactions, whether students were younger or older. Building integrative critical thinkers, disposed to asking questions and learning insatiably, is what will help us survive and prosper.


Consider these examples:

How should remote sensing be taught in the decade of the 2020s?  Remote sensing is more relevant to society and to education than ever before:  (1)  Remote sensing data sources, from Lidar, UAS, small satellites, and beyond, are rapidly diversifying, providing rich resources from which we may better understand our planet; (2) Remote sensing applications have spread far beyond natural resource management and GIScience to city planning, health, natural hazards, engineering, transportation, and many other fields. Developing remote sensing skills can help students secure careers where they can make a meaningful contribution to their own communities, and far beyond.  A combination of GIS and remote sensing skills will continue to be in increasing demand in the workforce.  (3) Remote sensing tools are more accessible than ever before:  Image analysis, for example, can be done in a web browser through ArcGIS Online and in web mapping applications, and it can also be done in ArcGIS Pro.  Remote sensing tools are also increasingly intertwined with GIS tools and workflows through this same ArcGIS platformGIS and remote sensing are no longer two parallel communities as they were 30 years ago.  Additional good news for instructors is that the ArcGIS platform allows you to teach GIS and remote sensing in a single environment.  


No matter if you are beginning a new remote sensing course or program, or want to modernize your existing remote sensing curriculum, my view is that that the primary objectives should be:  (1) to get students excited about remote sensing so that they will want to make it a key part of their academic and career pathway, (2) to provide interesting, compelling activities that will enable students to begin hands-on investigations right away, (3) to provide students with scientific and geotechnical foundations of remote sensing, and (4) to keep moving students forward to advanced applications.


The following are some ideas for incorporating modern remote sensing tools, data, fundamentals, and activities.  This essay provides introductory guidance, while subsequent essays will provide guidance on digging deeper with the tools and data, including textbooks, advanced analytics, and additional resources. 


Imagery-based web mapping applications.  These applications provide easy-to-use browser-based tools with compelling data, and thus are perfect for introducing foundations and skills.  Consider using the following two applications to start:  (1) The Landsat Lens allows your students to examine changes from natural and human causes, all over the world.  These causes could include volcanism, agriculture, the construction of dams and reservoirs, coastal erosion, glacial retreat, urbanization, mining, the shrinkage of lakes such as Lake Chad and the Aral Sea, evidence of political boundaries and differing land use on either side of specific borders, and many more.   

The Landsat Lens application.

Examining change over space and time with the Landsat Lens.


(2)  The Landsat Explorer allows your students to deepen their understanding of changes over space and time, as well as concepts of spectral bands, image resolution, and creating web mapping applications such as swipe maps.  Guidance is provided for these techniques, and one of the advantages of the Landsat Lens and the Landsat Explorer is that they run in a standard web browser, with nothing to install or to sign into. But the logical next step is to ask the students to sign into the Landsat Explorer so they can save the layers that they generate, and be able to do further analysis on the images in ArcGIS Online, or in ArcGIS Pro.

Landsat Explorer

Creating a swipe map with the Landsat Explorer Web App.


Another popular remote sensing web application containing a vast amount of data is the Wayback image service.   You and your students can access 6 years of high resolution satellite imagery (and growing) for the entire planet.  Consider the themes you could teach using this resource--urban sprawl, agricultural expansion, deforestation and reforestation, mining and reclamation, the construction of dams, changing water levels in reservoirs due to droughts or heavy precipitation, glacial retreat, meandering river processes, and much more. Discuss differences in the spectral band and resolution between the Wayback images and the Landsat imagery you analyzed earlier.  You can even examine changes on your own school or university campus with the detail that is now at your fingertips.  Similar to the Landsat Explorer, you can use this application without being signed in to ArcGIS Online, but if you are signed in, you can save specific layers and bring them to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro for further analysis.  


After students have used the above image applications, they should be ready to build one of their own.  This lesson guides them in the creation of an application focused on the devastating 2014 Oso, Washington landslide, using Web App Builder. Next, ask them to create a side-by-side 2D and 3D comparison app of any area on the planet that they choose.  Here is a sample that I built for one of my favorite areas on the planet--Mt Garfield, Colorado.


Mt Garfield 2D and 3D scene.

Mt Garfield, Colorado, 2D map and 3D scene.


Next, explore and teach with some of the image data sets available in the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.  This includes such imagery as Sentinel-2, NAIP, Landsat, Digital Orthophotos, Lidar, and much more. Bring the Sentinel-2 data into ArcGIS Online, filter it by date, and change the rendering to examine such phenomena as eruptions at Kilauea, as I provide guidance on here.  I compiled this list of additional Landsat image sites, which may be useful in having students practicing accessing different types of data from a variety of portals.  


Selected Activities.  Next, work through some hands-on activities, beginning with the above web mapping applications, continuing with ArcGIS Online, and then using ArcGIS Pro.  The Esri training site, or "Esri Academy" is one way to start.  Begin with an introduction to image classification with this web course, and continue with additional courses in this image classification learning plan.  Get started with Drone2Map using this web course, and with this learning plan, you will gain essential skills needed to monitor and analyze real-time data, and understand how to connect to real-time sensors, analyze and visualize a data feed, and send updates and alerts.


The Learn lesson library is another way to get hands-on experience.  One of my favorites in this library is the use of NASA GOES real-time weather imagery in conjunction with predicting the weather, using this Learn lesson.   Others in the Learn gallery include predicting coral bleaching, modeling landslide susceptibility, estimating solar potential, classifying land cover to measure shrinking lakes (shown below), and how to georeference imagery.  

Poyang study.


What resources are you using?  I look forward to your comments. 

The following FAQ will answer some of your commonly asked questions as it relates to using ArcGIS Notebooks in the cloud (ArcGIS Online).  This list will continually be updated. 


Introduction to ArcGIS Notebooks


Q: What is ArcGIS Notebooks?

A: ArcGIS Notebooks provides a Jupyter notebook experience optimized for spatial analysis. 


Q: What are benefits of using ArcGIS Notebooks?

A: ArcGIS Notebooks ships with hundreds of open source Python libraries alongside the ArcGIS Python libraries, ArcPy, and the ArcGIS API for Python. Other benefits include:

  • Provide easy sharable, consistent Python environment.
  • Reduces time spent in managing dependencies.
  • Direct access to web maps and apps.


Q: What are options to work with ArcGIS Notebooks in the ArcGIS platform?

A: Options to work with ArcGIS Notebooks in ArcGIS platform are:

  • ArcGIS Notebooks for Enterprise (server)
  • ArcGIS Notebooks in the cloud (ArcGIS Online)
  • ArcGIS Notebooks in ArcGIS Pro (workstation)
  • ArcGIS Notebooks for Developers (Builder plan and higher)


Q: What are the differences between ArcGIS Notebooks Standard, Advanced and Advanced with GPU Support?

  • Standard– includes the ArcGIS API for Python and hundreds of open source libraries; appropriate for administrative tasks, data engineering, and light analytics. While standard notebooks themselves are free to create and run, anything that would ordinarily consume credits in ArcGIS Online still does when performed in a notebook (running analysis or accessing premium content).
  • Advanced– includes everything offered in Standard plus ArcPy; offers a larger instance size (more compute and memory resources); appropriate for most workflows including large scale data engineering, advanced analytics and some machine learning workflows; credit rates apply.
  • Advanced with GPU– includes everything in Standard and Advanced along with a GPU powered instance that offers the highest amount of compute and memory resources; appropriate for computationally intensive workflows such as big data analytics, model training and model inferencing; credit rates apply.


Enabling Access to ArcGIS Notebooks


Q: Is a custom role needed to enable ArcGIS Notebooks access? How do I enable access to ArcGIS Notebooks for all the members in ArcGIS Online?

A: Notebook privileges are assigned through the role settings. To assign privileges that allow users to access standard or advanced notebooks in ArcGIS Notebooks, you’ll need to create a custom role in your ArcGIS Online Settings (by Administrator).  You can create the custom role based on any of the default roles such as Publisher role.   Once a new custom role is created, you will need to add notebook create and user privileges to your new custom role:

  • Under Role privileges, expand the Content group and turn on Create and edit notebooks. This allows the user to create and edit standard notebooks.

  • Expand the Premium content group and turn on Advanced Notebooks. This allows the user to create Advanced Notebooks that use ArcPy or access the GPU-enabled notebook runtime.


Once you’ve created a custom role with Advanced Notebooks enabled, you can make that role the default role for new users (Settings > New member defaults).   All users joining the organization from this point forward will automatically have access to ArcGIS Notebooks.  You will also need to assign that custom role to the existing members.  


Q: Is there documentation on how to set up access to ArcGIS Notebooks I can give to my Administrator?

A: Yes. This PDF lesson provides a step-by-step instruction on how to setup access to ArcGIS Notebooks by an Administrator.


Q: Is there any way to control this default setting? It seems like if you enabled Advanced access, when you spin up a Notebook, it defaults to Advanced.  Can the default change to Standard, even for users with Advanced access?

A: No, not with the current release. The Product team is working on a new launch experience that will make it easier for users to not accidentally pick an advanced runtime if that is not what they desire. 


Credits Calculation


Q: How is credit usage calculated with Advanced and Advanced with GPU?

A: Credit is charged per minute so if you divide those rates listed in the doc by 60, you will get the per minute pricing. Knowing the hourly rates makes it easier to do quick estimation.

Use this as a reference:


Standard:                            0 credits/minute                            

                                                                $0 USD/minute                                               


Advanced:                          .05 credits/minute         

                                                                $0.005 USD/minute                                                       


Advanced with GPU:       .5 credits/minute                                                           

                                                                            $0.05 USD /minute             


Q: Can you give examples of credit usage for using ArcGIS Notebooks for a class?

A: The credit usage will depend on the amount of time Notebooks are used. It also depends on the number of users and whether Notebooks are being used a few hours a week in a class or being used in a research project (many hours per week for an entire year).


For example, if a class of 20 students uses Notebooks for an average of 4 hours per week for a 16-week long course, the credit usage would be:

  • Advanced Notebooks:   3,840 credits total for course = 20 students x 4 hours x 16 weeks = 1,280 hours = 76,800 minutes @ 0.05 credits/min
  • Advanced Notebooks with GPU:  38,400 credits total for course = 20 students x 4 hours x 16 weeks = 1,280 hours = 76,800 minutes @ 0.5 credits/min


If an individual researcher uses Notebooks an average of 20 hours per week for a year (excluding a 4-week vacation), the credit usage would be:

  • Advanced Notebooks:   2,880 credits total for course = 1 researcher x 20 hours x 48 weeks = 960 hours = 57,600 minutes @ 0.05 credits/min
  • Advanced Notebooks with GPU:  28,800 credits total for course = 1 researcher x 20 hours x 48 weeks = 960 hours = 57,600 minutes @ 0.5 credits/min


Thus, in a classroom setting, you may want to budget 200-500 credits per student for Advanced Notebooks or 2,000 – 5,000 credits per student for Advanced+GPU.


In a research setting, you might want to budget 3,000 – 5,000 credits per person for Advanced Notebooks or 30,000 – 50,000 credits per person for Advanced+GPU.


Working with ArcGIS Notebooks


Q: How long can a notebook be open before it goes idle and automatically disconnects? 

A: 20 minutes. We do not charge for idle time, credits are calculated based on the last activity within the notebook.


Q: What happens if I forgot to close the Notebooks?

A: The notebook will time out and disconnected after 20 minutes of being idle.


Q: Can I use local data with ArcGIS Notebooks in ArcGIS Online?

A: Yes, you can.  On the Files component in ArcGIS Notebooks, you can upload your local data into /arcgis/home. You can also use the Python API to create a new folder and add data there.


Q: Can I create a new file folder under Files?

A: Yes, but you must do it using the ArcGIS API for Python. Adding new files to this location will also require the use of Python code.


Q: Is there a limit to how much data (rasters, shapefile, file geodatabases) I can upload into ArcGIS notebooks?

A: This depends on how you bring in data, using the ArcGIS API for Python to add data will allow you to bring in larger file sizes. The current file size limit using the upload UI under Files is 20MB. A new big file uploader is on the roadmap to increase the file size allowed by the upload UI.


Q: Can you schedule notebooks?

A: No, not with the current release.


Q: Can I download a notebook from ArcGIS Online?

A: Yes, here are two options:

1) In the Notebook, under File > Download As

2) Find the notebook  item in your Content > Open the item details page > Click Download button


Q: Can I upload a notebook into ArcGIS Online?

Yes, In the Content,  choose Add Item > From your computer.  It will add as a new item.  Be aware that any notebook uploaded will automatically use your default runtime unless you explicitly change it in the Item Details page.


Q: Are there some samples Notebooks? Where can I find them?

A: Samples are included in ArcGIS Notebooks.  There is a link to the Samples on the top right of your Notebooks in ArcGIS Online.



There are sample notebooks for categories: data science and analysis, content management and ArcGIS Online administration.


ArcGIS Notebooks Resources


Q: Do you have resources for teaching with ArcGIS Notebooks?

A: Yes.  Learn ArcGIS provides a learning path for teaching with ArcGIS Notebooks. You can also refer to this webpage for educators.


Q: Do we have resources for self-learning ArcGIS Notebooks?

A: The MOOC, Spatial Data Science: The New Frontier in Analytics uses ArcGIS Notebooks to teach Spatial Data Science. There are also several new Learn lessons under development.


Q: Is there a community where I can post questions or get more information?

A: You can join ArcGIS Notebooks community on Esri GeoNet and follow ArcGIS Analysis on Twitter.


Q: Where can I find more product information and resources on ArcGIS Notebooks?

A: Visit ArcGIS Notebooks product page.


Q: Who can I contact if I have additional questions about accessing ArcGIS Notebooks in my university?

A: You can contact


Q: How do I submit an enhancement request or report a bug?

A:  Bugs should be reported through tech support, enhancement requests can also be submitted through tech support. Additionally, you can use the GeoNet community to share ideas and engage with the broader ArcGIS Notebooks community.

In this video, and in this essay, I extend my greetings to students that are new to GIS this semester, and also welcome back returning students.  Whether you are online or experiencing your education face to face, I wish to (1) salute you for embarking or continuing your geospatial journey, (2) give you encouragement to use geospatial technology in your university life and in your future career, and (3) discuss where geotechnologies are going in this decade.  I have had the honor of serving in 4 major sectors of society--academia, private industry, government, and nonprofit, and reflecting upon my own journey and how GIS has evolved, I have not seen a more exciting time than the present in the world of GIS.  


I encourage you to build your network even while you are a student.  Networking is important in any field, and the GIS community is an incredibly generous international community that can help you in your journey.  Each person in GIS has an Earth ethic and believes in the power of GIS to enable our planet to become safer, smarter, healthier, and more sustainable.  Like you, I am a lifelong learner, and I have found that networking also provides another way to keep learning and growing.  For those of you who have been in GIS for awhile, consider giving back to the community by serving as a GeoMentor


What do you want to see in society?  This may seem like a deep question as you begin your semester, but I submit to you that it is worthy of consideration.  This is a disruptive time but also a pivotal one.  You have a major role to play in helping shape our society with your newfound knowledge and skills.  Modern life offers a wide variety of technologies and tools for you to dig into, and you have to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of immersing yourself in any of them.  For each thing you decide to spend time on, you have less time for something else.  While it is true that having GIS on your toolbelt will help you to be more employable, more important, I believe, is that GIS is a technology that you can feel good about!  It is being used by the Jane Goodall Elephant Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, the World Health Organization, your local government, your university's facility management department, and thousands of other organizations to make your campus, your community, and our world, to make smarter decisions.  Take our COVID-19 situation that we are in.  People are consuming COVID-related maps, dashboards, and infographics by the millions per hour.  Organizations are hosting Hubs, data portals, and other sets of information for their citizens and users.  Why?  Because these tools are needed, and valued, and enable decisions about health and safety to be made with data, and made thoughtfully.  


I would encourage you to learn about tools, such as field tools (Collector, Survey123, QuickCapture), spatial analysis tools, visualization capabilities such as with ArcGIS Insights, apps and app builders such as story maps and the Experience Builder.  Learn about methods and models, and the data structures behind it all, because the methods you use and the data that you use all influence the results of your research.  But in my view the most important tool is your brain.  The ultimate goal in using GIS is to enable you to think critically and spatially, and to be able to effectively consider the "where" element in solving problems.   The goal is not "points on a map", but to understand something better, in a richer, more meaningful way.   In so doing, you are also building your skills in collaboration and communication.  No matter whether you enter the field of health, business, transportation, economics, natural resources, energy, engineering, planning, or any others, studying the where and the whys of where will increase in importance during this decade. Also this decade will see an increased realization that to solve the complex problems of our 21st Century world will take a holistic view, and the ability of people to collaborate in interdisciplinary ways.  The holistic view of the interconnected earth as a system of systems--the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and anthrosphere--is fostered by the geographic perspective.  The problems in our world cross physical boundaries, political boundaries, and disciplinary boundaries. 


I submit that the following forces are important as you move forward in your university work and beyond--geoawareness (the increasing recognition by the general public that issues of energy, water, population, and other geographic issues are of concern and need to be addressed), geotechnologies (cloud-based, powerful, connected to larger IT trends such as the Internet of Things), geo-enablement (the empowering of larger segments of society to use geotechnologies), storytelling with maps, and citizen science (ordinary people collecting scientific data).  In the video, I discuss how these forces have brought us as a society to a key moment, and why I believe that you are in the right place at the right time.  Society needs you!   Think about what you are really passionate about, and use your training in GIS to begin grappling with those issue(s).  Communicate your research goals and results using tools such as story maps.   


Five trends in GIS will also be important in this decade:  1.  The merging of CAD, BIM, and GIS for interior space mapping and planning.  2.  Artificial intelligence and machine learning.  This transforms the types of GIS related job tasks, and even more importantly, greatly enhances GIS in a decision-support system.  3.  Remote sensing--small satellites, Lidar, UAVs, providing custom and often real-time imagery and derivative 2D and 3D map products.   4.  3D analytics.  We have had 3D visualization for several years, but 3D analytics is perfect because we live in a 3D world.   5.  The web SaaS software as a service GIS infrastructure, bringing some aspect of GIS to virtually any device, any time, anywhere, where it is most needed, fostering collaboration and decision-making.  


Consider nurturing these five skills that I believe will be important as you move forward:   1.  Be curious, about the world, about tools, about people, and about problems.   Curiosity leads to tenacity and problem solving.  2.  Be able to work with data; be critical about data--know its benefits and its limitations.  See our spatial reserves data blog for where to find data, how to evaluate it, and related societal issues (such as location privacy and data manipulation).  3.  Know your geographic and geotechnical foundations--spatial statistics, map projections, geodesy, spatial analysis methods, symbology, classification methods, scale, systems thinking, and more.  4.  Be adaptable and flexible.  Be willing to go outside your regional comfort zone, and also your disciplinary comfort zone.  5.  Develop good communications skills.  Develop a one minute, five minute, 20-minute "elevator" speech as to what you are doing, why you are doing it, and why it needs to be supported and funded.  


GIS has become easier to use than ever before.  That said, it is still a system, comprised of a rapidly evolving set of tools, methods, and data; many moving parts.  Give yourself time to learn it, but the key is to start.   Again I respect and salute you for doing just that--starting.  

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