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Ways AEC Firms Can Leverage ArcGIS Living Atlas

03-07-2024 09:39 PM
by Esri Contributor
Esri Contributor
3 0 465

Enhance Workflows with Authoritative Data

ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World layers provide valuable data on various geographic phenomenon such as land cover, vegetation, hydrology, soil types, and more. You can use this data to enhance your Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Environmental consulting project workflows and empower your users, both GIS and CAD, with direct access to the data and tools they need to draw insights that create actionable opportunities for your organization. AEC and Environmental consulting firms are busy and always on the go and so it can be hard to find the time to explore the vastness of the Living Atlas and identify what content really lends itself to providing value to the work you're doing. We'll highlight resources we see as being valuable to AEC and Environmental consulting firms and the specific workflows they perform. If you'd like to learn in more detail about the benefits of using Living Atlas in AEC, visit the StoryMap "3 Ways AEC Firms Can Get the Most Out of ArcGIS Living Atlas" that Brett Heist (@Bheist_esri) and I prepared.

For AEC and Environmental consulting professionals, the Living Atlas can be used to analyze and understand the geographic context of a project site. This information can help in site selection, design, and planning processes. For example, the  National Land Cover Database (NCLD) land cover  layer can provide insights into the existing vegetation and land use patterns, allowing architects and engineers to design structures that are in harmony with the surrounding environment. The  National Hydrography Dataset hydrology  layer delineates the rivers and waterbodies for an area which becomes a richer story when shown with the  NLCD impervious surfaces  and flood-prone areas from the  FEMA USA Flood Hazard  layer. These layers together can support the design and construction of resilient and sustainable drainage systems for infrastructure projects.

At a proposal stage or pre-planning desktop analysis, AECs and Environmental consulting firms can leverage the Living Atlas data to layer information for a rich and insightful understanding of a project site before field crews are deployed to conduct environmental assessments and impact studies. These layers provide up-to-date and accurate information on various environmental parameters, allowing consultants to analyze the potential impacts of a project on the surrounding ecosystem. This can include assessing the  impact on wildlife habitats ,  wetland environments ,  water resources , and  sensitive ecological areas . By incorporating this data into their analysis, AECs and Environmental consultants can provide more informed recommendations and mitigate potential environmental risks which are carried throughout the design, construction, and OM&M phases of a project.

Curated Living Atlas Resources for the AEC Industry

There is a  group of layers for landscape analysis  that are configurable and provide access to hundreds of measures about aspects of the people, natural systems, and plant/animals that define the landscape of the United States and the rest of the world. Esri has taken best available data from many public data sources and provided the content in an easy to use GIS consumable collection of datasets.

The below layers are a small subset of the overall group of landscape analysis layers and other Living Atlas layers that can support your environmental planning, design approach, construction management, and ongoing operations on AEC and Environmental consulting projects. Help build up the AEC and Environmental consulting community library by letting us know in the comments below what other Living Atlas layers you find helpful or reach out to us by emailing us at




National Land Cover Database (NLCD)




About the Author
Jennie Byron is an AEC Senior Solutions Engineer at Esri. She is focused on advising and supporting AEC firms as they integrate geospatial tools into their business processes. Jennie has over 20 years of experience as a geospatial project lead enabling technical and consulting services across all areas of AEC businesses, including environment, infrastructure, water, and transportation. Her background is in environmental and earth sciences.