Did You Know? Latest Contributions of Esri R&D and ArcGIS to Science

12-13-2017 10:14 PM
Esri Regular Contributor
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In addition to supporting the science community, we seek to do good science at Esri ourselves, as it underpins much of what we stand for as an organization. This is helping us to evolve ArcGIS into a comprehensive geospatial platform FOR science; a platform that supports research project management and collaboration, spatial analysis, visualization, open data, and communication of science, and all at multiple scales (i.e., from individual researcher to lab workgroup, to multi-department, multi-university, university-to-agency collaboration, to citizen engagement). This an exciting time at Esri as things are moving so quickly that it is hard to keep up with all the many pathways of our science initiative.


For instance, DID YOU KNOW, that you could run ArcGIS for free on a supercomputer? Indeed, if you want run something really big (e.g., vector-based geoanalytics, raster analytics, geoevent processing), there IS now a place where you can do this at no cost, and you can run as many ArcGIS processes as you want for free. The place is XSEDE (eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment), the NSF-funded collection of research supercomputer centers in the US. Their hardware includes supercomputers running special OS and middleware, as well as large windows clusters for cloud configuration, including JetStream, which has over 15,000 cores and 80Tb of RAM. Esri and XSEDE have recently collaborated to set up ArcGIS Enterprise with big data extensions within a Jupyter sandbox where XSEDE users can easily play and get started. For those wanting to run more specific or larger projects, they will also be able to configure and manage their own cluster. For more information about this opportunity, contact Eric Shook at the University of Minnesota, eshook@umn.edu  Professor Shook is GIS domain lead for XSEDE and can help you better understand XSEDE qualification requirements and how to apply for an allocation.

See also this Overview of Esri Cloud and Big Data Spatial Analytics Offerings Available to XSEDE.

DID YOU KNOW that ArcGIS now supports planetary science? We now provide support the Planetary Data System Version 3 Format and the ISIS Data Cube format.  We also support the coordinate systems for all planets, known named satellites, and dwarf planets in our solar system. This includes the Mars 2000 Sphere, which is critical for the Mars Rovers. Both ArcGIS Desktop and Server tier tools work for these other bodies, just as they do for Earth.

      This March we upgraded our Javascript 3.x API so that the measure widget in the Portal/ArcGIS  map viewer respects the correct planetary coordinate system and planetary body size. That team continues to evolve this for the 4.x API for 3D as well. Our Runtime Core Geometry Engines do not support Planetary Coordinate Systems yet, but we are working toward enhancing them in 2018 to do so. In addition, in next week’s Runtime Update 2, the Local Server will be based off of the 10.5.1 code base and support analysis on the Local Server and Map Packages in all Planetary, Satellite, and Dwarf Planet Coordinate Systems.  

There is now a publicly-shared Planetary Sciences Group with example web maps and story maps within the new Sciences Portal on ArcGIS . See also To Infinity and Beyond: ArcGIS Now Supports Extraterrestrial Mapping.

DID YOU KNOW that Esri is getting better all the time at fully supporting data in 3D, including LiDAR data? This includes our improved support for vertical aerial LiDAR curtain data in KML.  We are also working toward supporting multidimensional data in vertical curtain form, aka L2 or 3d fence or Swath. See our 3D fences tool in action in this video and this story map, with a full write up and examples in this ArcUser article, and with code that is also available on ArcGIS Code Sharing. In fact, DID YOU KNOW that there IS such a site as ArcGIS Code Sharing now?! 

DID YOU KNOW that Esri has a new initiative in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning? We now have "GeoAI" resources and demos on GitHub, and a recent blog post on possible machine learning implementations in ArcGIS. See also The Science of Where Seagrasses Grow: ArcGIS and Machine Learning.

DID YOU KNOW about Esri's new partnership with Microsoft in the realm of Artificial Intelligence and about the Esri technology now within Microsoft's Data Science Virtual Machine (i.e., ArcGIS Pro and the R-ArcGIS Bridge)? DID YOU KNOW that you can apply for cloud computing grants under this initiative? The next deadline is fast approaching at 15 December, but will be additional grant cycles in 2018. This is part of Microsoft's exciting new AI for Earth Initiative which may become "a game-changer for our planet." DID YOU ALSO KNOW about the Research AI for Earth European Union Oceans Award?  Submit by 15 February 2018.

DID YOU KNOW about the Image Analyst Extension for ArcGIS Pro 2.1 Beta1 Release? The Image Analyst Extension is now available in ArcGIS Pro 2.1 Beta1. This is a controlled Beta which is not part of the ArcGIS Pro 2.1 Early Adopter Program. However, it can be accessed through a separate Early Adopter Program focused on the Image Analyst extension. Try it out, review the resources and provide feedback for the functional areas of interest to you within the extension, including stereo and image space visualization, mensuration, feature extraction/interpretation and image classification. Please direct any questions or concerns to Vinay Viswambharan vinayv@esri.com.

DID YOU KNOW about these  imagery resources?


  • the ArcGIS API for Python is easy to learn and extremely useful for scientists, including data scientists? One of the features that makes this API so powerful is its integration with the Jupyter Notebook.
  • our Hydrology Toolset in ArcGIS Pro has been parallelized in Raster Analytics at ArcGIS 10.6?
  • the R-ArcGIS Bridge now has raster support in beta?
  • Esri released our first beta Docker containerization support with this summer’s 10.5.1 release of ArcGIS Enterprise and that we’re continuing to look at containers moving forward? See CloudFormation templates to deploy ArcGIS Enterprise on Amazon Web Services and/or AWS CloudFormation and ArcGIS—ArcGIS Enterprise on AWS | ArcGIS Enterprise.
  • Esri recently added support for the SMAP (10.5.0), GPM (10.5.1), GOES-R (10.6, both ABI and GLM sensors, and ASTER L1T (10.6) platforms over the last year in an effort to better support our remote sensing users? Here are some instructions from the National Snow and Ice Data Center on working with SMAP data in ArcGIS.
  • the Esri LandSat Explorer app’s code was open-sourced this week? This is one of our many #imagery items on that GitHub site for code sharing.
  • Esri has detailed our philosophy of and commitment to "Open" at our Esri’s Open Vision site? Many are familiar  with the closed, limited-interoperability ESRI products of the past, but we are ever moving forward. DID YOU KNOW that as a company, we are currently leveraging and contributing to over 200 open-source projects, while delivering over 350 open-source projects of our own? Esri software provides direct read, import, and export for over 300 formats, including over 200 image formats and sensors. Esri supports over 100 geospatial standards (including those from ISO TC 211 and OGC), and provides open access to scores of APIs and SDKs.



Thanks to Tripp Corbett, Steve Kopp, and Peter Eredics for providing much of the information for this post.

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About the Author
Dawn was appointed Chief Scientist of Esri in October 2011 after 17 years as a professor of geography and oceanography at Oregon State University. As Esri Chief Scientist, she reports directly to Esri CEO Jack Dangermond with a mission to strengthen the scientific foundation for Esri software and services, while representing Esri to the national and international scientific community. Dawn maintains an affiliated faculty appointment as Professor of Geography and Oceanography at Oregon State. Follow her on Twitter @deepseadawn. More info. also at http://esriurl.com/scicomm and http://dusk.geo.orst.edu.