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The Role of Maps in GIS


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Clint Brown's Technology Keynote presentation at the 2010 ESRI International User Conference on Wednesday, July 14th. …

Clint Brown's Technology Keynote presentation at the 2010 ESRI International User Conference on Wednesday, July 14th.

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  • 1. The Role of Maps in GIS
    Clint Brown
  • 2. “Mapping” encompasses a lot
    Traditional media
    Paper maps
    New media
    Web maps
    Mobile maps
    Geographic information
    People have learned to use and appreciate the value of “new media” maps, and GIS can exploit this
  • 3. People use maps for many activities
    To communicate and convey large amounts of information
  • 4. To find patterns
    Median Age
  • 5. To view information over time
  • 6. To derive new information using analysis
    Malaria Predictions
    Heat map of crime
    Optimizing routes
  • 7. To communicate ideas, concepts, designs, …
    Sarah Ellingson
  • 8. To get status reportsOperational dashboards
    Haiti Earthquake response
    Water utility operational dashboard
    BP Oil Blowout
  • 9. To compile geographic information
    Most GIS organizations compile and maintain information inventories (e.g., Hydrology, Soils, Geology, Transportation, Boundaries, Parcels, etc.)
  • 10. Maps are made from a series of layers
    • Layers represent logical collections (themes) of information – Roads, Trails, Surface Elevation, Hydro, . . .
    • 11. The contents of each map are organized as a series of layers
    A map is a kind of geographic information model . . .
    . . . GIS is founded on map layer concepts
  • 12. There are many types of GIS map layers
    Multi-scale Basemaps
    Derived Layers (e.g., Model Results)
  • 15. Multi-scale BasemapsBasemap layers provide a framework and context for working with other map layers
    General purpose city
  • 16. General Purpose City Map: Pasadena, California
  • 17. Basemaps
    Basemap Sandwich
    Fused Base Map
    Reference Overlay
    Topographic Basemap
    Imagery Hybrid
  • 18. BasemapsUsing map sandwiches
    Terrain underlay
  • 19. Basemaps Using map sandwiches
    Reference overlay
    Names, transportation, hydro, . . .
  • 20. Basemaps Using map sandwiches
    Slide your theme into the sandwich
    Population, Hydrology, Geology, Soils, Land use, Ecoregions, . . .
    Median Age
  • 21. Basemaps Using map sandwiches
    Imagery Hybrid
    Imagery plus Reference Overlay
  • 22. Types of layersFeature layers
    . . . Feature shapes plus attributes
    Portrayed using symbols, colors, and labels — based on attribute values
    Assign symbols to attribute values (e.g., street class) . . . . . . and labels (e.g., street name)
  • 23. Feature layers have information popupsLayers as interactive reports
    Maps tell stories
  • 24. Feature layers have attachmentsAdd photos and other documents to a feature
    . . . how features communicate rich information
  • 25. Feature layersAre used to compile and edit data
    • Geodatabase schema for parcels
    • 26. Parcel fabric uses specialized topological rules for how elements fit together to form the parcel fabric
    • 27. A Map Document has Layers
    • 28. Layers have symbology and labels
    • 29. Layers have Feature Templates for editing
  • Some layers are derivedGeocoding layers
    Feature layer created from an address table
  • 30. Sensor layersFeature layers can be created for sensor networks
    Traffic cameras
    Stream gauges
  • 31. Image layers (Raster)
    • Individual image files
    • 32. Mosaics: Collections of imagery used as integrated map layers
  • Surface layers
    Contours and Elevation Points
    DEM Rasters
    Terrains (Multi-resolution Tins)
  • 33. Derived layersGeoprocessing Results
    Analytical Models
    Optimizing Travel Times
    Areas within 2-, 4-, and 6-hours by truck
    Suitability map
    Polygon overlay of flood plains on parcels
    Spatial statistics
    Derived layers for spatial analysis and to automate tasks (e.g., ETL)
  • 34. ArcMapTo create a map, you create layers and add them to your map
    The Table of Contents helps you to organize the layers in your map
  • 35. Layers encapsulate how you work with GIS datasets
    How datasets are classified, symbolized, and labeled
    How to view and work with feature attributes
    How features are edited
    Attribute table
    HTML popups
    New in Version 10
    Feature editing templates
  • 36. Layer properties
    Subsets (Queries)
    Scale-dependent display properties
    Joins and relates
    Attribute field properties
    Alias names
    Visible fields
    Hidden fields
    Display expressions
    Time properties
    Group layers
    Visible fields, expressions, captions, …
    Time Slider
    Editing templates
  • 37. Your map helps you to
    Compile and edit shared features
    Define the visible map scales
    Derive a new layer by analyzing information in other layers
    Can be saved and shared as map packages and layer packages
    ArcMapMap documents and layers encapsulate your knowledge
  • 38. Users share maps and layersUsing ArcGIS Online
    Free Online Storage
    Map packages and
    Layer packages
    Search / Use
    Desktop Users
  • 39. ArcGIS 10
    ArcGIS is about making, using, and sharing GIS maps and apps for many purposes
    Desktop Maps (MXD, MPK, MSD, LYR, LPK)
    Web Maps and Apps
    Mobile Maps and Apps
  • 40. ArcGIS is an online system for using geographic information everywhereA range of clients — GIS desktops, Web browsers, and mobile devices
    Connected to maps and geographic information services from thousands of organizations worldwide.
    On local computers (and as files on disk)
    Published as GIS Web services for use within an enterprise
    Published and shared in the cloud
  • 41. GIS web mapsA new kind of map that works on the web
    Shared with everyone
    Works everywhere
    In browsers
    Mobile devices
    In custom apps
    And in GIS desktops
  • 42. Web MapsSharing GIS with everyone
    There is a new map media called a web map
    This is one of many map patterns for the web and is already widely used (e.g., by Google, Microsoft Bing, ArcGIS Online, etc.)
    This pattern involves the use of multi-scale base maps plus operational overlays (mashups)
    Each map is published as an open map service on the web
    Published with multiple APIs: REST, SOAP, WMS, WCS, KML
    A Web Map combines these in a common application
    Simple HTML and Mobile APIs are used to assemble web applications that reference REST endpoints (URLs).
    Only a few dozen lines of code are needed to create great web map apps
    With ArcGIS Online, making a map is even easier (No web programming)
    Make a Web Map
  • 43. Web maps can be created and shared Web browser (
    Create your Web map at and in Explorer Online
  • 44. Web maps can be sharedArcGIS Explorer Online
  • 45. Web maps can be sharedAdd notes and build presentations with Explorer Online
    Using maps to tell stories
  • 46. Web maps can be sharediPhone, iOS, Android, . . .
  • 47. Web maps can be shared Using Custom Apps
    Web APIs for Javascript, Flex, Silverlight, SharePoint, iOS, and Android
  • 48. Web maps can be sharedArcGIS Explorer Desktop
    Adding tasks for modeling and analysis
  • 49. Web maps can be sharedArcMap
  • 50. Web maps can be sharedArcMap
    Perform advanced work:
    Editing, Geoprocessing, Modeling, . . .
  • 51. How to create great web maps and apps
  • 52. Web Maps
    A web map is a set of web map layers.
    Each layer is based on a web map service.
    A web map service in ArcGIS is published using a map document.
    You author your web map layers as map documents in ArcMap and publish them as map services.
    You combine a set of web map layers from multiple services in your web map application.
    There is a common pattern for web maps
  • 53. Creating a GIS Web MapA commonly used pattern
    Multi-scale Basemap(s)
    Operational Overlay(s)
    Tools for working with each layer
    A GIS app to bring this to life
  • 54. Building a multi-scale base mapA series of related maps for each map scale
    Using ArcMap
    Define map scales
    Build a map for each map scale
    Put the set of layers for each map scale in a group layer
    Set scale-dependent drawing for each group layer
    Generate a cached map service
    • Define Interactive feature reports
    • 55. Locator
  • Community BasemapsYou don’t have to build it all yourself. Your map can be part of a community map.
    You need a set of multi-scale base maps to accomplish your work
    No user can assemble their complete map. You need contributions from other users as well
    ESRI wants to support your efforts to build and publish your collective information as a series of great base maps
    A unified, harmonized series of basemaps authored and shared by the ArcGIS community
  • 56. Operational LayersThe focused set of layers that users work with
    Editing and data access layers
    Observations, sensor feeds, incidents
    Query results
    Result layers that are derived from analytical models
    Inundation Areas &Affected Buildings
    Incidents, Customer Calls, Work Orders
  • 57. Operational layers
    Put interesting data behind your maps. Use tools to reach into that data.
    “What can you do with a single mouse-click?”
    Maps as interactive reports enable you to simplify the cartography (e.g., fewer and simpler labels)
  • 58. Operational Layers are used for information accessLayers as interactive, georeferenced reports
    Operational Overlay
    Operational Overlay
    Base Map
    Basemap Sandwich
  • 59. Simplest Report is Information PopupThe most common layer report method
    Avoid use of
    Feature and Object IDs
    Abbreviated / technical field names
    Code values
    Poorly formatted real numbers
  • 60. Operational LayersLayers as interactive reports
    Interactive reports are controlled by adding information to specific results columns in your geodatabase
    Add columns with meaningful valuesto your feature tables
    Populate report attributes for each feature
    Identify the audience. Focus on delivering information to help them do their work
  • 61. Operational LayersThe focused set of layers that users work with
    Include tools for rich operations
    Calculate population within 100 miles of an earthquake
    Show current stream flow
    Project Planning
    Stream Flow
    Water Utility Plans
  • 62. Operational LayersCartographic design is important
    Good symbology and labels
    Support for scale-dependent display
    Not relevant at these map scales
  • 63. Apps use basemaps plus operational overlaysOut-of-the-box apps and custom apps
    Operational layers require:
    Cartographic design (e.g., scale-dependencies)
    Popup Report Design
    Tools to work with the layer’s content
    Maps tell stories
    Use Presentations in ArcGIS Explorer
    Associate specific tools with each operational layer
  • 64. Observations and ImplicationsAnd random thoughts . . .
  • 65. Better maps are needed
  • 66. Key points
    The GIS community builds and maintains important information sets
    Maps – both 2D and 3D, are the way this geographic information is brought to life
    However, most GIS professionals are not cartographers
    But, …There is a GIS mapping “community”
    The mapping community can provide the designs and build map specifications for the rest of us for web delivery (i.e., templates)
    The mapping community can share its designs and map templates
    Users can import their data into these templates and publish maps on the Web
  • 67. Most GIS maps and apps are too complicatedSimplify and Streamline
    One-size-fits-all, general Übermaps
    Applications with (too) many options and toolbars and bells and whistles and the kitchen sink, etc.
    Designing map and geodatabase together leads to simpler data models that are streamlined
  • 68. GIS for everyone means your GIS must be relevant and vitalOld ways of GIS are no longer sustainable
    Current Focus
    Individual organizations have their own maps
    Independently designed map documents and geodatabases
    Slow to deploy and adapt
    Focus is on data formats and dataset sharing
    Standards efforts are focused on this too. Clunky sharing and standards.
    Focused interactive maps that are mission-based
    Transformation to shared web maps for delivery
    Work together on common designs (Templates)
    Use of Web maps for information access
    Use of Web maps to communicate and tell stories
    Simplify and streamline
    Maps and templates will play a critical role
  • 69. The ArcGIS Community will create and share great GIS maps and apps (Content)
    ESRI is building some core maps
    Imagery, streets, locators
    Demographic and business maps
    ESRI is engaging with our user communities on other strategic maps (collaborative)
    Topographic map, Image map, Street map, Others
    Many of you will create and share maps
    Hosted at ArcGIS Online
    Great map and app designs shared as templates
  • 70. Lessons learned
    Group layers do a lot for your design (e.g., scale-dependent display, organizing information by theme, . . .)
    Frequently, you’ll need maps to be more specific at larger map scales
  • 71. Base maps become more specific at larger map scales
  • 72. Base maps become more specific at larger map scales
  • 73. Base maps become more specific at larger map scales
  • 74. Lessons learned
    • Important to design maps and geodatabases in unison
    Leads to simpler data models that are streamlined
  • 75. Lessons learned
    Leverage map content from other users
    Use “map sandwiches” for some base maps
  • 76. Lessons learned
    Leverage map content from other users
    Use “map sandwiches” for some base maps
  • 77. Lessons learned
    Leverage map content from other users
    Design your maps to fit with others’
  • 78. Lessons learned
    Leverage map content from other users
    Design your maps to fit with others’
  • 79. Lessons learned
    Building the content is the hard work.
    Creating the map is a fraction of the effort.
    We all have something valuable (extremely valuable) to contribute
    • 12 hours of data processing
    • 80. 90 minutes to cache
    • 81. Seven map scales 1:36,000 to 1:1,000
    Cambridge, MA and Harvard University
  • 82. Lessons learnedGIS content is almost always better than consumer web maps
    Trusted & Understood
    Known quality
    . . . and consumer web maps can improve through the use of GIS content
  • 83. Summary
  • 84. GIS is evolving to emphasize the role of maps How we communicate with GIS
    Maps portray logical collections of geographic information as map layers
    They are at the heart of how GIS is used
    They provide an effective metaphor for modeling and organizing geographic information as a series of thematic layers
    Maps encapsulate everything we do with GIS
  • 85. The new Web GIS trend will require better maps and information
    Will drive a resurgence in the need for high quality, up-to-date information
    The traditional data compilation work of GIS professionals will be needed to meet this need
    Web GIS deployments will lead to increased professional GIS work and sharing for
    Data automation
    3D GIS
    Map use
    A key goal in ArcGIS 10 is about meeting these needs
  • 86. Key points
    Unified map designs are needed
    Harmonized map views that can be mashed up together
    Shared data schemas and maps across organizations
    This leads to shared apps across organizations
    Shared maps and apps are recognizable. Consumers can learn to use and apply familiar maps
    Crowd sourcing by the GIS community
  • 87. Base Maps plus Operational OverlaysThere are many types of “base maps”
    Consumer maps provide imagery and streets. These are important but do not provide the context for addressing all problems.
    Additional web maps are needed to provide the context or framework for addressing a range of problems.
    The GIS community must provide these base maps.
    Very few web maps can be built by a single organization.
    A collaborative effort is needed to bring our content together in a series of unified, harmonized, continuous basemaps.
  • 88. Thank You
  • 89. Useful Links
    Download slides at:
    Look for BLOG article named “The role of maps in GIS” by Clint Brown
    Help topics
    The role of maps:
    ArcMap documents and Web maps:
    Web GIS concepts and implementation steps:
    Map Templates Gallery:
    Community Basemaps: