Community Maps Program – User Conference Recap

2012 User Conference Recap and the Unveiling of Community Maps 2.0

This year’s International User Conference was another big success for the Community Maps Program. At the conference Esri announced a new way for organizations to contribute, which we’re calling CM 2.0. This method is now in a Public Beta phase of rollout and ready to take contributions from both existing participants and new members alike. So if you missed our presentations at the UC this year, or simply need a refresher, this article provides a summary of what we communicated at the conference surrounding CM 2.0 and how existing or new contributors can get started.

To refresh the reader an article was published in March 2012 describing background for Esri’s development and execution of the CM 2.0 participation method for the program.

Esri’s Community Maps Team conducted a series of technical workshops on the program at the 2012 UC describing the enhancements to the program, ways to get started, and technical details on the information models used for contributors. These presentations, like many others at the UC, were recorded and are available in the proceedings DVD and are now available by searching the GIS Bibliography.

What’s New with Community Maps? In summary

The Community Maps Program is an Esri-led initiative which provides a way for authoritative data owners to have their content integrated in basemaps hosted by Esri on ArcGIS Online. This provides a space for neighboring organizations to collaborate and expand their basemaps regionally utilizing professional high-quality cartographic principles in a secure and reliable online environment. Since its inception in 2010, the Community Maps Program has grown to hundreds of contributing organizations, with just as many preparing their data for submission. Authoritative contributions currently enhance the World Imagery, World Topographic, World Street, and Oceans Basemap, and the program is also expanding to soon include more data themes from the National Geographic World Map and Light-Grey Canvas Basemap.

The Community Maps team announced the CM 2.0 contribution method at the What’s New with Community Maps technical session. This enhancement to the program was made as a result of feedback from the existing contributors to the program. The goals for CM 2.0 are to deliver more useful maps and services to the user community and to make content submission easier. This contribution method offers the capability to use contributor data at more scales in the basemaps in addition to authoring more basemaps with the user’s contribution.

CMP 2.0 Vector Submission Workflow

Contributors who are able to send their GIS data to Esri will follow this simple workflow for participation.

CM 2.0 Simplified Workflow

A contributor begins the CM 2.0 process by using a newly released Contribution Management application to apply for stewardship of data in a specific geography. This will alert Esri that a user wishes to join the program and also will check if other members are currently contributing data within the same geography as the applicant. Applying online is simple and only requires the applicant to provide some basic contact information, a description of their area of interest and the layers for which they wish to apply as data steward.

Once approved, Esri will alert the applicant via email to begin uploading GIS data to Esri. The GIS data should be a zipped file geodatabase in the Local Government Information Model and only contain the information the contributor indicated in their application. The data should be submitted to Esri in the participant’s local projection, eliminating the need to re-project.

Esri will receive the data and run some quality control checks. These review checks will evaluate the comprehensiveness of the data as well as required attribution for symbology and labeling. When the review is complete, the applicant will receive a full report of the findings so that any conditions that will impact the map can be resolved. Following the data review process, Esri will author a basemap and allow the contributor to review their geography as a private map service. At this point, the participant will review their service and decide if they wish to resubmit data updates or approve their contribution and move forward in the process.

When the participant approves the map, Esri will begin the process of publishing it into the Map Services on ArcGIS Online. This concludes the workflow for this contribution cycle. Updates to the map are controlled through this process by the contributor. When contributors’ data is updated, they can make another submission of their entire set of data, regardless of what data has changed and what has not. Therefore it is not required for contributors to keep track of the changes since their last submission. Esri will run change detection on their submission and only update the map areas where changes have occurred.

As mentioned above, data being contributed is required to conform to the Local Government Information Model. This should not be confused with data being completely migrated to a fully functioning Local Government enterprise system. Esri presented at the UC a session on Introduction to the Community Maps Information Model. This presentation demonstrated the alignment of the Community Maps Program with the information model for Local Governments, and was designed to remove the myth of the complexities of moving basemap GIS data to the minimum feature classes and attribution needed to contribute to the program. We understand that changing data schema can be a process and not a quick change for organizations. Therefore we recommend creating some simple tools through Model Builder or ArcGIS Data Interoperability to migrate data from the source schema to the feature classes with the minimum attributes of the Local Government Model. The following table provides a list of feature classes used through CM2.0 from the Local Government Model.

Local Government Features Used with CM 2.0

Getting Started

Esri presented a session at the UC on Getting Started in the Community Maps Program. This session focused on qualifying as a contributor, identifying the data to contribute and the steps to take before applying.

Organizations can determine if they are potential contributors by asking a few simple questions.

  1. Does my organization develop and/or maintain data in my geography used in basemaps such as road centerlines, land parcels, parks or other land marks, bathymetry data (Oceans basemap), building footprints, or orthorectified imagery?
  2. Does my organization have the authority or rights to distribute this GIS data to Esri and willing to grant the rights to Esri to use in ArcGIS Online?

Organizations that sign up to submit content as cached basemaps or GIS vector data must complete and sign a Community Maps Participation Agreement. This agreement is made available to the contributor following the apply process in the workflow and simply answers the two questions in the affirmative.

Our more common contributors are GIS groups of municipalities, counties, states or at national levels around the world. We also receive content from campuses of universities, business or industrial areas or other agencies that have more theme specific data such as parks and recreation departments. With the expansion of the Oceans Basemap we are collecting data from hydrographic organizations or scientific agencies which collect high-resolution sub-surface terrain data of the oceans. If you are unsure of how your organization may fit into the program feel free to contact us at for a consultation.

A fantastic way to get started in the program is to attend one of our free training seminars. These seminars are instructor-led and are conducted online. The training helps organizations prepare for submission by developing techniques for data migration to the Local Government Model and data quality review.

Esri is excited to offer this participation method to many organizations, and it is important to note that the classic method of submitting cached map tiles is still fully supported. We understand that many of our content providers are unable to provide their GIS data due to restrictions and have map templates available to support these contributors. Please feel free to contact the Community Maps Team for further information at and stay tuned to updates to our Resource Center.

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