How to Contribute Maps to the Living Atlas of the World

In this blog, you will see how to contribute your maps, apps, Story Maps, scenes and layers to the Living Atlas of the World. The focus is on how to use the new “contributor app” for the Living Atlas of the World.

There are two useful things the contributor app does for you and your ArcGIS Online items. First, it gives each item a “score” based on your item’s key characteristics. Second, if your item meets a minimum score of 80 out of 100 possible points, you can nominate your item for review and possible inclusion in the Living Atlas.

A great way to start is to have a look around the Living Atlas of the World, to get a sense of what it includes. You likely will find content relating to your interests; or, perhaps you notice your interests are under-represented, and you’d like to contribute something.

The contributor app is available to review the content you have created in ArcGIS Online, and, when ready, nominate it to be added to the Living Atlas of the World. Review the general steps below, or watch this 2 minute video.

How To Video

Start at and log in with your ArcGIS Online account.

After you log in, the Contributor app shows a selection of items that you own in ArcGIS Online. Things that can be nominated for use in the Living Atlas are visible.

The list is sorted by date last edited, with the most recently edited items listed first. Other sort options are available.

You can filter the list, to show only web maps, for example. You can also enter a search term term to quickly find an item.

Score Your Item

After you log into the Living Atlas Contributor app, click on a item’s title to view the item’s score.

Even if you don’t plan to nominate an item for the Living Atlas, it’s useful to see how its key characteristics score. Every item benefits from good documentation.

The score provides a simple comparison of your item’s key characteristics against a set of minimum standards found in the vast majority of Living Atlas items. For example, a web map’s key characteristics include:

  • title
  • summary
  • description
  • thumbnail
  • credits
  • use and constraints
  • tags
  • drawing speed
  • popups
  • item owner’s profile

Improve Your Score

The five tabs located just below the score let you examine, and edit, your item’s key characteristics. Click on a tab to see individual scores for each key characteristic.

As an example, most items in the Living Atlas use at least two words in their title. If your item has a one-word title, the Contributor app alerts you to this condition, and offers guidance on best practices, and specifics on how to improve the score.

Roll your mouse over the “i” button to see Guidance and Scoring notes for each characteristic.

To edit a key characteristic, click the Edit button at right. Make your changes and hit Save. This is the same as editing the item directly in ArcGIS Online’s item page. Note how the score changes after you hit Save.

Continue to the other tabs to review the guidance and scoring for each characteristic.

If you prefer to make your edits in the ArcGIS Online page, click the link just below the item’s thumbnail. After you complete your edits there, come back to the Contributor app, and refresh the browser’s tab to see an updated score.

Set Your Tags

Items appearing in the Living Atlas must use one tag from the special tags listed on the left side. If you see an obvious fit, hit the Edit button at right, then choose the tag on the left side. Clicking on a tag on the left side may add a second “parent” tag as well. Hit Save.

Save additional tags to your item as needed. Your tags do not need to duplicate words in your title or description – all the words in the title and description are already used in Search operations. For example, a map titled “Population Density” might make good use of tags “people” and “crowding” for anyone who searches using those terms. “Population” and “Density” are already in the title.

Update Your Profile

People want to know where an item came from, who created it, who to contact with questions. Follow the guidance (hover over the little “i” button) to maximize your profile score. Good news: edit this once, and it improves the score for every item you own.

Ready to Nominate?

As soon as your score is 80 or higher, you can nominate your item. Hit “Nominate” and the Contributor app records your nomination so that a Living Atlas curator can follow up with you. Your item now shows a status of “Nominated.”

Now that your item is nominated, all further communication will now take place over email.

A Living Atlas curator will see your item.  He or she will write up some observations and, if needed, suggestions for the item’s key characteristics. When ready, the curator will email those observations/suggestions to you, the owner of the item.

Review the observations and suggestions, and make any changes you agree with. For any suggestions you disagree with, please communicate that back to the curator over email. Once you and the curator are in agreement that an item is suitable for the Living Atlas, the curator will “Accept” the item for inclusion in the Living Atlas.

Things to know

  • The app is best viewed in a modern browser on a laptop or PC: Chrome and Firefox preferred. Safari works in the latest versions. We hope to support recent versions of Internet Explorer in the future.
  • The detection of custom popups is available for web maps only. We will continue to improve the detection and scoring rules for popups in all types of items. Suggestions and examples are welcome.
  • Map draw speed is based on the initial extent saved in the web map or layer. Try different extents in your web map to maximize initial draw speed. This helps not only your score, but also anyone viewing your web map.
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  1. mantas_btr says:

    I am trying to nominate a Tile Layer to the Living Atlas. I already reached score 84, however, I cannot understand why Draw Time and Pop-ups are scored 0. This layer is cached by all Esri recommendations and it obviously do not have pop-ups. So, what could you recommend? Is it even possible to nominate data layer?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Jim Herries says:

      You can email the item’s URL to me at jherries at esri and I can have a look.

      You do have a couple options to try to get a draw time score from a known, good layer:

      1) when the Contributor app tries to draw your layer for the first time, quickly double-click on the map to zoom in. You may have to do this 2 or 3 times to “trick” the app into drawing the layer successfully at a scale where the layer is faster to draw

      2) in the item page for your layer, choose Edit and manually change the layer’s extent to a small area, such as a neighborhood. Save the layer, and reload the Contributor app to see if it scores normally.

      • mantas_btr says:

        It seems that Contributor app cannot evaluate Draw Time unless browser’s language is set to English (US). It is possible to nominate data layer if pop-ups score 0.