ArcGIS for Telecommunications UC 2011 Recap

We want to thank everyone who attended our sessions at the 2011 User Conference this July. The feedback we received was outstanding andwe are looking forward to seeing you at future events.

We kicked off the week with the Sunday TelUG meeting where the group participation in a lively dialog was fantastic. We owe special thanks to Shelley Scott for presenting the implementation at Bell Aliant and to our two panelists, Greg Connors from Level 3 and Bob Carlock from Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative.

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Production Mapping for Emergency Management Maps template released!

We recently released the Production Mapping for Emergency Management Maps for ArcGIS 10 template on the Local Government Resource Center. This first release delivers several Esri Production Mapping cartographic capabilities for producing emergency management map products. Functionality in the template includes:

  • Views of the Public Safety Basemap and the map products, including an Incident Action Plan (IAP), Incident
    Briefing Map, and Hazard Map.

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Esri Acquires 3D Software Company Procedural


In case you missed it: we are very exciting to have the team from Procedural join the Esri family. Procedural’s CityEngine is one of the world’s most innovative 3D modeling and design software tools.

Official press release here.

More information on the road ahead, integration into ArcGIS, licensing, support and training will follow in the next couple of weeks.

Have a look at a preview of what CityEngine can do for ArcGIS users.

Exciting times ahead!

Gert van Maren

3D Product Manager


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BA10SP2 and the changes to Bing Search

by Kyle Watson

If you have installed the recently released Business Analyst Desktop 10 Service Pack 2 and use the Bing Search in your workflows, you may notice some differences in how results are returned.

Let me explain a couple of these changes and tell you how you can accomplish similar functionality elsewhere in ArcGIS… Continue reading

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Calculating Geodesic Distance Between Points

NOTE: Starting in ArcGIS Desktop 10.2.1, the proximity tools Near and Generate Near Table can measure geodesic distances, so there is no longer a need for the workaround below. You can learn more here:

Going back to the very early days of ArcGIS there have been geoprocessing tools for calculating distances between features. Tools like Near, Point Distance, and Buffer have been around for many releases, and perform key analysis in a number of common GIS workflows. These distance-measuring tools have always worked well and calculated very accurate distances for features concentrated in a relatively small area (a city, state, or single UTM zone) with an appropriate projected coordinate system that minimizes distance distortion. Unfortunately, for groups of features spread over larger areas (regions, countries, or the world!), or for datasets with a geographic coordinate system, these tools have historically produced results that were less than perfect.

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2011 Esri User Conference

A big thanks to all of the water, wastewater and stormwater ArcGIS users who spent time with us during the 2011 Esri User Conference and attended our Technical Workshops on ArcGIS for Water Utilities.  You gave us some very valuable feedback on the maps and apps that are part of ArcGIS for Water Utilities and we are aggregating that feedback now and will address it in a follow up blog.  Feedback from the user community is what drives our activities.

A common question we heard throughout the user conference was “what is the best way to give feedback on ArcGIS for Water Utilities”?  

The Water Utilities Forums is the place where we encourage you to give us feedback about the maps and apps that make up ArcGIS for Water Utilities.  We want to know what is working, what isn’t, how we can do things better and we very much appreciate you sharing your success stories around deploying ArcGIS for Water Utilities or it’s predecessor the Water Utility Templates.  You can also reach us at our email alias:

Ideas.ArcGIS.Com is the place to request enhancements to the ArcGIS System as well as ArcGIS for Water Utilities.  The more votes an idea gets, the easier it is for us to understand how big of a need it is for our water utility users.  Just be sure to tag your ideas with “Water and Wastewater” as well as any other appropriate descriptions.

Again, thank you to our water, wastewater and stormwater customers for making the 2011 Esri User Conference such a great experience for the Esri staff working with you!  

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ArcGIS Online at the UC 2011 Plenary – Part II

New capabilities in ArcGIS Online were highlighted during the opening plenary session at the recent Esri 2011 International User Conference. Here’s Part II of a two-part recap of what was shown.

The ArcGIS Online plenary presentation can be viewed online. To view the ArcGIS Online Part II demonstration covered here you can fast forward by advancing to the 23:00 minute mark in the video:

ArcGIS Online at the UC Plenary – Part II

Part I of our two-part post covered how ArcGIS Online can be used by anyone, along with new capabilities like adding spreadsheets (CSV files), KML, OGC WMS services, shapefiles, and more. But while it can be used by anyone, it’s also not just for individuals, but also for organizations.

Introduced during the plenary were some new capabilities (still in beta) available to organizations via a subscription. These include the ability for organizations to manage their user accounts, assign roles to individuals, create custom landing pages and galleries, and aleverage hosted services in the cloud for publishing maps, and more.

For organizations ArcGIS Online represents a complete, online geospatial platform that is configurable, secure, and gives organizations the capability to turn their data into web-accessible services. This enables any organization’s geospatial information to become more pervasive, within organizations or to the general public.

A sample organizational site was configured for the City of Louisville, Kentucky. Organizational users can easily configure and manage their own site, replacing Esri’s website. Shown below is the City of Louisville site with a unique own look and feel; users that are members of the organization will view this site after logging in. Note that the gallery ribbon is also specific to the organization.

Shown below is the featured map gallery for the organization. Instead of maps selected by Esri from the GIS community at-large, the maps displayed here are chosen by the organization and help the users within the organization get their work done.

The gallery, default map, and basemaps used by an organization can be easily configured in the administrator’s console, shown below. Access to content and sharing outside the organization can also be managed, so you can choose to make ArcGIS Online completely secure and private for your organization, or enable external access.

ArcGIS Online also supports all of the different users found within a typical organization, from GIS professionals to information workers, and from casual browsers of information, to managers and decision makers. All users can play a role in ArcGIS Online. Shown below are some of the administration tools that are used to govern the level of access and capabilities for various users in an organization:


Some users may be “view only” users, while others may be granted access to publish data directly to the organization’s hosted services. In addition, in the event of a position change or exit from the organization, all assets from one user can be transferred to others, so no content is lost.

Content is very important to an organization, and in Part I we saw the many different types of content that can be used, including spreadsheets, to make maps. However, when working with large amounts of data it is more efficient to publish the content as hosted services rather than just adding features to a map. Using hosted services available via organizational subscriptions, any data can be web-enabled for broader access and efficient publishing.

For example, in Part I we showed how a spreadsheet containing just under 1,000 features can be added directly to any map. But for larger numbers of features these are more efficiently published as hosted web services, which also enables them to be used in mashups.

The map below was made from a spreadsheet of 25,000 locations, and has been published as a feature service via the organization’s hosted service capabilities, without the need for any desktop software:

Most organizations already have ArcGIS, and use ArcMap as the way to create state-of-the-art maps. But once a map has been made there is often the challenge of making it more widely available. Organizations can leverage ArcGIS Online to publish services directly from ArcMap, making ArcGIS Desktop the dashboard for online publishing.

Shown in ArcMap below is recent flood data that the city would like published. In this case the user has been granted publishing rights via the organizational account. As soon as the user logs in the map can be published directly via hosted cloud services, eliminating the need to manage servers, hardware, and for direct IT department involvement. 

Choices can be made, if needed, about what kind of service is published (tiles or features), the projection and tiling scheme, and more. When publishing has completed, the user is notified and the web service is now ready to use.

Within an organizational account, the basemaps and the default basemap can be configured as desired. Shown below is the newly published flood data that has been mashed-up along with the city basemap and other services. Note the custom-configured basemap gallery:

In Part I we discussed and highlighted several templates that could be chosen from the map viewer template gallery. An organization can also configure the list of available templates, as shown below, to include templates for internal or external use (with the organization’s logo and branding) and also specialty templates.

These templates can also be extended to include additional capabilities, and can also be hosted in the organization’s cloud. The template used below performs a spatial analysis around critical parcels identified by the city, and delivers a report showing EPA regulated facilities nearby:

Groups can also be controlled and managed by the organization. Some groups may be for internal use only, others may make maps publicly available. The administrator can make decisions about how these are listed, and can review and control the content they contain.

In summary, ArcGIS Online provides a flexible, secure, and customizable geospatial platform for any organization, using hosted services and centralized management infrastructure. The result is that ArcGIS Online enables an organization’s geospatial assets to become more available where needed, and users more productive.

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Visualizing time-aware data in a web map

You may have heard that ArcGIS 10 is “time-aware”. This simply means that you can designate one or more fields in your data as containing date/time values, and then ArcGIS can play back the temporal progression of that data using a “time slider” bar. There are time sliders built into ArcMap and ArcGIS Online, but you can also add them to web apps that you build with JavaScript, Flex, or Silverlight. Showing the temporal progression of data like this was technically possible before ArcGIS 10, but it required a lot more coding.

To demonstrate one way that time-aware GIS data can be put in a web app, I created this JavaScript map of fish migration up the Columbia and Snake Rivers earlier this year. The dams along the river have fish ladders, where each fish is counted as it swims up the river. Visualizing the daily fish counts over time is an excellent way to see migration patterns. Take a few seconds to give the app a try.

Daily Fish Migration at Northwest US Dams

In this post I’ll explain a little about how I built this app and where you can get the code.

Getting the data and making it time-aware

The raw fish count data came from the Fish Passage Center website, Here I was able to download comma-separated value (CSV) files showing fish counts for each dam in 2011. These CSV files are similar to what you might be able to export from Microsoft Excel. To make this data work on a map, I also had to have the dam locations, so I created a point feature class and heads-up digitized each dam.

Digitized dams

Sometimes time-aware datasets are structured differently from traditional datasets you might use for a paper map. What I really needed for this web app was not one record for each dam, but rather, one record for each dam for each day. Thus, what looks like a simple dataset with only a handful of points, really contains over 800 records.

With a little bit of Python, I was able to read the fish counts out of the CSV files and write them as attributes for each dam for each day. Here’s a portion of the final table:

Attribute table of dams dataset

In order to make this type of data time-aware in ArcGIS, you have to add it to ArcMap. Then open the Layer Properties and click the Time tab. Here is where you tell ArcGIS about your dataset and how its time fields should be interpreted.

Time tab of Layer Properties dialog box

One of the first settings you need to choose is whether the layer has a single time field, or both start and end time fields. Some phenomena, like fish counts, are taken at one point in time and just have one field. Other things might have a field recording both the start and end time of an event, such as a wildfire that begins on June 9 and ends on June 13.

You can also indicate which field holds the time values, as well as the time extent and intervals that should be displayed in the time slider.

In my particular map, I wanted the same service to expose data about four fish types. So I made four copies of the layer, symbolized them with proportional symbols, and made them all time aware. Below is what the final map looked like. (It’s okay that all layers are turned on and overlap, because my app only requests one layer at a time from the map service.)

Map of dams in ArcMap before publishing

Exposing time-aware layers through a web service

At this point I was ready to publish the map as a service. I saved a map service definition (MSD) file (yes, these support time-aware layers) and published it to ArcGIS Server in the usual way. All of the time information saved in the map is accessible through the map service. You can verify this by looking at a layer in the Services Directory:

Time-aware properties viewed in the Services Directory

One easy way to view a time-aware map service is to add it to the map viewer (go to and click Map to get to this viewer). The viewer recognizes any time-aware services you add and automatically gives you a time slider. In my case, I wanted to go a little further and make my own web app with a time slider. I chose the ArcGIS API for JavaScript because I had a bit of previous experience with it, and my adjacent co-workers happen to know this API very well. (I can’t deny asking for the occasional hint!)

Building a time-aware web map with JavaScript

When you’re starting out with the ArcGIS web APIs, a good strategy is to find some of the online samples that do the things you want to do, combine them into an app, and then modify the result to fit your requirements. I decided I wanted to use elements from these two samples:

  • Overview map sample from the Layouts book. You’ll see this is where I got the overview map, color scheme, styling, and partitioning of the window.
  • Layer Definition sample from the Time book. This is where I got the time slider and the legend.

The fish counts update very quickly because the app uses client-side graphics to display them. In other words, the browser makes a request to the map service saying essentially: “Give me all the point vertices for the dams from April 17 – June 30, and their attributes. I’ll do the work of drawing them.” After the server sends the response, the browser can draw the points and their symbols without ever having to go back to the server for more information. Because I’m dealing with fewer than 1000 records, I don’t have to worry about hitting the map service’s default limit for how many features it will return, but at the same time I am not requesting an unreasonable number of points for the browser to display.

The key to displaying the graphics this easily is to use the FeatureLayer class. Here’s where I create it in my code:

var fishLayer = new esri.layers.FeatureLayer(initialFishLayerUrl, {
  mode: esri.layers.FeatureLayer.MODE_SNAPSHOT,
  outFields: ["*"]

When you connect a FeatureLayer to a TimeSlider, the time slider does all the work for you of requesting and displaying the appropriate features for the currently displayed time slice.

The time slider is a widget included with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript. To use it, I had to put the following at the top of my code:


Then, I had to create the time slider and set some properties on it, such as the thumb moving rate (how fast the slider plays) and whether the time slider should replay itself when it gets to the end (accomplished with the setLoop method).

// Create and configure the time slider
var timeSlider = new esri.dijit.TimeSlider({
}, dojo.byId("timeSliderDiv"));
var layerTimeExtent = results[0].layer.timeInfo.timeExtent;
timeSlider.createTimeStopsByTimeInterval(layerTimeExtent, 1, 'esriTimeUnitsDays');

If you use the time slider in the ArcGIS API s for Flex or Silverlight, you’ll see similar properties.

You can handle events on the time slider to control what happens when the “thumb” on the slider moves. The drawing of the fish counts is handled automatically, but I did add some code to change the date label that appears directly below the slider.

// Report the date whenever the time slider moves
dojo.connect(timeSlider, "onTimeExtentChange", function(timeExtent){
  dojo.byId("timeSliderLabel").innerHTML = dojo.string.substitute("<b>${startTime}, 2011</b>", timeExtent, function(val) {

      return, "hour", hourOffset), {
      selector: 'date',
      datePattern: 'MMM dd' //

The above code results in a label that changes as the slider moves:

Label that changes with the time slider

Conclusion and download link

This post has shown how you can start with raw tabular data and ultimately display it in a time-aware web application. The coding part is optional and can be eliminated if you want to use the time slider in ArcMap or in ArcGIS Online. However, because many of you may have to write similar types of web apps, I’ve made the complete application and a readme file available for download at

Contributed by Sterling Quinn of the ArcGIS Server software development team

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2011 User Conference wrap up — Analysis and Geoprocessing

We had a great time at the 2011 International User Conference.  It was a pleasure meeting those of you that attended.  Our technical sessions were full and our island was constantly busy. 

We’ve been uploading our technical session presentations to our Presentations page.  These presentations are .zip files in the Model and Script tool gallery and include the slide deck, data, documents, scripts, tools, and so forth used in our technical presentations.  (Note: some presentations may not include data due to distribution restrictions.) 

You should also visit the User Conference website.  From there, you can navigate to the  UC Proceedings where you can view/download materials from all sessions.

Be sure to revisit these sites as we’re not done uploading everything yet.

Finally, we rely on your session evaluations to improve our technical workshop sessions.  If you attended a session, you can fill out a session evaluation form by visiting


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ArcGIS for Local Government UC Wrap Up

We wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who attended our sessions at the UC last week.  The feedback we got was outstanding and we look forward to working with you in the near future.  

If you couldn’t make the UC Tech Workshops, we’ll try to get the video for the ArcGIS for Local Government: An Introduction Tech Workshop published on the Resource Center later this summer.  In the meantime, the presentation is attached to this blog post for reference.

We’re excited to incorporate what we learned at the conference in to our plans and we’d also like to take this opportunity to share with you our plans for the next 60 days (rest of the summer here in Michigan…).

New Maps and Apps:

We will be adding a series of maps and apps to the ArcGIS for Local Government offering.  They include:

Maps and Apps Gallery:  A web application that provides citizens a single gallery of maps and apps you’ve published for your organization. It also allows external developers who are leveraging your authoritative data to submit their apps for inclusion in your gallery.

Address Editing Map:  An editing map that helps planning, public safety, and land records organizations in local government maintain road centerlines w/ address ranges, site addresses, and related postal addresses.  

Service Request for HTML 5:  A HTML 5 application that allows citizens to submit non-emergency requests for service from a mobile phone, desktop computer or tablet device.

Community Planning: A web application that allows citizens to propose community master plan design alternatives.

Park Finder: A web application that allows citizens to find a park nearby, or list of parks that Offer recreation activities you’re interested in.

Sign Inspection: A universal iOS application that allows public works and DOT field staff to collect new street signs and conduct inspections on existing signs.

Campus Editing Map: An editing map that helps facility managers maintain interior spaces and exterior assets found on building grounds or a campus.

Campus Basemap:  A multi-scale basemap for facility managers that can be used as a backdrop for facility applications and to enhance content found in your local government basemaps.

Campus Room Finder: A web application that allows users to find an office, conference room, or other interior space in a building or among many buildings on a campus.

Easier to Deploy:

In addition to adding a new set of maps and apps, we will be taking several steps to make it easier for you to deploy ArcGIS for Local Government in your organization.  In doing so, look for:

Quarterly Releases: A consistent quarterly release schedule that includes new maps and apps, updates to existing maps and apps, and any bug fixes reported by users.  Our first quarterly release will be in October 2011.

On-premise Offering:  A single ArcGIS for Local Government download that is simple to install and configure.  This single download will replace the individual downloads on the Resource Center today.  It will also allow you to identify one or more ArcGIS for Local Government modules you’d like to deploy in your organization; and install the individual applications contained within each module.

Online Help:  An ArcGIS for Local Government online help system for users and partners deploying the system.

Partner Offerings:

Esri is committed to developing a community of partners who are actively engaged in selling and delivering ArcGIS for Local Government. It is through collaboration with its partner community that Esri best meets the needs of local government customers.

In order to make this collaboration with Partners repeatable and successful, Esri has created the ArcGIS for Local Government Specialty designation within the Esri Partner Network. It is designed for Partners who are focused on the local government marketplace and who want to work more closely with Esri.

Several Esri Partners approached the ArcGIS for Local Government team at the UC and are ready to add their applications to growing ecosystem.  We will be working with these partners to ensure the applications can be deployed with the Local Government Information Model and simply by users.  We look forward to highlighting the good work these partners are doing in local government.  

Thanks again for the tremendous feedback at the UC.  We were delighted that many of you took the time to attend the sessions we had.  As always, feel free to contact us with any specific feedback or questions you may have.

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