Tag: GeoRSS

Mapping NOAA's incident responses via GeoRSS


NOAA’s IncidentNews website provides information about oil and hazardous material spills where NOAA has been involved in the response. The website is maintained by NOAA’s Emergency Response Division (ERD) and includes a GeoRSS feed that you can connect to using ArcGIS Explorer Desktop to map and learn more about recent events. Let’s take a closer look at how to use the feed.


At the website you’ll find a list of recent events; click an event to learn more about it. At the time we’re writing this post the latest event is a disabled ship carrying 98,000 gallons of fuel oil, and 2,800 gallons of diesel fuel near the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. NOAA was contacted for a trajectory analysis for a potential release of oil later today.



Wanting to map the incidents, we discovered the Newsfeed section with both Atom and RSS feeds.



To connect to the feed right-click to copy the link (either link will do), and in Explorer Desktop click Add Content, then GIS Services…



Click New Server Connection



Then choose GeoRSS from the drop-down list:



Paste the feed URL into the connection input box. Since the feed is dynamic, we decided to have it automatically refresh. Below we chose to trigger a refresh of the feed every 10 minutes:



Once connected, you can edit the layer properties to change the name, symbol, and more. Here’s our map showing the disabled ship off the Oregon coast with information about the incident from the feed displayed in the popup window.



For more information see the Subscribe to GeoRSS feeds help topic.


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ArcGIS API for JavaScript Tips-n-Tricks: Parsing GeoRSS with jQuery

There are quite a few reasons why GeoRSS feeds can be tricky to parse. The reasons include confusing child-parent tag relationships, and some parsers simply don’t work with namespaces (e.g. <geo:lat>) depending on which browser you are using. This is where jQuery comes in very handy, especially if you want your app to function well across the major browsers. The pattern that you can use looks like this:

//Look for the tag <geo:lat> 

Feel free to click here to see a live example and view the source code. Or just download the source and try it out on your machine.



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Exploring the Arkansas Earthquake Swarm

Checking out a few tweets this evening I noticed this one from the USGS:

I followed the tweeted link to more details about the recent earthquake swarm in Arkansas, and went to the data and feeds page to make my own map. I made my first map by opening the KML file in ArcGIS Explorer Desktop, shown below.


The great thing about opening the KML in Explorer vs. Google Earth is that I could choose from many different basemaps, or combine other ArcGIS Online services like population density (shown below) to see how many folks were close by. From the population density l discovered that the population density near the quake cluster is very low.

I also used the buffer tool (found in the Analysis Gallery)


to create several radii to see how far away the smaller quakes were to the largest quake, a 4.0 shown in red. I created 3, 4, and 5 mile rings and discovered that most of the swarm was within 4 miles of the epicenter of the largest quake.

Since I wanted to keep an eye on the swarm, I decided to add the GeoRSS feed which is dynamic, and continually updated. To add the feed I clicked Add Content and chose GIS Services:

Then chose GeoRSS as the service type:

And entered the URL I found at the USGS website for the feed:

Next I chose the update interval, and since I wanted to view the latest earthquakes each time I opened the map, I toggled the second option. I could also have set the update to refresh periodically. Below is the GeoRSS feed shown in my map.

For more information check out these help topics:

Subscribe to GeoRSS feeds

Add KML files




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GeoRSS Feeds in ArcGIS

As access to real-time data becomes quicker, easier
and cheaper we’re going to need ways to consume and view it.  One example
is GeoRSS, where a service is hosted (like the USGS) that gives you a
formatted .xml file with coordinates and attributes.  There are many
web-based applications for reading in these feeds (SilverLight, Flex, and
JavaScript API’s for example) but I want to view this data in ArcMap natively,
query it and use it in my analysis.  

To accomplish this task it’ll require the use of the
Data Interoperability Extension for ArcGIS and access to a GeoRSS service.
 For this purpose, I’ll be using the USGS real-time worldwide
earthquake listing here.

The first thing I need to do is add a new
Interoperability Connection in ArcCatalog by double clicking on Add
Interoperability Connection;


Then, click on the ellipses button next to the Format
and browse to GeoRSS/RSS Feed;



Copy/Paste the GeoRSS link into the dataset dialog;



*Note* You can also
change some parameters of how the feed is parsed out by clicking on the
Parameters button.

Once the connection is created you can simply drag and
drop the Entry Point layer into the data frame of ArcMap to view the


Once in ArcMap you can symbolize the data as you see
fit and begin to query and analyze the data;


*Note* To handle data updates the data frame must be refreshed in order for the layer to call the service for new information.

Questions?  Comments?  Please post them below in the comments section of the blog.

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Social media and geo-services: ArcGIS Explorer and disaster modeling for Haiti

A new video has been posted on the ESRI YouTube channel that provides an example of social networking and feeds integrated using ArcGIS Explorer to look at the recent Haiti disaster.

The video illustrates how to use ArcGIS Explorer, the Twitter Add-in, and a number of GeoRSS feeds to build a real-time model of the disaster situation in Haiti.

Check out the recent post on the ArcGIS Developer blog to learn more.

The Twitter add-in can be found in the ArcGIS Explorer Labs group on ArcGIS Online.

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Social Media and Geo-Services: Real-time modeling of the disaster situation in Haiti

During recent disasters and major events, we’ve seen more and more that communities and agencies are adopting social media as an important channel for sharing information. This has perhaps never been more powerfully demonstrated than in the case of the Haiti earthquake.

Monitoring Social Media streams

One of the social media tools being used heavily in the Haiti disaster relief effort is Twitter. Just by monitoring keywords such as “haiti” and “earthquake” at search.twitter.com, we can see how it’s being used: requests for personal assistance, connectivity and outage notifications for telecommunication and utility services, relief effort status updates, missing person broadcasts, sharing pictures, and of course support agencies (and others) broadcasting donation information. 

Many Twitter messages also include links to other social media sites such as Flickr and YouTube, so different types of media, news and information can be shared across all of these networks and around the world very quickly.

The value of Geolocation

By adding geolocation to social media, or by consuming services that provide geolocation information, we can use GIS to build a visual model of what’s happening in real-time (or at least close to real-time). For example, geotagged or geocoded Twitter messages can be added to the map to determine exactly what is happening and where.  Flickr and YouTube provide GeoRSS feeds that allow you to add the latest images and videos to the map for a specific location. Other geo-services such as the USGS feed of recent earthquake activity can also be added to the map to help identify the areas that have been impacted the most. 

When we put all of these services together, we can start to build a powerful model of what’s happening in real-time.

Messages from Haiti

[ Click here for a full-size image ]

This video illustrates how you can use ArcGIS Explorer, the Twitter Add-in, social media and other services to build this type of model.

Links and more Information

Although this example is for Haiti, because social media and geo-services are constantly being updated, it’s possible to build a model like this for almost any disaster situation.  

Here’s a list of what was used in this scenario:


Data sources and feeds

Please share any similar work with us in the comments, Resource Centers or ArcGIS Online, or leave a comment linking to examples you’ve shared elsewhere.

Visit ESRI’s disaster response and assistance site to request help and locate other resources or to contact the ESRI Disaster Coordination team.

- Nick & AL

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Exploring more earthquakes (let me count the ways)

This morning we awoke to the local news and reports of a big quake near Tonga, and also a couple of other sizable quakes near Sacramento. So we thought this might be a good excuse to explore several ways you can look at earthquake information using ArcGIS Explorer.

First, we went to the USGS earthquake site where we found a variety of earthquake information available in a number of different formats. As we looked at things we noticed that (as usual) there’s a lot of activity in Alaska and along the Kenai Peninsula. While we could have viewed things on the globe, we toggled ArcGIS Explorer to 2D mode then set our map projection to UTM Zone 6.

We first took a look at the KML found on the USGS site in Explorer.

We found a link to a time series KML in the popup window of the above KML, and took a look at that. Here we’ve pulled out the Explorer time slider to show the entire date range from 2007 to current.

Next we downloaded the .csv file, and added it to ArcGIS Explorer using Add Content, then choosing text files. By adding from the .csv file we could choose from a variety of attributes to display in the popup window.

Using the same text file from above we opened it in ArcCatalog as a feature class, creating a shapefile, and set the projection to WGS84 (the same as the input lat/long coordinates).

In ArcMap we used graduated symbols to show the quake events in different sizes and colors. Using the layer properties we turned off some fields and created aliases for others, then toggled on the HTML popup property. And then we exported it as a layer package which we added to ArcGIS Explorer.

And finally we connected to the GeoRSS feed to view the dynamic live feed from the USGS.

So that makes 5 ways that we used the data available from the USGS.

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Three ways to view a good shaker

Well, we were sitting around this evening wondering what our first post for 2009 would be, when the answer came in the form of a little roller coaster ride, thanks to an earthquake whose epicenter was just 6 miles from ESRI. We’ve covered earthquakes here on the blog plenty of times before, so we thought we’d do something a little different and take a look at the USGS earthquake data in 3 different ways as it’s published at the USGS site.

First we viewed the GeoRSS feed. The connection was already stored in our list of connections since we’ve used that GeoRSS feed before. We just opened up the connection by choosing File > Open, and then choosing Servers in the Open Content dialog. Once we did, we could just scroll down the list of our remembered connections to find the quake feed to view it.

The feed displays all the quakes greater than magnitude 2.5 over the past day. We also used Find Address to locate ESRI, and used Measure to determine the distance from ESRI to the epicenter of the quake, which was just under 7 miles.

Next we opened the KML published on the USGS site showing all quakes greater than 1.0 in magnitude over the past 7 days. Note the display overlay in the upper left that came along with the KML, and the small aftershock (1.7 magnitude) located within a half mile of the initial temblor.

Finally we opened the USGS quake data delivered as a comma-delimited text file. We clicked on its link at the USGS site to view it in a browser, and this is what we saw:

We saved the file out as a text file, and took a look at it using Notepad. The first line in the file had field names, which was just perfect, but we had to do some minor edits to pull in the information the way we wanted. We removed quotation marks (using a global search and replace with a space) from around a combined day/date/time field, and added the extra field names to match the new formatting on the first line. We saved the file, then chose Tools > Import File to open the file import wizard.

In the first dialog we just accepted the defaults. Note the data preview panel at the bottom of this dialog which shows us how the text file is being parsed. This was especially useful since we could verify that we correctly made the edits to the file mentioned above.

After clicking Next, in the following dialog we again accepted all the defaults (the latitude and longitude fields were already found, since they had been named “lat” and “lon” in the text file) and chose “Magnitude” as the title field (so we could view it as we hovered over the location with our mouse) and “Region” as the description field.

Then we chose a symbol, and here’s our map with the quake information imported from the text file.

This file contains all the magnitude 1.0 or greater quakes for the last day, and you can see there’s been lots of activity in southern California during that time period.

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SPOT satellite messenger, Yahoo! Pipes, and ArcGIS Explorer

(post submitted by Adam Pittman, ESRI San Antonio)

In Big Bend National Park cell phone reception is scarce.  To keep friends and family from worrying about me on last weekend’s camping trip I decided to use ArcGIS Explorer to enable them to keep a watchful eye on my status.  Using my SPOT satellite messenger I can send progress reports directly from anywhere in the world from any location that has a clear view of the sky.  SPOT maintains this web service tracking my location as an exposed XML file. 

We can’t bring this XML file directly into ArcGIS Explorer without writing a custom task, and I wanted a simple solution. So I used Yahoo Pipes to aggregate and massage this feed into a format I could use directly in ArcGIS Explorer.  Yahoo! Pipes is a free composition tool allowing you to collect and translate content from the web, and includes many examples you can start from. I found an example SPOT messenger pipe that I used. 

This pipe collects the XML information and converts it into a consumable format, in my case GeoRSS. 


To consume this service with ArcGIS Explorer all I needed to do is add it as a GeoRSS feed. 

If I set the layer to automatically update I can see new SPOT locations automatically in ArcGIS Explorer, letting users know exactly where I am.  By combining this service with other content, including the content available at the ArcGIS Explorer Resource Center, my friends and family can not only know where I am, but also know what the weather is and what my surroundings look like.

Here’s my tour of Big Bend using Yahoo! pipes and the SPOT messenger service in ArcGIS Explorer.

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The Great California ShakeOut

Today at 10:00 a.m. PST marked the official beginning of the Great California ShakeOut. According to the Great Southern California ShakeOut site site the event will bring together millions of people throughout Southern California in the ShakeOut drill, the largest earthquake preparedness activity in U.S. history. The scenario depicts a magnitude 7.8 quake striking the southern San Andreas fault, and stretching north 190 miles.

One of the event sponsors is the USGS, and according to the USGS ShakeOut site the earthquake would kill 1,800 people, injure 50,000, cause $200 billion in damage, and have long-lasting social and economic consequences. The USGS site includes content and a list of resources that you can use to find data for use with ArcGIS Explorer.

We followed links at the USGS site to the USGS Land Cover Institute site where we downloaded a geotiff of the Southern California landcover from the USGS Seamless Server. The landcover shows urbanized areas, and so is an indicator of population. 

We added the NLCD data to our map by going to File > Open, then choosing Rasters as our content type and adding the file we’d just downloaded. We adjusted the transparency of this layer a bit by highlighting it in the contents, and then right-clicking to choose the transparency tool. 

This newly added layer was on top of others in our contents, and to add some additional context we moved the transportation layer on top using Manage Layers (Tools > Manage Layers).

Here’s what our greater Redlands, California, area map looked like.

Next, we connected to the USGS earthquake magnitude 2.5 and greater GeoRSS feed. To do this we went to the USGS earthquake feeds site, and looked for the list of feeds.

We clicked the link for M 2.5+ earthquakes over the past 7 days and copied the URL. We added this feed to our map by going to File > Open and choosing Servers. At the top we clicked the GeoRSS connection, and pasted the URL into the Server input.

After we added the feed to our map, we discovered that on this ShakeOut day we’ve had a couple of recent temblors. Opening the popup on the feed event we can obtain additional information from the USGS site, and discover that the closest quake was a 2.8 just southeast of ESRI that took place last night shortly after 11:00 p.m.

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