Finding map content can often be a challenge, even nowadays when so much content is available in ArcGIS Online. Recently, Charlie Fitzpatrick and I taught a a workshop entitled “Key Strategies for Finding Content and Understanding What You’ve Found.” The goal of this activity was to enable GIS-using educators and their students to understand what spatial analysis is, effectively find spatial data, use spatial data, and become familiar with the ArcGIS platform in the process. Based on discussions that take place in GeoNet and elsewhere about this topic, we would like to share it with the broader GIS community. The document is located here.
The document makes it clear that we are still in a hybrid world, where people still need to download data for some work in GIS, but increasingly they are can stream data from cloud-based data services such as those in ArcGIS Online. But these concepts make much more sense when one actually practices doing this–hence the activity.
In the activity, we ask the user to first practice search strategies in ArcGIS Online, using tags and keywords. Then, we guide the user through the process of downloading and using a CSV file with real-time data. After a brief review of data types and resources, we guide the user of the activity through the process of downloading data from a local government agency to solve a problem about flood hazards. The next step asks users to compare this process of downloading data with streaming the same data from the same local government’s site (in this case, Boulder County, Colorado) in ArcGIS Online. The activity concludes with resources to discover more about these methods of accessing data.
Other hands-on activities focused on this theme of finding and understanding data exist in the 10 activities included in the Esri Press book, The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, shown here, and in selected SpatiaLABS and LearnGIS lessons. I look forward to hearing your comments and we hope the activity is useful.
- Accessing data from the Boulder County local government GIS portal through the lesson described above.