Monthly Archives: June 2009

Routing Using ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online now includes collection of tasks, including geocoding, and a routing service that supports point-to-point and optimized routing for North America and Europe. It is available as a standard, no-cost service with a limit of 5,000 routes per year and as a fee-based service for each additional block of 5,000 routes, which can be used for commercial purposes. The network analyst extension is not required.

To begin, start ArcMap 9.3.1, turn on the StreetMap toolbar, and select “Find Route using online route services”
. Select the desired routing service for North America or Europe. The North America routing service, based on Tele Atlas 2008 data, enables the generation of routes and driving directions for the USA and Canada. Up to 25 route barriers may be included per request.

On the Find Route box, under the Stops tab, enter the stops along your proposed route. Up to 10 stops can be added from graphics or features. For the example above, I set up a lesson where students are the “new owners” of a double-decker, open-top Manhattan tour bus. They have to route the bus from St John the Divine Church, to Radio City, the New York Public Library, the Empire State Building, the House of Oldies in Greenwich Village, the Woolworth Building, the American Geographical Society on Wall Street, and return.

The 7 stops came from a comma-separated-value (.csv) file that I had geocoded using the ArcGIS Online geocoding service and saved as a shapefile. On the Options tab, add a graphic, add a callout, and save the route and the stops as shapefiles. Students compare the quickest (in yellow) and the shortest route (in blue) in terms of the map and the total distance traveled. Only the quickest route has the bus traveling through the Upper East Side of Manhattan. How does adding one stop, changing the order of stops, or adjusting the influence of local roads versus highways affect the final route?

Give the ArcGIS Online routing service a try in your classroom!

Joseph Kerski, Education Manager, ESRI.

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Yes, you can create mashups using ESRI software!

Have a look at this cool demo, presented by Jack Dangermond and Jeremy Bartley, at the recent Where 2.0 conference in San Jose.

The video resolution is rather poor, however you’ll get the idea.

Pay special attention to the demo part, starting at about minute 9.

If you are not a programmer, some of Jeremy’s presentation might sound like gibberish: Silverlight, Flex, JSON, REST interfaces, etc. But show this video to a programmer, especially one in the 15-30 year-old range, and you’ll like get a “cool!” kind of response.

A lot of people out there (GIS world) are under the impression that map mash-ups are necessarily wedded to Google Maps. Wow, demos such as this one show clearly how similarly interesting mash-ups can and are being created using “real” GIS software platforms. What’s the difference? Mainly, that there’s a huge collection of analysis capabilities behind the GIS-based mash-ups. Not simply pretty web maps.

Those of you attending the upcoming User Conference will see more of this, live!

- Mike Gould, Director of Higher Education

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Students compete at tech-geography crossroad

MACHIAS, Maine — More than 20 students from middle and high schools throughout the state participated in the first Maine State Geographic Information Systems Championship Finals at the University of Maine at Machias on Saturday, June 13.

The students, who were regional champions from preliminary events held earlier in the spring, convened on the UMM campus to demonstrate their geographic information systems and global positioning system skills, while competing for more than $3,000 in scholarship awards.

Read more online.

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Geocoding Using ArcGIS Online

Since 2008, ArcGIS Online maps have been helping educators and others with free, ready-made maps that can be used directly in ArcGIS Desktop. Did you know that tasks have recently joined these ArcGIS Online maps? For example, free online geocoding tools are available for your ArcGIS 9.2 and higher applications.

The geocoding and place finding capabilities are based on recent TeleAtlas data and support single address, reverse, and batch geocoding of up to 1,000 batch geocodes annually. For external commercial use of ArcGIS Online tasks or for more than 1,000 batch geocodes in a year, purchase a subscription.

To begin, start ArcMap, use the Tools menu, point to Geocoding, and select “Address Locator Manager.” Next, select “Add” in the Address Locator Manager dialog box. Under the “Look in” section, select GIS Servers, click “Add ArcGIS Server”, and then select Add. In the “Add ArcGIS Server” wizard, select “Use GIS Services”; then “Next.” Select Internet and enter the following ArcGIS Server URL: Click “Finish.” In the ArcGIS Server list, select “arcgis on” and “Add.” Select the Locators folder; then select “Add.” Select the locator you want to add to the ArcMap document (World Places, Europe addresses, or North American addresses), and select “Close.”

Next, geocode your addresses using the Tools, Geocode Addresses command. I created an address dataset for landmarks in a metropolitan area in comma separated value (csv) format, and then used Tools, Geocode Addresses. I was very pleased with a first-pass success rate of a 97%, and then resolved the 3 “ties.” I used [field1] &vbnewline & [field2] to stack the labels.

In what city are these addresses now geocoded? Think of other patterns that you could analyze using this geocoding service. How would the distribution of middle school students compare to those in university? Would this week’s crimes in a certain city display a pattern? What pattern do stores selling musical instruments in your community have?

For more instructions on using ArcGIS Online locators, examine Managing address locators in ArcMap in ArcGIS Desktop Help.

Joseph Kerski, Education Manager, ESRI.

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Career Corner TV Syndicates ESRI GIS Career Videos

ESRI extended its GIS career education and promotion through Web 2.0 social media distribution of four GIS careers – conservationist, helicopter pilot, GIS manager and health geographer. Students and job seekers can now find these GIS career profiles virtually anywhere they are on the Web. The videos have been distributed and optimized on dozens of video hosting sites. Go to YouTube, Veoh, Yahoo, MSN and you’ll find GIS careers. Go to Blinkx, Google, MetaCafe, Revver and you’ll find the videos. In fact the videos can be found on about 40 different video destinations. Making it easy to find those videos will help students explore GIS careers.

The GIS videos have been distributed on the “Career Corner Video Network.” Here are some links to them.

Video search engine results:

Selected individual destinations:

To see added content be sure to explore the videos on

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Geography for Life, 2nd Edition Public Review and Comment

Since the fall of 2007, the Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP) Standards Content Committee has been reviewing and preparing the second edition of Geography for Life: National Geography Standards. The second edition work is focused on reviewing the Six Essential Elements and 18 Standards with special emphasis on updating the knowledge statements, student performance statements, and exemplars that accompany each of the 18 Standards to clarify both their content and pedagogy. The updated draft document has been reviewed by both academic geographers and cognition and learning science experts. A second round of review will be done by people such as grade level experts including classroom teachers, curriculum developers, and preservice higher education faculty.

The current draft version of Geography for Life, 2nd Edition is now available for public review and comment. The draft contains the updated Standards including brief introductory essays, a section for parents, and a glossary for review. The draft will be available for public comment from June 15th to July 15th. Comments received by July 15, 2009 will be reviewed by the GENIP Standards Content Committee. The draft PDF document can be downloaded from the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) web site ( For more information, please contact Susan Gallagher at

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Students go high-tech to map disaster shelters

While other ninth-graders were using their computers for homework or video games, students at Pearl-Cohn spent the past year using high-tech mapping software to plot the position of every Red Cross Emergency Shelter in Nashville.

Read more.

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The World’s Most Remote Island Group: Hawaii?

In a separate blog post at the ESRI Education Community, I investigated a claim that Bouvet Island is the world’s most remote uninhabited island using ArcGIS. At the same time, I mentioned that the definition of “remoteness” is subjective and therefore makes for an excellent classroom discussion and for investigation using GIS.

If you’ve flown to Hawaii, you may have been amazed at long the flight is, and wondered whether Hawaii is halfway across the Pacific Ocean. The Hawaiian Islands is the world’s most remote island chain with a sizeable population, estimated at 1.288 million in 2008 (US Census Bureau). Honolulu is the most remote major city over 500,000 population, because the nearest city of equal or greater size is San Francisco, 3,841 km distant.

Using ArcGIS and data from Book 2 of the Our World GIS Education series from ESRI Press, I set the data frame to Orthographic, centered near Maui at 21 North Latitude and 156 West Longitude so that I could see most of the Pacific Ocean on the map image.

Which is closer to Hawaii—California or southwest Alaska? Using the circle tool, above, I found out that these two are just about the same distance away—3,515 km. This is approximate as the measure tool was used at a small scale.

Is Hawaii halfway across the ocean? A visual assessment shows that this depends on the point at which one measures, for the Hawaiian Islands extend for hundreds of kilometers—over 1,000 including the seamounts. The southeastern inhabited Hawaiian islands are not quite halfway across the ocean: I measured with ArcGIS about 4,800 km from Hawaii to the nearest point on the Asian continent at Kamchatka, and 5,800 to Australia. Vladivostok (5,500 km) and Shanghai (6,400 km) are both farther than Kamchatka, and all are farther than North America.

A discussion about map projections, distances, and error is most appropriate here, because the measurements differ by up to 1,000 km depending on the map projection used. Try these tools to investigate other islands!

- Joseph Kerski, Education Manager, ESRI.

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Mapping a better world

Software: Interest groups around the world are using mapping tools and internet-based information sources to campaign for change.

“For most people it is merely a handy tool to find a nearby pizzeria or get directions to a meeting. But mapping technology has matured into a tool for social justice.”

Full story at the

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ESRI supports European GI Science at AGILE 2009

These past days (June 2-5) ESRI supported and attended the 12th annual AGILE Conference on Geographic Information Science, held at Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany. The conference was held in conjunction with an ISPRS workshop on high-resolution Earth imaging, making for even larger group of GI experts than usual.

In addition to participating in pre-conference workshops on the European Qualification Framework and Body of Knowledge (BoK) project and on Economic Value of Geoinformation, ESRI sponsored the attendance of 15 young researchers at the conference, coming from places like Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, China, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, etc. During the event ESRI-Europe manager Frank Holsmuller and ESRI Inc. education director Michael Gould met with the students over lunch to discuss their on-going and future research interests. Most impressive was the critical mass of students developing software as part of their research. They were actively encouraged to consider joining their software with base ESRI software via the numerous API frameworks now available.

ESRI Press also was present at the AGILE 2009 conference, to present samples of the 2009 catalogue of GI books.

As in past years at the AGILE conferences, ESRI also sponsored the AGILE “best poster” and “best paper” awards. Winners were chosen by a voting process of their peers attending the conference.

The best poster award was given to Judith Milde (pictured) and Claus Brenner, of the host university (!) for a nicely developed poster called “Graph-based modeling of building roofs”.

The best paper award was given to paper presenter Rodrigo Silveira (Univ. Utrecht) and several coauthors from other institutions, for their paper “Detecting hotspots in Geographic Networks”. The paper outlines details of new algorithms for heuristic solutions to special point pattern cases in networks, such as identifying so-called hot spots for traffic accidents or other events. This paper, as well as those of the other 3 finalists and 20 other top-rated papers, are published in a Springer book “Advances in GI Science” (ISBN 978-3-642-00317-2).

Congratulations to the best poster and best paper winners!

Also congratulations to AGILE and to the local organizers for a well-run conference, with over 230 attendees, a strong program, and great social interaction.

See you at AGILE 2010 in Portugal!

- Mike Gould, Director of Higher Education

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