Tag Archives: ArcGIS Explorer Online

Comparing the Spatial Distribution of Two Different Types of Businesses in a Metropolitan Area

Analyzing the location of businesses is a powerful way to foster spatial thinking and skills in GIS. A new activity in the ArcLessons library invites you to compare the distribution of two very different types of businesses—bail bonds and car washes, in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

Businesses are located in specific areas to reach specific customers locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally. They are located where they are because of physical or intangible local or regional benefits, such as a skilled labor force, the presence of or lack of competition, access to busy streets or regional transportation networks, or to take advantage of local suppliers or distributors. They are constrained in their location from local zoning laws and costs of doing business. Their locations may reveal specific patterns or exhibit no pattern at all.

This activity uses ArcGIS Online. A web browser is the only software required, with a broadband Internet connection. This lesson can be completed in 2 class periods, but additional investigations can cover multiple class periods. This lesson can be used with secondary or university level students with little or no GIS experience, but does rely upon spatial thinking and the geographic perspective.

To access the activity, visit ArcGIS Online. Search for “car wash owner:jjkerski”. Open the Oklahoma City bail bond and car wash map in the ArcGIS.com map viewer, or go directly to the map at this URL.

Compare the pattern of bail bonds and car washes and discuss the reasons these business locate where they do, and the patterns that exist. What influence does the location of the Oklahoma County detention center have on the location of the bail bond services?

Say you were establishing a new bail bonds service or car wash business. What are the three most important factors influencing your chosen location? Select the three best locations for your bail bonds and car wash businesses in Oklahoma City, and indicate the reasons why you have selected the locations you chose using the presentation mode in ArcGIS Online.

The data were gathered from an online directory, read into a comma-delimited database, and uploaded into ArcGIS Online. Using these techniques, map additional businesses in Oklahoma City, such as stores for flowers, home improvement, bicycles, boutique clothing, gas stations, and even schools or libraries. Compare and contrast the resulting patterns.

Compare the population of Oklahoma City to the population of three other cities and towns of your choosing. Conduct research into the types of businesses in those other towns. Determine how large a town has to be to support specific businesses, such as big box hardware stores, restaurant supply stores, or specific business names, such as Dairy Queen vs. Applebee’s, Ace vs. Home Depot, and the like. Why do certain businesses locate in certain sized communities? Compare bail bonds vs. car washes in different cities that have roughly the same number of people to the pattern and number you discovered in Oklahoma City. Compare the number and pattern of businesses in smaller cities and towns to that of Oklahoma City. Why do the differences exist?

Besides total population, the demographic makeup of the population is also important. These factors include household income, ethnicity, educational achievement, age, and other factors. Find and add some of these variables to your Oklahoma City map or map of another city you are investigating. What influence do these factors have on your investigated businesses? Why? Name a business, for example, where the median age of a city is important, and another business where age is not a factor. Do the same for other variables.

How has the spatial perspective and GIS helped you to understand the location of businesses?

- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager

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Bicentennial of the New Madrid Earthquakes: Seismic Calamity along the Mississippi

On December 16, 1811 a violent earthquake shattered a winter night along the Mississippi River Valley in an area of present-day northeast Arkansas. While the region was sparsely settled at the time, the local European and Native American inhabitants were being introduced to what would only be the beginning of a nightmarish winter framed by the mid-December occurrence, followed by another main event in late January, and an even more fierce temblor in early February centered outside the village of New Madrid in the Bootheel of present-day Missouri. The community was effectively destroyed, while in St. Louis, over 150 miles upriver, houses were severely damaged with chimneys crashing down. All of the principal shocks were felt far to the east with amazing reports coming from cities as far away as Boston and Toronto. In between and into the spring, numerous aftershocks were triggered and felt. Together, these were the largest earthquakes to have occurred since European settlement east of the Rocky Mountains in the US and Canada.

I grew up near this region and have experienced first-hand what can happen in this seismically active area. A few years ago, I created a blog series and a map project using ArcGIS Explorer Desktop to examine some aspects of the region. My work then was triggered by a sizeable event in the spring of 2008 in southern Illinois. Today’s blog post draws a bit from that series but its main purpose is to highlight a new map I’ve been building using ArcGIS Explorer Online, a growing array of map services found in ArcGIS Online, and some CSV files I crafted and added to my map. Not surprising, the map is focused on the Bicentennial of the New Madrid Earthquakes.

Rather than describe the specifics of what the map contains, I have instead added that information as “metadata” and discussion at the map’s storage location in ArcGIS Online, as well as links to some USGS resources. Here’s a mini-URL that you can share, www.esriurl.com/NewMadrid. Once you are at the site, open the map in either the default option, Explorer Online, or the ArcGIS.com mapviewer. Also, rather than take you on a guided tour, here instead are a couple of screenshots of what you’ll discover.

Historical earthquakes and recent events

Historical earthquakes and nearby populated places

Please feel free to augment what I have done and save your own version of the map by logging in with your Esri Global Account, doing a “save as,” and share the new map. If you do craft your version, be sure to add your own description and other information for other users.

Also, remember the New Madrid Seismic Zone and similar zones in the Central US are active. Be sure to examine current population densities in these areas to begin to understand the human risk in a region not immediately recognized as a hazardous area.

Lastly, stay tuned for an Esri Map Story on this topic later this week.

- George Dailey, Co-Manager, Esri Education Program Manager

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Explore Your Community: It’s Local to Global to Local…

As you celebrate Geography Awareness Week and its theme, “Geography: The Adventure in Your Community,” take time to recognize the scale associated with the term “community”—from the intimate geographies of your local neighborhood, and your favorite places to explore there, to the Earth and the treasures and issues it holds for the current 7 billion human inhabitants living on it, and the stories we all share.

Esri, through the lens of several of our colleagues, Allen Carroll (former chief cartographer at National Geographic) and others, has created a place on the Web where Map Stories covering the range of geographies are coming to life and light. These geostories seek to relate to important issues of the moment and others that speak to more enduring, and at times, dismaying topics.

One Map Story that communicates the beauty of our human experience and the planet upon which we depend invites you to explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The nearly 1,000 locations around the world are a mix of cultural and natural areas and features of outstanding value and importance to past, present, and future generations. While individual locations may be half-a-world away from where you are, others are near and dear to our hearts here in the United States such as the Olympic National Park that I explored with my wife this summer, or the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site about 10 miles from where I grew up in Illinois.

Another way to explore the UNESCO data is by using the Web map in the ArcGIS Online Map Stories group that Allen and colleagues have set up. Using the Web map I can expand on the focused Map Story content, change basemaps, and begin to add my own data while highlighting UNESCO sites such as two I have had the opportunity to hike and be inspired by—Uluru and Kata Tjuta, southwest of Alice Springs, Australia.

It’s also important to recognize that these nearly 1,000 locations spread across the expanse of the Earth represent but a sliver of the numerous places that help describe and sustain us as a curious species. There are similarly endowed human-formed and natural locations closer to home for each of us. Consider exploring the UNESCO global representative sample and then identify and map sacred places of importance to you. Explore, protect, and share them with others in your community, whatever its size.

- George Dailey, Esri Education Manager

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A Special Event Told Using Maps and Multimedia: Race for the Cure

This past weekend, I joined 50,000 people in Denver and many more across the country who walked and ran for the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s “Race for the Cure” event to raise funds for bre ast cancer research. The Esri Denver team wore tie-dyed t-shirts sporting our name “Mapping for the Cure.” We were 21 people strong, raising over $1,100 and counting. More importantly, the Denver event raised over $3 million. About 3,000 of the marchers were cancer survivors. I was marching in memory of my friend, a teacher, who passed away a few years ago. I marched with her wonderful family and friends, so it was quite an emotional experience. As awareness and treatment improves, we have good reason for hope. However, as all of have been most likely impacted by someone with this disease, a great deal more needs to be done before it is eradicated.

I decided to map the route of the Race for the Cure using ArcGIS Online. ArcGIS Online provides an excellent means of telling a story through WebGIS maps. I took pictures and video on the 5 kilometer route, and I uploaded those pictures and videos to public websites, hyperlinking them to points that I created easily along the route. I added a few pieces of text describing what was happening at each stage of the route. If I wanted to, I could create a presentation using ArcGIS Explorer Online and tell my story using a series of interactive slides. The results of my map are shown here. See if you can find the loop we walked on that, from above, looks like the ribbon symbol that the Komen Foundation has made famous. We did “the wave” on this loop that you can see in the linked video, and felt solidarity and hope all along the route.

What story would you like to tell using ArcGIS Online?

- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager.

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Geoadventure: The Olympic Peninsula

A few weeks ago, we left the sweltering heat of Dallas to embrace the sublime coolness of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. What we found was beyond our expectations—ocean, sea stacks, fog-shrouded capes, rainforests, waterfalls, and lavender fields…to name a few of the delights. We also discovered the land of the Twilight series (Forks and Port Angeles). During our 5-day stay I was armed with GPS receiver, camera, and smartphone for Web research and discovery. Across the journey, I collected location data, images, and some Web references…but most importantly enjoyed the moment.

Back home, I decided to bring some of this geoadventure to life via ArcGIS Online and Explorer Online, and share this magical place with others.

I knew what I wanted in the end—an interactive map with some key locations marked, and photographic and Web content associated with each. Working backwards meant I needed to first get my photos into a location that I could easily reference—my Flickr account. Next, I needed to create a simple database (CSV) for these special locations. The data became a synthesis of GPS coordinates, some place characteristics, and URL links—Flickr photos and Wikipedia references. Here’s the finished product.

With these steps completed, I went to ArcGIS.com, logged into my Esri Global account, and then launched ArcGIS Explorer Online. Zooming in on the peninsula, I changed my basemap to work better with the point symbols I wanted to use. From there, I simply dragged and dropped the CSV and in a matter of moments “my” map was populated with “my” data.

At that stage, I modified the symbols for the two “types” of content the point data would lead to—photos and places. (Note the “type” attribute in the CSV.) Steps: Click far right side of layer > Layer Details > Configure Display > Unique Values > Attribute = Type. I then selected and sized the icons of choice. Finally, I saved the project—creating metadata about the map and then sharing it for others to explore.

Here’s one view of my geoadventure including my Flickr photo of what I think was the highlight location of the whole trip—Sol Duc Falls in the Olympic National Park.

Enjoy and explore the geoadventure map I’ve started (www.esriurl.com/geooly) …and then create your own.

- George Dailey, Co-Manager, Esri GIS in Schools Program

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Up, Up, and Away with Web GIS

California Ballooning
Many great new features have been added to the mapping tools (ArcGIS Explorer Online and the ArcGIS.com map viewer) found at ArcGIS.com over the summer.  For example, we can now easily map tracklogs created by GPS units and smartphones, save, and share.

 On a recent summer trip, I was fortunate to ride in a hot balloon in northern California.  The first thing I did?  I turned on my smartphone GPS application of course!  I used Motion-X GPS to capture my position in a tracklog.  Motion-X GPS is a great smartphone application but any similar app will do. Throughout the balloon ride the smartphone was tracking my position and when we landed, I stopped the recording and emailed myself a copy of my route in a GPX format.

At my desk, I used a browser to go to the ArcGIS.com map viewer.  Pressing the “Add” button and selecting “Add Layer from File” is all I needed to do.  I located the GPX file that I saved to my computer and voila!

What a great way for students to share summer trips!  Even fall trips to the zoo, public gardens, parks, or nature centers would make for a great map-based story.  Or used as-is, this trip makes for an interesting way to start  exploring northern California’s agriculture.  We floated over tomatoes, sunflowers, soy, and more.  Try leveraging high-resolution imagery as a basemap beneath the balloon’s path.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a link to the original GPX file of my balloon ride. Try recreating and improving upon my map. Notice there’s even an elevation field in the GPX file which could be a very nice addition to the map. Post links to your trip and story maps below!

- Tom Baker, Esri Education Programs Manager

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New Series of GPS-to-GIS Videos

I have created a new series of videos on the Esri Education Team’s YouTube Channel and on my geography channel that describes the process of gathering field data with GPS and mapping and analyzing it with GIS in educational contexts. The videos feature explanations and demonstrations not only on the technical procedures involved with gathering data on locations and characteristics of data and then analyzing its spatial patterns, but also the pedagogical advantages to using these technologies within the context of spatial thinking in instruction. In short, they focus not only the “hows”, but also the “whys”.

Topics covered are suitable for all levels of education, formal and informal, in multiple disciplines ranging from environmental studies to geography, history, mathematics, and earth and biological sciences. The videos span multiple tools, from the Minnesota DNR Garmin program to ArcGIS desktop, ArcGIS Explorer, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS Explorer Online. The videos span multiple methodologies and discuss the merits of each. For example, one discussion illustrates the advantages of keying in field data and coordinates versus cabling the information to a computer, and the advantages of linking maps to multimedia taken from a standard camera versus that taken from a smartphone. Embedded throughout the series are issues of data and project management, scale, accuracy, precision, metadata, and appropriateness. At present, the videos include the following 25 titles with more to be added in the future:

  1. Introduction and goals of the video series.
  2. Considerations before embarking on a field data collection project.
  3. Collecting positions and attributes in the field with GPS and other devices.
  4. Considerations during and after conducting field investigations.
  5. Advantages to using a combination of GPS and GIS in the educational curriculum.
  6. Reflections on which tools and methods are most appropriate for use in specific educational settings.
  7. Cabling location and attribute data to a computer using the Minnesota DNR Garmin application; software considerations.
  8. Cabling location and attribute data to a computer using the Minnesota DNR Garmin application; hardware considerations.
  9. The difference between GPS tracks and waypoints.
  10. Accessing and using GPS-gathered waypoints and tracks.
  11. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS Online.
  12. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS Explorer Online
  13. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS Explorer virtual globe.
  14. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS Explorer virtual globe, part 2: Completed project: A Mojave Desert Joshua Tree example.
  15. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS desktop (version 10).
  16. Mapping and analyzing field data with ArcGIS desktop (version 10), part 2: Symbolizing and linking to multimedia.
  17. Using a smartphone for location, photographs, and video in gathering and mapping data.
  18. Using a smartphone for location, photographs, and video in gathering and mapping data, part 2: How to email photographs and videos from the field via a smartphone to a GIS to map and analyze it spatially.
  19. Using a smartphone for location, photographs, and video in gathering and mapping data, part 3: How to automatically geotag photographs and videos from the field via a smartphone to a GIS to map and analyze it spatially.
  20. Using a smartphone for location, photographs, and video in gathering and mapping data, part 4: Discussion and demonstration of how to automatically geotag photographs and videos from the field via a smartphone and a GeoRSS feed to map and analyze it spatially in a GIS.
  21. The positional accuracy of a smartphone versus a GPS receiver. Results of experiments comparing the positional accuracy of these two devices.
  22. Drawing with GPS, Mapping with GIS. Introduces and demonstrates how and why to draw letters and shapes with your GPS and mapping them with GIS.
  23. Dragging and dropping GPX files into ArcGIS Online locally.
  24. Dragging and dropping GPS files into ArcGIS Online internationally.
  25. Dragging and dropping text files with latitude-longitude coordinates into ArcGIS Online.


How might you be able to use these videos, and more importantly, these methodologies, in your instruction?

- Joseph Kerski, Education Manager

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Creating and Giving a Presentation Using ArcGIS Online

Recently I was invited to give a keynote address at the 2011 GI-Forum at the University of Salzburg, and created a map in ArcGIS Online that I used as my guide to the local physical and cultural geography. I shared it so that the other conference attendees could also use it, on http://esriurl.com/giforumsalzburg. I described this procedure in a recent blog entry but then went one step further: I used the same tool to create the keynote presentation that I gave at the conference. This presentation contains 57 slides and by searching for “GI-Forum” on ArcGIS Online, you can view it and use it to spark your own presentation ideas.

I varied the basemaps and methods throughout the presentation to keep the audience interested, and I found that ArcGIS Online offered a number of significant advantages. First, since ArcGIS Online is map-based, I could tie each of the points in my presentation to points on the maps. Second, the dynamic nature of the tool meant that at any point during the presentation, I could respond to questions from the audience and zoom to any location on the Earth, changing the basemaps or adding new content to respond to the question. After responding, I could easily resume the slides I had set up ahead of time. Third, I can now respond to those who are contacting me to find out if they can view it, simply by pointing them to ArcGIS Online. Fourth, I could easily go back and forth between my presentation and the local map with points of interest that I had created using the same tool.

Fifth, as we all know when working with technology, the unexpected can and will happen. On a practical level, using ArcGIS Online for the presentation saved the day when my computer would not communicate with the projector in the lecture hall at the University of Salzburg. At the last minute, we substituted a computer from one of the faculty, and because the presentation used ArcGIS Online, I did not have to worry about transferring files or whatever presentation software they might have had on the university’s computer. Rather, I was able to access and give my presentation right away!

How might you or your students use ArcGIS Online for an upcoming presentation or report, and how might you assess that presentation in the classroom?

- Joseph Kerski, Education Manager

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Fun with GIS #80: Easy Interactive Geographic Presentations

Tired of PowerPoint? Want interactive maps in a presentation? Head to ArcGIS Explorer Online, a web application that uses the free Microsoft Silverlight plug-in for web browsers on either Windows or Macintosh.

Building an interactive presentation is a pretty simple process, but more easily shown in a movie than written out step-by-step. Head to the Esri EdTeam YouTube Channel and see the short movie “Fun with GIS #80.” (Note the other useful videos to explore there as well.)

These interactive presentations can engage both professionally produced data or personally generated content. ArcGIS Explorer Online also has capacity to do SQL queries, even against large data sets (see blog and movie for “Fun With GIS #78“).

With titles, notes, bookmarks, and queries, ArcGIS Explorer Online is a powerful tool for presenting information or letting viewers interact with content to understand it more deeply. Terrific for STEM content (including Social Studies), for sure, but consider also the endless opportunities in the English/ Language Arts arena.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager, Esri Schools Program

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Analyzing Food Expenditures at Home vs. Away from Home

Think about two ways you can consume food – at home or away from home. Think about how often you eat at home versus away from home. Food purchased in grocery stores and eaten “at home” is generally less expensive than food purchased and eaten in restaurant. Do you think that the ratio of food expenditure at home vs. away from home varies by country? If so, how and why would it vary? Do you think there is a geographic pattern of the ratio within the USA, by region or even by neighborhood?

A new lesson in the ArcLessons library invites you to think spatially using common experiences of food purchasing and consumption, to analyze the relationship of food purchasing versus median age and household income, and to learn how to use ArcGIS Online as an analytical tool.

The lesson uses a standard web browser to access the food expenditure map on ArcGIS Online. The food data represent just two of the hundreds of variables available in the Esri Consumer Spending database. Esri combined the 2005-2006 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate these spending patterns.

I wrote the lesson around 10 focal points, including “scale matters,” national patterns, urban vs. rural, patterns within cities, famous foods and cities, university towns, retirement communities, areas with low population density, median age, and median household income. To compare these last two variables to food expenditures requires the addition of two additional layers, which is easily done in ArcGIS Online. The ability in ArcGIS Online of comparing different variables across space is a valuable educational tool.

The web GIS map displays a ratio of the average annual household expenditure on “food at home” to “food away from home.” Areas in red represent areas where households spend noticeably more at home, while blue area households spend noticeably more away from home. Households in an “average” area tend to spend $1.38 on food at home for every $1.00 on food away from home. This ratio of 1.38 does not mean that food at home is more expensive; it means that more money is spent for home consumption of food than money is spent away from home. In other words, most people eat at home more frequently than they eat away from home. Where the ratio approaches 1:1 represents areas where an equal amount of money is spent on food at home versus away from home. Red areas are above this average, blue areas are below this average, and yellow areas are near the average.

Why do many metropolitan areas contain neighborhood where the ratio is high, surrounded by a suburban ring where the ratio is low, surrounded by rural areas where the ratio is high again? Why do rural areas in Nevada and Utah seem to have a lower ratio than rural areas elsewhere?

What spatial patterns of food expenditures can you discover using this Web GIS resource? What implications do these patterns have?

-Joseph J. Kerski, Esri Education Manager

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