What’s coming in the September update of ArcGIS Online

Source: ArcGIS Resources 22nd Aug 2013

What’s coming in the September update of ArcGIS Online

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We are planning an update to ArcGIS Online on September 17.  The purpose of this communication is to provide you with information ahead of the update about planned changes, enhancements and new features. An additional communication will be shared approximately one week before the update as a reminder along with final notes on what you can expect.  Here’s what we currently have planned for the update:

Launch of ArcGIS Marketplace

ArcGIS Marketplace will provide an organization with an easier way to discover and access apps and data for use within the ArcGIS platform.  ArcGIS Marketplace will be a one stop for data from organizations such as DigitalGlobe, RapidEye, and Esri, as well as apps created by Esri partners, Esri and our distributors.  Apps and data in the marketplace are all specifically built to leverage and enhance what your organization can do with ArcGIS Online and will include paid and free apps, and many apps will have free trials. The launch of ArcGIS Marketplace may not coincide with the ArcGIS Online update but is planned for sometime in September.

Map viewer improvements

  • Easier access to a gallery of Esri map layers from the Add button in the map viewer.
  • The ability to reorder map layers in TOC and legend using drag and drop.
  • An interactive Geosearch experience that suggests places in a list as you type in the request.

ArcGIS ready-to-use layers and tools

  • Basemaps will be updated content for Australia and New Zealand.
  • The World Imagery Map will include new DigitalGlobe content.
  • Additional landscape layers including forty new image services focusing on critical habitat, species range, and soils plus four new dynamic maps services, including hazardous waste, aquifers, and coal fields.
  • Developer APIs and Widgets including samples will be available for Spatial Analysis.
  • Enhanced performance and scalability for analysis services and traffic maps
  • Routing will be available for these additional countries: Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America.

Enterprise Logins

Help will include steps for configuring OpenAM 10.1.0 and NetIQ Access Manager 3.2 as your Enterprise Login provider.

Other enhancements

  • ArcGIS Online will support two additional languages: Czech and Finnish.
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements.


Developers will be able to preview the new GeoTriggers service.

We will share another communication in early September so you can stay on top of what’s happening with this update of ArcGIS Online.

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GIS Tips – What is topology and why do I need it?

In 1736, the mathematician Leonhard Euler published a paper that arguably started the branch of mathematics known as topology. The problem that led to Euler’s work in this area, known as “The Seven Bridges of Königsberg,” is described in the accompanying article “Conundrum Inspires Topology.” More recently, the United States Census Bureau, while preparing for the 1970 census, pioneered the application of mathematical topology to maps to reduce the errors in tabulating massive amounts of census data. Today, topology in GIS is generally defined as the spatial relationships between adjacent or neighboring features.

Mathematical topology assumes that geographic features occur on a two-dimensional plane. Through planar enforcement, spatial features can be represented through nodes (0-dimensional cells); edges, sometimes called arcs (one-dimensional cells); or polygons (two-dimensional cells). Because features can exist only on a plane, lines that cross are broken into separate lines that terminate at nodes representing intersections rather than simple vertices.

In GIS, topology is a collection of rules that, coupled with a set of editing tools and techniques, enables the geospatial data to more accurately model geometric relationships. Topology is defined through a set of rules that define how features may share a geographic space and a set of editing tools that work with features that share geometry in an integrated fashion. A topology is commonly stored in a geodatabase as one or more relationships that define how the features in one or more feature classes share geometry. The features participating in a topology are still simple feature classes—rather than modifying the definition of the feature class, a topology serves as a description of how the features can be spatially related.

An overview of some common topological rules

Image courtesy of ESRI

I’ve been doing fine up to now, why do I need to use this as well?

As stated above, topology defines rules for the geospatial data and will prevent issues with gaps or overlaps which occur with even the best editing. Both ESRI software and QGIS use topology extremely well, though the documentation for the ESRI software is a little more clear. There is a great poster which ESRI have on their website which you can download here, it might start to help you see how useful topology can be,

Put simply, when you build field parcels, you NEED topology so that fences ALWAYS follow the polygon boundary or that there are never gaps between polygons (fields). You NEED topology when you create urban topography – house must ALWAYS sit within a property boundary, a road MUST ALWAYS meet a field parcel.

It is not only feature creation or survey work where topology is necessary, I am finding a lot more work now requiring the use of spatial analysis based on topology, for example, calculating the number of features touching another feature (this only works properly with features built with proper topology).

Getting Started

Topology is one of those things, like enabling the “snapping tool” or using the “create faeture from selection” that you don’t realise you need in your life until you start using it.

So to get things started off, depending on whether you are “ESRI” or “QGIS” have a look at one of the tutorials below. Even if you don’t try it, have a look to see what topology could do for you….

QGIS – Feature topology lesson

ArcGIS – Editing shared features with map topology

Further Reading:

ArcUser – Understanding Topology

ArcGIS 10.1 Help  – Creating a map topology

QGIS (Youtube) – Topology Checker Plugin demonstration

Topology in QGIS 2.0 – Blog by rjhale

Wikipedia – Geospatial Topology

GIS Tips – ArcGIS, Create Sequential Numbers in the Attribute table (without using = FID!!)

Recently I was creating a HUGE figure which needed to reference all the features in the map with a number, so, as I would normally, I went to the attribute table, created a new field and opened up the ArcGIS Field Calculator, then opened up Ian Ko’s Easy Calculate (EC50 to you REAL GIS nerds) in preparation to use the “REC” command…..only it didn’t work

It turns out that EC50 doesn’t work with ArcGIS 10.1, so what did I do?……I used Python!!

Here is the ESRI resource page on how to create sequential numbers, easy peasy – even a Python noob like me got it to work!!

HowTo:  Create sequential numbers in a field using Python in the Field Calculator

Article ID: 38517
Software:  ArcGIS – ArcEditor 10 ArcGIS – ArcInfo 10 ArcGIS – ArcView 10
Platforms: N/A


Instructions provided describe how to create sequential numbers in a field using Python in the Field Calculator.


 The code in this article generates sequential numbers for unsorted data based on the OID or FID order. If your data is sorted on a field, the generated numbers will not be sequential.
  1. Create a new short integer field.
  2. Set the Parser to Python.
  3. Select Show Codeblock.
  4. Paste the following into the Pre-Logic Script Code:
    def autoIncrement(): 
     global rec 
     pStart = 1  
     pInterval = 1 
     if (rec == 0):  
      rec = pStart  
      rec += pInterval  
     return rec
  5. Paste the following code in the smaller box below the Pre-Logic Script Code:
  6. Click OK.

Ordnance Survey Open Data Certified!!

Source: Ordnance Survey Blog 13th Aug 2013

There are so many different types of open data being released that it is becoming increasingly difficult for users to know the best to use in their applications, systems and technology.  To address this, the Open Data Institute (ODI) has launched the ODI certificate, which publishers can check their open data against.

The certificate runs through a series of questions that have been designed to help publishers:

  • explain what their open data is about
  • improve quality with other people’s help
  • respect people’s privacy and rights
  • build communities of interested people
  • deliver open data that people can depend upon

There are 4 kinds of certificate levels available; Raw, Pilot, Standard and Expert. Progressing through each level demonstrates an increased support network and robust information infrastructure.

“The Expert level sets a very high bar. This ambition underpins the potential we see in open data if it is published well. We don’t know who will be the first to attain an Expert certificate, but whoever it is will be celebrated!” (Jeni Tennison, Technical Director, ODI)

We put our Linked Data products, Code-Point Open, Boundary-Line and 1:50 000 Scale Gazetteer through the certification process and all are now certified “Standard Level”.

The application is really easy to use and the recommendations provided on how to improve the data to increase its rating have given us a clear steer on improving the openness of the data.

We now plan to put all of our other OS OpenData products through the same process to help to prioritise future developments and will published the results on our website.

Just wanted to use Grand Prix and GIS in the same headline

Saw this article on the ESRI website and couldn’t resist re-blogging it as it involves not only my first love, GIS but also my second love, Formula 1…..

Source ArcNews Aug13th 2013

Situated on the mid-Atlantic coast, Baltimore, Maryland, is representative of many US cities with an urban core (population of about 620,000 in 80 square miles) situated within a larger metropolitan area.

IndyCar racers on the Baltimore Grand Prix circuit.IndyCar racers on the Baltimore Grand Prix circuit.

Unlike other cities, Baltimore offers the thrilling experience of watching racecars speed down its streets each Labor Day Weekend. The Grand Prix of Baltimore, presented by SRT (a high-performance automobile group within Chrysler LLC) was first held in 2011. This IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series event runs on an interim street circuit around the Inner Harbor.

Yet, even as this event excites and delights, public safety is an issue that must be first and foremost for city officials. During the 2012 Grand Prix, a new easy-to-use web mapping application had been introduced and helped race organizers and public safety officials communicate important information to race enthusiasts like street closures and medical and security locations. Fans were able to map and find directions to the starting line, the pit lane, parking, gates, paddock areas, shuttle stops, and bike parking zones, plus nearby hotels and restaurants.

The mapping application was the result of city officials understanding that with the need and demand for real-time digital information becoming more prevalent than ever, the city needed an application built to deliver a find-it-yourself capability for Baltimore’s municipal website that addressed citizen and visitor demand for relevant and important location-based information. Called CityView, the application was a collaborative effort between the City of Baltimore and Esri Silver Partner Applied Geographics, Inc. (AppGeo), of Boston, Massachusetts, with the intent of keeping citizens and visitors alike informed and safe at all times.

Informing the Public and Keeping Baltimore Safe

The city fields thousands of calls daily not only about special events like the Grand Prix but also routine citizen questions about trash pickup, snow routes, polling places, and other topics handled by different departments. A common denominator of these calls is that they relate to specific places within the city. Baltimore’s vision for its mapping application was to provide specific constituencies (residents, businesses, visitors) with location-based information regarding public safety, city life, and special events tailored to their needs. Residents and visitors now have an easy way to find out where the nearest police station, fire station, or hospital is or where the nearest evacuation center is should yet another superstorm reach the East Coast.

By creating the Grand Prix street circuit map, Baltimore helps residents, visitors, businesses, and city staff enjoy this annual event.By creating the Grand Prix street circuit map, Baltimore helps residents, visitors, businesses, and city staff enjoy this annual event.

Users can go directly to specific addresses, locations, or neighborhoods, or they can identify as a resident, visitor, or businessperson looking for information about a particular topic. For example, one could identify as a resident of the Inner Harbor and then select a specific subtopic—public safety, weather, or planning—and quickly and accurately find if they are in a floodplain, the latest track of an approaching hurricane, and nearby evacuation shelters, or one could identify as a visitor, select the subtopic “stadiums,” and find the quickest route to Camden Yards. The results are displayed on a map and in a list that provides links, driving directions, and other useful information. Users can also download the results to a spreadsheet or share the map via e-mail.

Public safety information is also available on the splash page and through an Alerts function that are updated by the city in response to events. For example, when temperatures exceed 90 degrees or during extreme cold temperatures, the city updates these links to notify citizens on the locations of cooling or warming centers, plus contact information, intake hours, and capacity. Alerts delivered through the website might identify closed streets due to a water main break or show residents where the potential flood areas are during catastrophic storm events and where vehicles should be moved.

Baltimore’s Enterprise GIS (EGIS) Group’s longtime commitment to Esri software made its platform choice for CityView an easy one. The application is powered by mapping services and published via ArcGIS for Server to deliver city map layers and interactive functionality. After working collaboratively with EGIS on design, AppGeo built the application using Esri’s ArcGIS API for JavaScript and HTML5.

Beyond public safety and special events, the new web capabilities make a difference for city staff and residents alike on a daily basis. Here are a few examples:

Fewer Calls and Quick Property Reference in the Planning Department

Since its launch, Planning Department staff use the application as a quick property reference, and they frequently refer callers to the application. City planner Jamie Williams has noticed a significant reduction of phone calls to her office, particularly multiple requests from the same citizen, providing verification that the application is getting repeated use and is meeting the need for self-service information.

Calls to 311 Center Reduced by Nearly 20 Percent

In 1996, Baltimore was the first US city to introduce the 311 phone number for residents to report nonemergency situations like potholes or graffiti.

Floodplain information layered over a map of the Inner Harbor.Floodplain information layered over a map of the Inner Harbor.

Today, Baltimore 311 relies on CityView more than any other city department. Employee Sharron Rosenbaum noted that Baltimore 311 takes about 3,000 calls a day. The 311 Call Center agents use the application to respond to callers’ questions, verify locations, and determine service information. The application makes it easy for 311 staff to enter the location of interest by street number/name, intersection, or a common place (e.g., City Hall). Om Poudel, application developer with the EGIS, studied CityView website traffic and found that it increased significantly in the first six months of 2012. Currently, daily hits average 500 during the workweek and 300 on weekends, equaling hundreds of fewer calls to Baltimore 311 every day. He attributes the steady traffic to the fact that EGIS staff continuously adds new layers or updates in response to user demand. Plus, CityView links appear on several of the city’s web pages, such as the small business development website that provides a hyperlink to the application and automatically populates the search fields based on where the user was within the website.

Beyond Trash and Recycling to Community Outreach

In the Bureaus of Solid Waste and Water and Wastewater, staffer Amanda Huber explains the application enables staff to assist residents with their trash and recycling collection days and differentiate between a missed collection and items that were mistakenly set out on the wrong day. The application is also used in outreach efforts, like advising residents who to contact for programs like the Community Pitch-In, a community cleanup event.

Huber also says staff use the application to quickly determine property information, mass transit and other transportation features, locations of businesses and city services, and historic districts and landmarks—key location-based information that helps staff do their jobs more efficiently.

From a Public Safety Standpoint, Current Data Is Useful Data

From the beginning, Baltimore recognized that the application design had to ensure information could be kept up-to-date by city staff. AppGeo built the application so that staff could extend CityView (maps and data) themselves. Mike Blake, AppGeo’s project manager, says, “City staff now handles all content additions to the map through a configuration interface. They easily add the layers—cooling centers, food trucks, and special events, for example—and can customize and update their site to include the mundane to the critical.”

Basemaps Add Important Context

The city also understood that users of the site would need access to a variety of basemaps to provide context for their questions. Esri’s Community Basemap, Esri Streets, and Light Gray Canvas basemap options are available, as well as aerial photography, Bing Streets, Bing Bird’s Eye, and more. Switching among basemaps is easily done from a drop-down menu. The user has control over the transparency of basemaps and the thematic maps that overlay the basemap, and city staff can easily add new basemaps.

For more information, contact Samantha Luckhardt, EGIS supervisor, City of Baltimore, or Mike Blake, PMP, senior project manager, AppGeo. In 2012, the Public Technology Institute recognized Baltimore’s CityView with an award for GIS Significant Achievement.

Agenda for the UK QGIS meeting

See you all at 13:30……

Source: QGIS UK Blog Aug 8th 2013

Agenda for the UK QGIS meeting

Finally I’ve been able to put an agenda together for the UK QGIS meeting 27th Maptember 2013,  and here it is!

10.00 – Arrival (Tea and Coffee)
10.15 – Welcome
10.30 – Jo Cook (Astun Technology) – Portable GIS & PostGIS
11.30 – Chris Page  – CWS SuperFast Broadband mapping project
12.00 – Lunch provided by Astun Technology
12.30 – Mark Percival (David Lock Associates)- Time Manager plugin
13.00 – Steve Campbell (Poole Borough Council) – QGIS & SQL
13.30 – Nick Duggan (PMSS) – QGIS – quick & efficient GIS access
14.00 – Andreas Neumann (Switzerland QGIS user group) – Notes from abroad!
14.30 – Where next? / Open discussion
15.00 – Close

The Ordnance Survey are kindly providing attendees with a USB stick which will not only contain some of the OS open-data products but also Portable GIS as demoed by Jo Cook . If you have a Windows laptop and bring this along to the event, then you will be able to follow through the workshop examples with Jo. Portal QGIS, as the name suggests runs from a USB stick and therefore does not need to physically be installed on your machine (find out more). There may be limited access to power points and internet access so please bear this in mind!

The event is sold out, with all 35 tickets being snapped up. If you think you might not actually be able to attend, then please do get in contact as there are a number of people on our  waiting list.

GIS Software Comparison Matrix – A work in progress….

Crazy Ideas Create Crazy Solutions

Many moons ago, a few days after the ESRI UK User Conference I was chatting with @ElliotHartley about Open Source GIS systems and he mentioned that what the GIS community could really do with is some kind of comparison spreadsheet.

My first thought was that it would be a 2 minute job, surely somewhere there would be a spreadsheet comparing AT LEAST ArcGIS to a few other packages like Grass or QGIS right?….WRONG!! Try it yourself, this brought out the competitive nature in me and I started to build…..

Here is the Goods…with conditions

Through hours of trawling, I found a spreadsheet which was 2 or 3 years old and had most of the well known packages mentioned within it, here is the original, if anyone knows who the source is, it would be great to combine efforts. I updated the document as best I could and added formatting to show more relevant information to the expected audience to highlight pros, cons, open source & proprietary software.

GIS Software comparison matrix July 2013

Now I need your help!!

I would love for this matrix to become a useful resource for the GIS Beginner or a reference for the developer looking to extend the software tool set, to do this it would be great to receive some updates to the spreadsheet!

If you have any updates, such as another GIS which is missing off the list OR information about updated versions of the software I have listed OR if any of the information is incorrect, please let me know, take a copy of the spreadsheet, update it and send it back to me, I’ll make sure you are credited on the sheet.

Moving forward

Provided I get the feedback, I can see merit in ranking the software based on functionality and possibly even extending this further to rating based on the user type (Software suited to cartography, spatial analysis, 3D analysis, maritime analysis etc).


August 8th 2013

Thank you for the overwhelming response so far and suggestions on how to get the geo-community helping out even more. Following your kind words I have uploaded the GIS Software Matrix to Google Docs as a shared doc where it should be possible to go in and edit/update & even add information.


Lets build something that can really help the GIS community in getting the right software for the task in hand.


August 13th 2013

The kind people over at Manifold GIS have kindly added their software and it looks very competitive, lets keep the enthusiasm and add any other software to build a definitive list!!

Nick D