GEOG 487
Environmental Challenges in Spatial Data Science

Required Readings and Videos


Required Readings & Videos

Instructions: Watch the seven short videos below (~20 minutes total) and review the two Esri web pages listed as required readings. You will need information covered to complete the Lesson 2 Quiz. You may want to print the quiz from Canvas and keep track of your answers as you watch each video.


Video 1

Get Started with ArcGIS Online (3:09)
Click here for a transcript of: Get Started with ArcGIS Online.

PRESENTER: ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based mapping and analysis solution where you can find a collection of geographic information from around the world, and make your own maps, 3D scenes, and apps. Use ArcGIS Online to share your geospatial content with the community and organize collections of content into groups to collaborate with others on projects and initiatives.

Find and use content from your organization, Esri, and other organizations. While searching for content, you can mark items as favorites to make them easy to find later. Search through thousands of content items, and sort and filter your results to drill down to what you need.

In this example, we’ll filter search results using ArcGIS content categories. We want to find environmental data focusing on weather and climate. You can also add your own items to ArcGIS Online. For example, you can add files such as spreadsheets from your computer, or link to layers on the web such as KML or OGC layers. You can even pull in data from your web and mobile apps.

Items you add can be shared with your organization, with everyone, with groups you belong to, or with a combination of these. Try ArcGIS Online now to get answers to spatial questions and share your results to tell compelling stories. ArcGIS Online has plenty of resources to help you get started! Visit the Resources page for product documentation, discovery paths, and more.

Credit: ArcGIS,

Video 2

ArcGIS Online: Mapping Basics (3:31)
Click here for a transcript of ArcGIS Online: Mapping Basics.

PRESENTER: There are patterns hidden in your data. ArcGIS Online empowers you to reveal those patterns and explore new perspectives using maps. 

As the map author, you have options about how to present your data. To start mapping, open Map Viewer and browse the basemap gallery. ArcGIS Online includes a collection of basemaps that emphasize different views of our world. Administrators can also add custom basemaps, including basemaps in different projections, to their organization's gallery. 

You can add layers to your map from a variety of sources. Use your own data, bring in layers from the web, or access authoritative data from ArcGIS Living Atlas and from a global community of ArcGIS users. 

Once you've added data to the map, smart mapping defaults suggest the best way to represent it based on the data fields you choose. Different styles are available depending on the data and layer type. For example, you can style your data by location, by number, or by category. Try choosing two or more fields to explore other styles. Smart mapping styles make it easy to uncover and show comparisons, predominance, and other patterns in your data. 

Once you've chosen a map style, you can further customize the look and feel of your map with curated color ramps and symbol sets. Color ramps are sorted into collections like best for light backgrounds, best for dark backgrounds, and colorblind friendly. This helps you make smart cartographic decisions. 

You can also experiment with filters to get a focused view of your data. Create a filter to display only the data that matches the expression. This helps you highlight important and relevant locations. Pop-ups help make your maps engaging and informative. Enhance your pop-up with custom-formatted text, charts, and other content to provide an interactive way to explore data. 

Once your map is complete, add it to your collection of ArcGIS Online items. Then you can share the map with your organization, with specific groups, or with the public. You can even use the map to make a web app.

With ArcGIS Online, you can explore and harness the power of your data and create maps that tell stories and answer questions. To learn more about mapping in ArcGIS Online, visit the Resources page for product documentation, Discovery Paths, and more.

Credit: ArcGIS,

Video 3

ArcGIS Online: Sharing Basics (2:59)
Click here for a transcript of ArcGIS Online: Sharing Basics.

PRESENTER: ArcGIS Online helps you put your data to work. See how sharing your maps, layers, scenes, apps, and other content allows you to connect and collaborate with others. Until items in your organization are shared, only their owners and organization members with the correct privileges can access them.

For items you choose to share, be sure to complete and refine the item details. This helps others find your content and understand its purpose. Several sharing options are available. Depending on your privileges and your organization’s security settings, you can share items with your organization, with the public, with groups you belong to, or with a combination of these. On the Content page, you can filter your items by sharing level and see at a glance how your items are shared.

Sharing your content offers many benefits. For example, sharing with groups allows you to collaborate securely with specific members of your organization or partner organizations on projects and initiatives. To engage and share your insights with the public, try sharing a map as an app. Or share your feature data as a hosted web layer that others can add to their maps and scenes. To learn more about sharing content in ArcGIS Online, visit the Resources page for product documentation, discovery paths, and more.

Credit: ArcGIS,

Video 4

ArcGIS Online: Group Basics (2:52)
Click here for a transcript of ArcGIS Online: Group Basics.

PRESENTER: A group is a collection of items, usually related to a specific region, subject, or project. Groups allow you to organize and share your items. You decide who can join your group, who can find and view it, and who can contribute content.

Most organizations have many items and members. Administrators can use groups to help manage the organization. For example, configure groups to feature content on your organization's home page and build custom galleries for basemaps and apps.

You can also use groups to make your public items available to Open Data sites or set up administrative groups to help with member management. Groups allow members to work closely together on projects and initiatives. Shared update groups are useful when multiple people need to update the same items. You can even use groups to collaborate securely with another organization through a partnered collaboration.

To learn more about groups, visit the Resources page for product documentation, discovery paths, and more.

Credit: ArcGIS,

Video 5

Introduction to Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS (10:00)
Click here for a transcript of the Introduction to Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS.

PRESENTER: Starting at the web map from the previous video, we're now going to make this into a web app builder app. So, to do this, there are two versions of Web App Builder, one that's hosted on ArcGIS online, and one called the Developer Edition, which you can download and modify yourself.

So first, we're going to go over the hosted version, on ArcGIS online. I'm going to get there, once you're in your web map you can click share, and make a web application button. Then there's this Web App Builder tab. So it's already filled in, our title tags summary for us. I'm going to click, get started, and we are brought into the web builder for ArcGIS. So over here we can see we have our web app and this is kind of the interface surrounding it. That's the app that Web App Builder is building for you. You can customize the style of that with this left pane as well as changing layout, um, different themes. Web App Builder works around these widgets. So, we have two widgets here, legend, and layer list. There's widget slots as well, here. The widgets pane is where you configure exactly what widgets are going to show up where. So we can see we've got these two slots available. You click that, I can add, for example, a bookmark widget here. And there it is. Web App Builder lets you customize also, name, logo. The map that's loaded in, we're using the map from the previous video, but you can choose other ones that you saved on your account. And going back to the widgets, these are customizable. So, if you click the pencil icon of these widgets, you can actually add new bookmarks, and for this particular one, but the settings will be different for every widget.

So, besides just seeing what it's going to look like in the browser, in the browser we can see, preview it and see what it will look like on mobile devices. So, here it is on an iPad size device. We can make it so what you look like on a phone. And Web App Builder makes apps that are responsive. So, as you can see here, the UI fits the screen depending on what size a device you have. Get to the other widgets here, just a different way of looking at it when it's at a smaller screen size, but the map is still fully accessible. So, that's the hosted version of web app builder.

The developer edition can be found on the developer site. Go to documentation, I've already downloaded web builder, so I'll go there now. Once you unzip the file, you'll find there's a startup file which you'll use to launch Web App Builder. So, start it up and open a new browser window. The first thing you'll specify is your organization, or portal URL. If you are using a developer account, you'll find this by clicking on your profile name, and then the account URL path. So that's been filled in already. So for app ID we're going to create a new app. It can be found by clicking the applications button, and we see we already have a ECCE app challenge. That's from previously opening up a hosted version of Web App Builder. So we'll go there and click, register application. There we have our client ID. Paste that into the box, click continue. We get an error message, invalid redirect, so to fix this, we need to go to the authentication tab under the application you're using, and enter in the machine name for current redirect URLs. So, we're going to add in, machine name can be found here, the URL. We’re going to use that HTTP, and HTTPS. And when we refresh this, continue, we now get this request for permission. And this is Web App Builder asking for the ability to access your ArcGIS online account. So we'll approve that, and now we're a Web App Builder, developer edition.

So, we're going to create a new app, and once this loads we'll see that we're in the same type of environment that we were in on the hosted version, which looks exactly the same with the same widgets and themes. We haven't chosen the right web app, so we can go in here and you can choose our ECCE map, challenge map, but the rest of the interface is the same. I'm going to save that, and go back to the main screen.

So, now with this screen, we can create a whole bunch of web apps here, but the one we just created we want to download and modify. So, I'm going to hit this button and then the download link. And once it is downloaded it’ll give you a zip of all the code behind that app. I'm going to go there and unzip it to my server. Take all these files, extract, and I'll create a new Web App Builder folder and unzip it, those files, into there.

Once that's done, we can go and view the app, on our local server. So, we've just been, used the default widgets. These are already created for us. But to create your own, that's really the benefit of using the developer edition, is now we can go into the widgets folder and here are all the widgets that were already created for us. We can add our own widget. And actually, the web app builder installation has a sample widget you can use. So, inside of this path there is a sample widgets directory, and you can use the custom widget template. Copy this, as the base for the widget you're going to develop. And this structure is how all the other widgets, all the other widgets follow the same structure for organizing their code. So all the actual code is in the JS file, the widget.js file, and the HTML structure, the markup.

So, I'm going to open up the widget.js file. And you can see these functions here, messages to communicate with the app container. These are methods you'll, you'll use and comment when you actually go ahead and start putting in your own code. On the home screen of the web app builder page, I go back to the documentation. There's a guide that has some help for widget development. So I recommend you read through this to get comfortable how the Web App Builder works and how it uses widgets. There’s also themes you can develop to change how it looks, and some sample code you can use.

Credit: ArcGIS,

Video 6

Latest & Greatest from ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World (5:35)
Click here for a transcript of the Living Atlas.


Hello, my name is Emily Mariam, and I'm a product engineer specializing in cartography with a Living Atlas environment team. Now, in case some of you aren't familiar with the Living Atlas, Living Atlas is a trustworthy source for layers maps and apps that are contributed by the gis community and are enabling a global web-based GIS. 

What's new? Well, we are building a collection of analyzed layers from high-resolution US and global climate models and are also summarizing them into zones that can be enriched with population data. New additions like WorldClim and NASA's IMERG, which you see animated here. Provide updated global precipitation estimates in the US. There are new layers for the US drought monitor and NOAA's urban heat mapping campaign. Storm reports have been updated with more unique storm identifiers, and stream gages have been expanded to include new networks from our community map contributors in the ocean sustainable development goal 14.1. Monthly reporting on coastal eutrophication has been automated. And you've already heard about the ecological marine unit updates and the release of ecological coastal units. 

What's new with our partners? There have been several contributions recently from the US forest service with a series of 15 new layers that are available to help map and analyze community wildfire risk. There are also new layers from National Geographic's Pristine Seas Project that show numerical rankings of the global ocean to prioritize conservation activities for biodiversity, food, and carbon. NOAA has added two fire and smoke layers which are identified through their hazard mapping system. Both of these go through quality control procedures that is performed using both machine and analyst-based data screening. 

What's coming? There's so much great content being worked on within Esri and in our partner network so stay tuned as these make their way into the Living Atlas collection. Let's jump right into showcasing a few different maps and apps. Alright, I'll start with the high tide flooding app, which is a visualization and data access utility created by Esri where you can explore nuisance flooding projections through 2100 and different scenarios across the United States. Nuisance flooding projections are an invaluable resource made available by NOAA CO-OPs. This information can help coastal planners better understand potential flooding impacts and identify locations at risk. Next, Esri's drought-aware app provides an interactive experience to examine past, present, and future drought conditions for the US, along with potential impacts to population and agriculture. You can click on a county or estate and get the latest information as well click through the time series to use data from NOAA, the US department of Agriculture, and the US Census. 

Another recent addition to the Living Atlas is the PADDDtracker from Conservation International. This includes validated data on protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement events. PADD tracks the legal changes that ease restrictions on the use of a protected area, shrink a protected area's boundaries, or eliminates legal protections entirely. They have documented more than 3000 enacted cases of PADDD in nearly 70 countries for a total area of more than 130 million hectares. Also shown on this map is the world database of protected areas and is also available in Living Atlas. 

There are also new maps from the First Street Foundation. A non-profit research and technology group that has a nationwide flood model called Flood Factor, which shows any location's risk of flooding from rain, rivers, tides, and storm surge. It forecasts how flood risks will change over time due to changes in the environment. The pop-ups have detailed information by county, state, congressional district, and zip code. 

One of the things I love about the map viewer are the blend modes. Let's add from Living Atlas, the world population density estimates so that we can use it to highlight only those areas within the polygon where people actually live. The blend mode destination atop will allow the flood layer to be drawn only where it overlaps with the population layer. So now, instead of using polygons, you get a clear picture of where people are actually living with just a few clicks. I hope you've enjoyed the latest and greatest from living atlas, and thank you very much.

Credit: Esri Events,

Video 7

Introduction to the National Map (6:09)
Click here for a transcript of the Introduction to the National Map.

[Female VO] Maps... A foundation of geographic knowledge... to help us navigate the world, explore, protect and sustain our resources, save lives, and preserve these lands for our children. As part of the Department of the Interior, the United States Geological Survey has led the way in mapping the nation. Mapping goes hand and hand with American history, the exploration of the west, and the development of our country.

[Male VO] A government cannot do any scientific work of more value to the people at large than by causing the construction of proper topographic maps of the country.

[Female VO] In 1884 John Wesley Powell established a program for mapping the nation and helped define a new frontier. Over the next 125 years, mapping methods changed as the use and technology matured. Evolving from field sketching and manual cartography to producing paper maps, then modernizing to digital mapping using the latest geospatial technologies.

[Allen Carrol, National Geographic Society] Maps are the heart and soul of what we do here, at National Geographic. We were founded in 1888 and almost from the very beginning we worked closely with the U.S. Geological Survey for accurate and authoritative base maps of our country. Now in digital form, maps are constantly changing and that’s a very exciting opportunity for us. We can take those data layers in The National map, things like roads, buildings and rivers and we can shape them and customize them and serve various audiences on new platforms in ways that we could never have imagined even just a few years ago.

[Female VO] Born from the digital revolution is The National Map. Today The National Map is everywhere.

Text fly-ins: -- based on data from US Geological Survey-Google Maps

-- New generation of digital topographic maps-Directions Magazine

-- archived imagery and maps provided by US Geological Survey-TerraServer USA

-- including ”imagery: US Geological Survey”-Google Earth

When you see computer simulations of the earth’s surface, you are likely looking at data from The National Map.

Text fly-ins: -- compiled from best available sources including the US Geological Survey”-ESRI

It’s fundamental data; It’s familiar information we use every day and may not even know it.

[Jack Dangermond] Today geospatial technologies are advancing the way we are thinking as human species. The USGS has done us a major service by providing a key base map which spans from sea to sea, from border to border. This will affect how we plan things it’ll effect economic development, it’ll make our society better, it will help us manage our environment more effectively and get citizens engaged. I really strongly support The National Map and the efforts that the USGS is making to provide this foundation.

[Female VO] The National Map provides foundational information nationwide. These include... Aerial Imagery... Elevation...

Place and feature names... Water... Land cover... Transportation... Structures... and Boundaries. With innovative services like the new National Map viewer platform, a user can visualize data they want to download or manipulate and make their own map.

Another new product built on the USGS legacy and data from The National Map is US Topo(TOE-PO). US Topo provides updated electronic topographic maps that are available at To acquire and maintain better data, The National Map relies heavily on partnerships with Federal, State and local agencies...along with industry. With huge challenges ahead in the areas of Energy, Emergency Operations, Human Services and Natural resource Management, finding solutions will depend on stewardship of geospatial data.

[Tommy Dewald, EPA] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency works with many different organizations to provide the

nation with clean and safe water. Together we collect a vast amount of water quality data. The mapping of water data is accomplished in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey. This partnership lead to the development of The National Hydrography Dataset that provides a common referencing system of the nations surface waters. The federal and state organizations who work together to develop the National Hydrography Dataset now also contribute to its improvement through The National Map’s data stewardship program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is one of many organizations that benefit from the geospatial data from The National Map.

[Female VO] The National Map of the future will offer more innovations and online capabilities, increased investment in stewardship, leading to greater knowledge and easier accessibility to national geospatial information for everyone.

[Marcia McNutt, USGS Director] At the USGS we are committed to forward-looking, advanced research and development of geospatial technologies. With the support of our partners, The National Map provides valuable data and services

to meet the changing needs of our nation. The future holds endless possibilities for using maps and geo-referenced datasets allowing citizens and scientists alike to explore the true nature of our planet’s geography. To learn more about The National Map and how to become a valuable partner, visit

Credit: USGS,


Reading 1: Skim the Esri Living Atlas of the World Story Map and browse the Esri Living Atlas content.

Reading 2: Skim the content of the Web App Builder for ArcGIS help information about the Swipe widget