Submarine Cables

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Why We Love It

Deep on the ocean floor you will find communication cables made to carry signals from one land to another. The first undersea communications cables, laid in the 1850s, carried telegraphy. Now these cables carry our phone and Internet traffic. Yet, they remain relatively hidden in the depths of the ocean. We love how this map lets us explore global cable connections. We can see the cables all at once or focus on interdependencies by using the contents pane to filter by construction year, a specific cable, or a landing point.

Why It Works

When we view undersea cable data on a global scene view, we get a real sense of how these cables tie together the world’s populated places. This map uses spheres and tubes to symbolize the landing points and cables. This works to emphasize connectivity while remaining playful and easy to understand. When you filter information based on a single cable, landing point, or construction year, you can see interdependencies that are otherwise less obvious. This map does not rely on traditional pop-ups when you select a feature, but instead hides all unrelated features.

Important Steps

Download submarine cables data from Google Fusion Tables as KML data.

Review the KML data in ArcGIS Pro and convert it to a file geodatabase.

Choose an ArcGIS Online configurable app to design a user interface for the web application.

Create derived data.

Create a Web Scene and share to ArcGIS Online



Data for this application was prepared by TeleGeography and is a cartographic representation. Downloaded as KML documents in November 2015, the data was republished on ArcGIS Online.


A new cross-reference table was derived from the cable and landing point datasets. The table describes the many-to-many relationships between cables and landing points. It was published to ArcGIS Online and is used by the web application for rapid cable-to-landing-point referencing.


The entire effort took less than two weeks of full-time development. Approximately 80 percent of that time was spent on user interface design and implementation.

3D Global Scene


Use a 3D global scene rather than a flat 2D map to ensure that submarine cables are not distorted in shape or length, particularly near the poles.

Feature Information


Rather than rely on pop-ups to show information about selected features, temporarily eliminate all other features and use the entire side panel of the application to show feature information.



Use hyperlinks in the side panel to explore and cross-reference the data.

More Information

Map Author

Richie Carmichael

Richie Carmichael

@KiwiRichie | LinkedIn

A 15-year veteran at Esri and the Applications Prototype Lab. Trained as a New Zealand land surveyor. Striving for world peace one map at a time.

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