A Geographic Bonanza: ArcGIS Online Is Rich in Resources

Hunting down good data for a GIS project once involved a lot of work. Today, using ready-made basemaps and authoritative data from ArcGIS Online, GIS analysts can spend more time thinking analytically, which really gets to the heart of what makes global GIS work.

What kind of data is available in the Esri featured content section in the Gallery of ArcGIS Online?


Imagery layers give you the ability to view

A Geographic Bonanza
Tokyo Station is in the center of the Japanese capital. This imagery layer is useful, and its metadata (resolution, age, and source) is only a click away.

Tokyo Station is in the center of the Japanese capital. This imagery layer is useful, and its metadata (resolution, age, and source) is only a click away.

Boundaries & Places

Many places are logically defined by a boundary. These map layers describe areas at many levels of geography, including countries, administrative areas, postal codes, and census boundaries.

A Geographic Bonanza

Boundaries & Places are the bread and butter of vector GIS. Basically, anything that can be depicted as point, line, or polygon features is found here. This web app displays hiking trails in Idaho as line features.

Demographics & Lifestyle

Demographic and lifestyle maps—of the United States and more than 120 other countries—include recent information about total population, family size, household income, consumer spending, and much more

A Geographic Bonanza

This story map is a gateway to daytime population data for the United States.


Basemaps provide reference maps of the world and the context for your work. Built from the best available data from the GIS community of reliable data providers, these maps are presented in multiple cartographic styles and provide the foundation for GIS apps.

A Geographic Bonanza

This basemap offers a detailed representation of Lower Manhattan in New York City, symbolized with a custom street map style that is designed for use at night or in other low-light environments.


These are the maps and layers that describe the systems that people use to move between places. They include a variety of global, national, and local maps on various topics ranging from infrastructure projects to rest areas. Some of these layers are dynamic, such as the World Traffic map, which is updated every few minutes with data on traffic incidents and congestion.

A Geographic Bonanza

In places where high automobile and truck traffic exist, daily traffic counts reveal patterns in highly-impacted areas.

Earth Observations

These maps and layers are collected from sensors on the ground and in space. They describe our planet’s current conditions, from earthquakes and fires to hurricanes and other severe weather events.

A Geographic Bonanza

Whether you want to know how much snow fell in the Alps yesterday or what the current water temperature is off the coast of Japan, these observations are available through ArcGIS.

Urban Systems

These layers depict data about human activity in the built world and its economic activities. They include such things as utility infrastructures, parcel boundaries, 3D cityscapes, housing, and employment statistics.

A Geographic Bonanza

Three-dimensional buildings, often in high detail, are being integrated into the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. This is a scene of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Historical Maps

This collection includes scanned raster maps and dynamic image layers. These layers can be viewed individually as a basemap or displayed over a current basemap for comparison purposes.

A Geographic Bonanza

The David Rumsey Map Collection features many popular historical maps such as this one of a America during the Civil War. You will find rare eighteenth- and nineteenth-century North American and South American maps.

A Geographic Bonanza

This article is excerpted from The ArcGIS Book: 10 Big Ideas about Applying The Science of Where, Second Edition.

The goals of this book are to open your eyes to what is now possible with Web GIS and then spur you into action by putting the technology and deep data resources in your hands. The book is available through Amazon.comand other booksellers and for free at