ArcGIS Living Atlas

Use ArcGIS Living Atlas subscriber content in public maps and apps

Living Atlas of the World is a collection of authoritative maps, data, imagery, tools, and apps authored and published by Esri and partners. It also includes contributions from ArcGIS users worldwide. It is a curated subset of ArcGIS Online items Esri, and the ArcGIS community.


Types of Living Atlas content

Much of the content found in the Living Atlas is available publicly, with no restrictions. Other content is not publicly available by default, and falls into two categories:

Subscriber content is the collection of layers published by Esri that requires an organizational subscription account to access. These are layers such as Landsat 8 imagery, NAIP imagery, landscape analysis layers, and historical maps. Subscriber content is provided as part of your organizational subscription and does not consume any credits.

Premium content is a type of subscriber content. It’s the collection of layers published by Esri that requires an organizational account to access, and also consumes credits. These are layers such as demographic and lifestyle layers.


Identifying subscriber content

When you author a map, one of the places you can search for layers is the Living Atlas. Click Add layer:

Add layer

Then choose Living Atlas:

Add from ArcGIS Living Atlas

A shield indicates subscriber content.

Subscriber content

A shield with a coin indicates premium subscriber content.

Premium subscriber content


Subscriber content and ArcGIS Online search

If you are searching ArcGIS Online, you can identify Living Atlas subscriber content from the badges on the item. This badge indicates subscriber content.

This badge indicates premium subscriber content.


Subscriber content and Map Viewer

When you share a web map using subscriber content, you’ll be notified that others may not be able to view the map.

Premium or subscriber content warning

If you are sharing your map within your organization, using subscriber or premium subscriber content is transparent, since you are sharing it with others that are signed in. If you share the web map outside your organization, viewers will be prompted to authenticate.

Subscriber content and embedding web maps

When using subscriber content in a map you want to embed, you are warned that the map has subscriber content when you save (as shown above). You cannot authorize subscriber content in the HTML for embedding a web map.

Subscriber content in maps used in apps

One of the best ways to share subscriber content with a public audience is to share it using an app. While you cannot use Map Viewer or the embed HTML to share public maps that contain subscriber content, you can create an app that can be shared or embedded for public consumption. Apps let you create a better experience for viewers and built-in options let you authorize subscriber content for public use. See the sections below for more information.


Use subscriber content in configurable apps

ArcGIS Instant Apps make it easy to create and share interactive web applications in ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise. Based on your goals and your audience’s needs, you can select from a variety of app templates. Instant apps are the fastest and simplest way to go from a map to an interactive app. Choose a template, configure tools and options via express or full setup, then share your app.

Subscriber content in the map will automatically be proxied, enabling you to share your app with anyone. Premium subscriber content will be identified and you will be provided an opportunity to authorize its use.

For example, below a map that includes premium subscriber content is being used in the Media Map instant app. The configuration panel provides notification that the map uses premium subscriber content, and provides an opportunity for the app author to authorize access on behalf of public (anonymous) users. Click Authorize to enable premium subscriber content for a public audience.

Authorize premium subscriber content

While the exact appearance and location of this setting may differ from template to template, all configurable apps support this capability. The “classic” configurable app will also prompt to enable all subscriber content, both subscriber and premium subscriber content. The new instant apps automatically enable subscriber content, and only notify when premium subscriber content is used.


Use subscriber content in ArcGIS StoryMaps

When publishing a public story that includes a map using subscriber content, only premium subscriber content is identified. Non-premium subscriber content is automatically authorized for use, without needing additional action. Since premium content consumes credits, the story author will be prompted to authorize the content.


Authorize premium content


Use subscriber content in Esri Story Maps

( Note: Story authors are encouraged to use the new ArcGIS StoryMaps to create stories. However, Esri will continue to maintain the classic Esri Story Map templates for your use. For more information, see the Product road map.)

Subscriber content in a classic Story Map will be detected when in builder mode and you will be prompted to resolve it. When issues are detected, click Fix.

When using My Stories and checking your Story Maps for errors, those with unresolved subscriber content will be identified. Shown below is what appears when a map using subscription content is used in the Story Map. Note that subscriber vs. premium subscriber content is listed separately.

Click Confirm to authorize the subscriber content for public viewers.


Use subscriber content in Web AppBuilder

Web AppBuilder will also identify subscriber content, and provide a way to authorize their public use. In Web AppBuilder, click Attribute and then click the arrow next to Premium content access, as shown below.

Subscriber content will be listed, check the box for Use proxy for each layer you want to authorize for public use.


Use subscriber content in ArcGIS Dashboards

ArcGIS Dashboards will identify subscriber content and provide a way to authorize their public use. In edit mode click the options dropdown (…), then click Subscriber Content.


Then enable subscriber content prior to saving and sharing your dashboard publicly.

Enable subscriber content


Authorize subscriber layers

You can also authorize subscriber content at the layer source; its REST service endpoint. It’s much easier and better to enable public access when a map using the subscriber content is used in a app as described above. However, there may be use cases where you want to pre-authorize layers for public use. For example, when you want to embed a map in your website or blog or when you want to use the Map Viewer.

Note: This workflow currently requires Map Viewer Classic.

In the example below, we will use the Living Atlas 2019 USA Population Density subscription layer. Follow the steps below to authorize it for public use.

Step 1 – In the item details overview, scroll down on the right hand side to find the URL of the service, and click Copy.

Copy service URL

Step 2 – In My Contents, click Add Item, then choose From a URL.

From a URL

Step 3 – The default option is ArcGIS Server web service.

a – Paste the URL obtained in Step 1 above in the URL input. The secure service will be detected, and you will see additional inputs to authenticate for the service.

b – Enter the user name and password to provide authentication for subscription content access.

c – Choose whether you want to store the credentials with the service, or not. If you choose Do not store credentials with service item, then anonymous (public) users will be prompted to sign in. If your goal is to deliver subscription content in public maps and apps, you will want to choose Store credentials with service item to eliminate the need for the viewer to sign in to use the map or app.

d – Enter a title for the item.

e – Choose tags. Since the item is being added from its service endpoint, tags will automatically be added from the service description if they are present. Edit the tags, and/or add your own.

f – Click Add Item when done.

Add item from the web

When finished, share the layer publicly. When adding credentials to the service you may also want to limit usage for premium subscription services. To limit usage go to the item Settings:

Click Limit Usage to view options, choosing those that make the most sense for your usage and needs.

Usage options

Step 4 – Add the subscription layer to a web map.

Add layer

Step 5 – Copy the layer.

Copy layer

Step 6 – Remove the original layer, and save the map with the copied layer and share it publicly.

Remove layer

Step 7 – Open ArcGIS Online Assistant and sign in to your account.

Note that ArcGIS Online Assistant is an unsupported utility toolset that has been developed by Esri staff. It’s commonly used and is reliable. An alternative method would be to edit the map item JSON, but using the Assistant is much easier.

ArcGIS Online Assistant

Step 8 – In the I want to… dropdown choose Update URLs of Services in a Web Map.

Choose Update URLs

Step 9 – Find the map, and swap the the URL shown for the operational layer with the the URL of the authenticated service.

Find the map you saved in Step 6 above and select it.

a – Using the URL of the authenticated service created in Step 3, copy and paste the URL from the item details Overview (see Step 1 above for help) into the Operational Layer URL input box.

b – click Update.

Change layer URL

Swapping the URL of the copied layer will enable it to be used publicly and will also preserve the original pop-up configuration and styling.

Step 10 – Exit ArcGIS Online Assistant, and finalize the map.

You may want to edit the layer name, and consider the default map extent. When finished, save the map.


More information

For more information see:


This article was originally published on January 13, 2018, and has been updated.

About the author

Corporate tech evangelist and senior principal product manager at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping users succeed with the ArcGIS online system. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Follow @bernszukalski or email


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