ArcGIS Dashboards

Add Context to your Dashboards using Data Expressions + Living Atlas

ArcGIS Dashboards provide an easy way to communicate vital spatial information to those who need it. Alongside, ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World contains a wide range of authoritative spatial content from trusted data sources. Pairing these two together allows us to quickly create informative maps, and with the introduction of Data Expressions within ArcGIS Dashboards the possibilities are continuing to expand.

In the blog Introducing Data Expressions in ArcGIS Dashboards, my colleague Vivek Malleshappa explains how you can now use an Arcade FeatureSet to pull additional data into your dashboards. This is extremely powerful for two main reasons: you don’t need to own the layer, and you don’t have to add the layer into your map. Combining this functionality with the rich amount of content within Living Atlas opens new doors for dashboard creation. You can add context about the population, environment, infrastructure, and so much more. You can even add new elements to your existing dashboards without making any alterations to your web maps.

Here’s an example dashboard showing school districts in the US along with socioeconomic characteristics related to the population living within that school district. You can use the select tool on the map to learn more about the schools in a district, see the racial profile of the population living within the district, or gain insight about how many children are facing hardships within that district. You can see how the various indicators change from district to district, providing a comparison of the community characteristics.

Click on the image to open the dashboard in a new window

The (not so) secret is that this entire dashboard was created using Living Atlas content: the districts, the schools, and the demographics shown in the indicators. The real secret is that the map itself doesn’t contain any of the demographic layers. All of the socioeconomic indicators in this dashboard were brought in using Data Expressions to access the tabular and spatial information from four different Living Atlas layers:

With a few lines of Arcade (which you can copy from this blog), you can access the data from a public hosted feature layer from ArcGIS Online just as you would normally build dashboard elements from the layers in your maps.

Here’s what you need to access data from a layer:

Let’s run through an example to see how you can find these two things.

Find layers in Living Atlas

To find the information listed above, you’ll first need to find a layer containing the information you want to bring in. One way to do this is to search/browse content from the Living Atlas website and filter the item type to only find “Layers”. To narrow down the search to hosted feature layers, you can type the phrase type: “Feature Service”.

Click this link to get directly to this search.

You can browse through the various categories or use a search phrase to find content related to your interests. For my example, I wanted to explore how school districts differ throughout the country. To do this, I used the search phrase above and added “current ACS” before it. I then selected the “People” category to narrow down my search further. This brought me to a wide range of freely available layers containing the most current American Community Survey (ACS) data available from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Within this collection of layers, I found topics related to education, at risk populations, and more. One layer that is particularly suitable for this dashboard is the ACS Context for Child Well-Being layer which contains attributes from many different ACS tables regarding the youth population in the US.

To learn more about a layer, the Item Details page offers us an in-depth view into what is available. The description for each Living Atlas layer will provide metadata about the source, and the Data tab shows us the data table and which fields are available in the layer.

Once you have found a layer you want to use, the item ID can be found in the URL:

Scroll down on the page to find the service URL and open it to see the layers:

For our example, one of the things I want to include are attributes from the Census Tracts layer, so I’ll use layer 2:

Now that we have the two things we need to add a layer, let’s show how to add it into the dashboard.

Use Living Atlas layers in your dashboards using Data Expressions

For each layer you want to access, you’ll create a Data Expression for that layer. You can reuse Data Expressions, so once you only have to write the expression once. To do so, add an element to your dashboard and choose to add a Data Expression instead of a layer from your map.

You’ll then use the FeatureSetbyPortalItem function to access the layer. The interface has built-in help for how to use this function (seen on the right in the screenshot below), but you can also copy the code snippet below.

This expression defines the portal (usually https://www.arcgis.com), the item ID you found earlier, and the layer ID you found earlier. Optionally, you can define the specific fields you need and if you need the geometries or not. By default, the dashboard will call to all fields and will bring in the geometries.

Now that the dashboard knows which layer to access, you can build indicators or charts into your dashboard as you would with any other layer. In this example, I want to filter the Census Tracts by the school district boundaries in order to see how many children have no broadband internet at home. This is a field from the layer I just brought in, so I can configure as normal.

I’ll follow the same process to bring in the other three ACS layers from Living Atlas. You can even re-use a Data Expression for multiple indicators/charts by accessing your Data Expressions the same way you access layers from the map.

To finish this dashboard, I want the numbers to all change when someone selects a district. I set up the a spatial filter within the Layer actions of the map. This will filter the values by the Census Tracts that fall within the district.

Now, when someone clicks on a district, they get a comprehensive view of the socioeconomic factors of the people who live within that district. We can see the racial breakdown of the people who live there, the enrollment of students living within that district, as well as factors related to at-risk students:

This is just one example of how you can use Living Atlas layers within a dashboard using the new Data Expressions. You can create your own filters and indicators for your purposes from the wealth of content which is at your fingertips in Living Atlas.

Considerations/Tips and Tricks

As you apply this method to your own dashboards, here are a few things to keep in mind in regards to performance and Living Atlas content:

Additional Resources

Blog: Introducing Data Expressions in ArcGIS Dashboards

Documentation: Understand data sources – Data expressions

Documentation: Create a data expression

Documentation: Data expression best practices

About the author

I am a Senior Product Engineer on the Living Atlas team at Esri. I work to create clear and concise stories about demographic, socioeconomic, and policy topics using cartography. I also build data layers and tutorials to help others create their own map masterpieces.

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