Real-time GIS

Putting the "Live" in Living Atlas of the World

The Living Atlas derives its name from the idea that it is an ever-changing collection of resources from around the world. While some layers update more than others, one collection is updated in an automated manner as soon as the source data is available. We call these the “Live Feeds.” They are not only some of the most popular resources in the Living Atlas, but are also relied upon by millions of users to provide reliable information for weather, natural disaster, and environmental applications.  

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the Live Feeds services, along with other near real-time data available in the Living Atlas from Esri and its partners.

Also, check out this blog for ideas on how to build customized maps from layers in the Living Atlas.

weather feeds

Weather Feeds

Weather events evolve rapidly, and decision support tools require reliable, authoritative data. We generate our weather-related Live Feeds from the official U.S. and global analyses from the NOAA National Weather Service. These feeds are scripted to update as soon as the NWS issues a new alert, guidance or data product.

Item Name Source Update Frequency
Short-Term Weather Warnings NOAA National Weather Service 1 minute
Weather Watches and Warnings NOAA National Weather Service 5 minutes
Current Weather Conditions NOAA National Weather Service 1 hour
Storm Reports NOAA National Weather Service 1 hour
National forecast models NOAA National Weather Service 6 hours
Smoke Forecast NOAA National Weather Service 6 hours
National Water Model NOAA National Weather Service 6 hours

While not generated by the Esri Live Feeds methods, NOAA also contributes real-time GOES satellite imagery and NEXRAD radar mosaics that can be merged with any of these layers.

disaster feeds

Disaster Feeds

Like the weather feeds, disaster-related services are aggregated from official sources. Earthquake data from the U.S. Geological Survey PAGER program updates in real-time, and has a rolling archive based on intensity (i.e., more intense events are kept longer in the service). Hurricane forecasts, issued by the National Hurricane Center and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, are typically updated every 6 hours. However, under special circumstances, more frequent advisories may be issued. The 15 minute update frequency will catch any of these updates. The Flooding Map is a query of the Live Stream Gauges layer (see Earth Observations Feeds below), displaying only the stream gauges undergoing flooding conditions. Wildfire mapping has a few caveats that are described in this blog.

Item Name Source Update Frequency
Recent Earthquakes USGS 5 minutes
Active Hurricanes NOAA National Weather Service 15 minutes
Recent Hurricanes NOAA National Weather Service 15 minutes
USA Wildfire Activity NASA 15 minutes
Flooding Map Esri 1 hour

 

Earth Observation Feeds

A variety of Earth systems variables are available in the Living Atlas in near real-time. Some of these are feature services, while others are time enabled image services that include raster functions and templates for use online or in ArcGIS Pro.

Item Name Source Update Frequency
MODIS Thermal Activity NASA 15 minutes
Stream Gauges Esri 1 hour
HYCOM ocean model (beta) HYCOM 1 day
Sea Surface Temperature NOAA 1 day
Current Drought Conditions NOAA 1 week
Global hydrology analysis NASA, NOAA 1 month
satellite

Multispectral Imagery Feeds

While not technically associated with the Esri Live Feeds, these satellite imagery products can provide near real-time situational awareness. The multispectral band combinations and raster functions can be used for a variety of applications.

Item Name Source Update Frequency
Sentinel-2 ESA, Amazon Web Services 1 day; 5 day revisit
Landsat USGS, Amazon Web Services 1 day; 16 day revisit

Additional Resources

One of the great values of the Living Atlas is that it’s more than just data layers – it includes web maps, apps, Story Maps, and resources such as this blog. Here’s a few that relate to the Live Feeds. I’ll try to update this as more resources become available (or people tell me about them).

Apps

Severe Weather Public Information Map

Hurricanes Public Information Map

Wildfire Public Information Map

Flooding Public Information Map

Earthquakes Public Information Map

Esri Drought Tracker

Stylized fire and smoke app

 

Blogs and How-To

Blog on wildfire: Mapping the Inferno

Blog on weather: Weather Just the Way You Want It

Blog: Mapping earthquakes

Blog: Using Arcade expressions to calculate new fields

Story Map: Configuring Hurricane Apps

Story Map: Configuring Wildfire Apps

 

Webinars

Webinars on using Living Atlas for disaster management

Webinar on using weather and climate data in ArcGIS

About the author

Dan leads development of the Living Atlas of the World Environment content, which includes information about Earth's land, ocean, atmosphere, and ecosystems. Prior to Esri, Dan worked at NOAA for two decades, leading data visualization efforts for research, communications, and education.

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