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Mapping, GIS, and Remote Sensing

A guide to mapping resources, including GIS (geographic information systems), at the UNT Libraries and on the Internet. The guide also provides links to geospatial and other data that can be downloaded and mapped.

ArcGIS for Desktop

ArcGIS is a package of mapping software programs from ESRI.

UNT provides access to ArcGIS on all student-access PCs at each UNT Libraries location and Student Computing Labs across campus. Faculty and staff can download AcrGIS to a UNT computer, via the UNT Software Center (accessible through the Microsoft start menu).

Accessing ArcGIS in the UNT Libraries

On Library and Student Computing Labs computers, go to the Start menu and then look for the ArcGIS folder. Within this folder, you will see several applications: 

screen shot of arc g i s available on library computers

ArcMap 10.x is the "flagship" mapping program where most of your mapping, analysis and modeling needs will be completed. A video series on essential ArcGIS elements can be found here: ArcGIS Essential Training.

ArcCatalog is a handy program to use because it helps you organize your GIS files. Two file management benefits that ArcCatalog specializes in are:

  1. Since shapefiles have multiple file extensions that, when packaged together, make one shapefile, ArcCatalog allows you to view each shapefile grouping as one file. 
  2. Geodatabases cannot be edited using Windows Explorer or My Computer, but can be in ArcCatalog.

ArcGlobe and ArcScene both utilize 3D perspective natively. ArcGlobe is ESRI's "version" of GoogleEarth. ArcScene is good for visualizing data that contains significant elevation information (e.g., a stream channel or the skyline of New York City).

ArcGIS for Desktop Help is an offline version of the online help that you can find here at the ArcGIS Documentation Archive. The Help pages are quite helpful for answering quick questions about a tool, analysis method or data compatibility. GIS Tutorial 1 & 2 and GIS Tutorial 3 are available for use at Sycamore Library and are located in the Reference section.

ArcGIS in all of its constituent parts supports the Python programming language using the ArcPy module.  Python can automate repetitive analytical tasks or take an out-of-the-box functionality and make it customized to fit your needs.​ GIS Tutorial for Python Scripting is an ebook available for use from the UNT Libraries.

ModelBuilder comes with ArcGIS - it is Esri's "visual programming" environment where you can drag and drop tools to create an automated process without needing any coding knowledge. Getting to Know ArcGIS ModelBuilder may be of interest for those who do not want to get into full-blown programming.

Additional ArcGIS Software

ArcGIS Online takes the most commonly used functionality from Desktop and puts it into your browser (e.g., Chrome) so you can easily create and share your data without having to install additional software. The basic version of ArcGIS Online is free and you can set up an account here. UNT does have an ArcGIS Online Organizational account available for limited use - please contact your GIS Librarian for more information. If using Web App Builder, this website has a few additional tools that might be helpful. For an introduction to Web GIS capabilities/tutorial, check out Getting to Know Web GIS.

To extend the capabilities of the ArcGIS Online Organizational account, UNT has two optional packages:

  1. Community Analyst - up-to-date demographic and tapestry data that can be easily searched to answer a variety of questions (see image below for an example)
  2. Business Analyst - similar to Community Analyst, except with a focus on businesses and marketing potential

This screen capture illustrates the results of a SmartSearch in Community Analyst to highlight areas with high rates of diabetes, obesity, no car ownership and high percentages of poverty that could be used to identify areas that could benefit from community assistance programs:

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