For nearly 50 years, Esri has been developing and supporting GIS software. What is less known is that for more than 20 years it has also been collecting and curating data and making it available to its users. “It has become harder and harder to acquire better, more consistent, and trusted data and to figure out which data is the best,” says Sean Breyer, program manager for Esri’s Living Atlas. This large team has the sole mission of increasing the content in its platform with regards to demographics, natural resources, weather, landscape areas, oceans, etc.
“Opening ArcGIS and starting with a blank slate is not the way GIS works anymore. Providing rich content at the beginning of your project will make things go much quicker. In the five years since The Living Atlas started, we have seen a massive up-tick in the use of this ready-to-use content, in the order of hundreds of millions of views a year.”
“Sometimes, we build the data or bring it to life ourselves for some federal sources that don’t have a mandate to make it ready for the GIS community,” says Breyer. “In other cases, we partner with large data providers. One of the biggest challenges there is finding good, authoritative data that is available and licensable in such a way that we can distribute it to our entire GIS community.”