Yakima, WA: Updating the City’s Basemaps with Esri's Community Maps Program

January 22, 2020

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This article is brought to you by Esri

Esri’s Community Maps Program is growing, thanks to communities around the world that are sharing their authoritative data and services with the greater Esri GIS community. A benefit to Esri’s user base, the program accepts submissions from thousands of organizations around the globe to enhance Esri’s basemaps, imagery, addresses, land elevation, and bathymetry.

The GIS Department for the City of Yakima, Washington, routinely shares map layers and high-resolution imagery to update community basemaps through Esri’s Community Maps Program. Updated every three weeks, Esri’s basemaps are curated and made available through ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, the foremost collection of ready-to-use data layers, maps, and apps.

“Basemaps available from Esri’s Living Atlas are an essential part of our local maps and apps. They get used every day by all City of Yakima Departments,” said Tom Sellsted, supervising senior analyst for the City of Yakima.

Localization and customization are key driving factors for cities to participate in the Community Maps Program. Contributions enable communities the ability to place intricate details of their neighborhoods on the map. Communities can participate by contributing the following:

·        Areas of Interest (AOI): labels, streets, parking lots, sports facilities, landscaping

·        Building footprints and addresses, including rooftop points

·        Land elevation, bathymetry, hydrology, and stream gauges

·        Basemap layers and high-resolution imagery


Digitizing Yakima with Community Maps

With the release of Esri’s new Community Maps Editor app, participants in the Community Maps Program can easily create new features and submit suggestions for map improvement. The Community Maps Editor is a web app that enables ArcGIS users to edit Esri basemaps by adding detailed features for universities, schools, parks, landmarks, and other special areas of interest. Contributors access the app through an ArcGIS Online Organizational Account and join the Community Maps Editor Group.

One way to digitize layers is to use Esri’s World Imagery Service to create and edit features in the Community Maps Editor app. Yakima, a contributor of high-resolution imagery, is able to leverage community imagery to add intricate details to their city basemap, such as adding schools and sport fields. By using the Community Maps Editor App, Yakima has enhanced 40 unique areas of interest that include over 16,000 new map features.


Yakima has been successful at responding to the Community Maps Program’s enhanced sharing workflows. The efficiency of the Community Maps Editor app enables users to create large-scale features and add more detail to Esri’s basemaps quickly and seamlessly.

“The process has become even easier. We publish our map layers as open data services and with the new service-based delivery option, our authoritative data is collected, processed, and freely-hosted by Esri. No extra services are required on our servers, allowing us to use our resources for other purposes”, Sellsted said 


Improving Yakima’s GIS Assets

The Community Maps Editor app is designed to help organizations create new features and to share this useful data with the greater Esri user community. To help cities become even more efficient, contributors can also extract these features to multiple formats including CSV, File Geodatabase (.zip), KML, and Shapefile (.zip).

Once Yakima completes an AOI, the city can extract and incorporate this data into their GIS, where the analyst can further enrich and better attribute the data, thereby improving the city’s GIS assets. 


“Creating campus level detail adds real context to the basemap. Before we just had some building outlines. Now there are parking lots, walkways, sport fields and much more”, Sellsted said.

Join the Community

Yakima isn’t the only community participating in the Community Maps Program. In just over a year, nearly 1,000 ArcGIS Online users from around the world have joined the program and contributed. To get started contributing, visit the Community Maps Program website and decide how you’d like to participate: Provide Feedback, Edit Features, or Share Data.

Your input makes a difference! Let’s get started.

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