GIS Resources

ArcGIS Online 

ArcGIS Online by ESRI is a new mapping program that uses the cloud to store data. This allows users to easily access their maps and mapping technology in the office as well as in the field. It is a relatively new program that is becoming very popular due to its user friendliness. ESRI provides extensive online support for users who are unfamiliar to mapping software and ArcGIS Online has various subscription plans in order to meet the different needs of their users. The purchase of a subscription also allows the buyer to use mapping apps on their smartphones and tablets such as Collector which can be used by people in the field to collect accurate data. The accessibility of the program provides the opportunity for anyone to create and share fascinating maps.

ESRI Support Webpage 

The ESRI support website is a great place to start when looking for mapping software advice. The main webpage provides links to helpful articles on all ESRI applications such as ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, and ArcGIS Online. The website not only offers information on how to use the software but also provides tips, tricks, and new ideas on how to present spatial data. ESRI also has support professionals available to answer questions and help with issues that may occur. ESRI customers receive standard support for one year after purchasing one of their products. After the first year of a purchase users can subscribe to different support plans.

ESRI GIS Training 

ESRI provides online training videos to help users learn how to use their mapping software. The videos can be geared towards individuals or organizations who wish to better their understanding of mapping software. Some of the videos are completely free while others can be accessed by users who have subscribed to a support plan or who are still within one year of purchasing ESRI mapping software. The training webpage has a list of online and offline classes on a wide range of topics that are offered by ESRI. All of these classes cost money and the amount depends on the length of the program. The offline courses are at designated training locations that can be found across the United States.

iTunes U

iTunes U is a branch of iTunes that offers free videos of University lectures that discuss such things as how to use mapping software. iTunes U and the lectures are free and are very varied which allows users to chose lectures that will discuss anything that they may need assistance with. Some of the lectures explain older versions of ESRI mapping software that are relatively out of date, however, they are still helpful to users who are new to mapping data and many components remain the same from the old ESRI software. iTunes U also has podcasts of lectures on mapping software.

Tufts GIS Tip Sheets ArcGIS10

This webpage is a collection of helpful documents and websites on how to use ArcGIS10. The documents are organized based on what the user is trying to learn which makes the webpage very easy to navigate. All of the documents offer aid in using ArcGIS10, so if a user is trying to learn how to use other mapping software this webpage may not be the most helpful.

MIT Open CourseWare

This is a free online course from MIT entitled, “Spatial Database Management and Advanced Geographic Information Systems”. All of the materials for this course can be retrieved and downloaded through the links on the side of the webpage. It is a great option for people who would like to take a traditional mapping software class without having to pay a fee. The class was created in 2003, so some of the topics are a little out of date. Nonetheless, the class can help anyone who wishes to become accustomed to ESRI mapping software. It is a bonus that the course is free!

Penn State Open Educational Resources 

This webpage has a list of Penn State courses from various departments, and some of the online courses posted from the Department of Geography are GIS courses. This website has up to date classwork that uses newer mapping software. Some classes help people to grow accustomed to working with GIS while others look at specific applications of the software. The wide variety of courses allows users to select a subject that is most relevant to what they wish to learn. The access to the courses and materials are free, but to earn academic credit and access to Penn State faculty you must register for the class or classes you wish to take.


Coursera is a website that allows universities to post their classes online so they can be accessed by anyone. This specific GIS program, “Map Your World with GIS”, was created at UC Davis and consists of 5 individual courses. The course materials can be accessed for free, however, if you wish to have your materials graded, receive a final grade, and earn a course certificate then you must purchase the courses.

Class Central Free Online GIS Courses 

This webpage offers a list of all of the available online GIS courses that are offered by universities. Some of the courses are from Coursera, but other online options are also represented. The majority of the courses have been posted within the last year thus ensuring that the mapping software being used is relatively new. This website also provides rankings, reviews, and prices for the course in order to help users choose the class that will best fit their needs.

New York State GIS Association

The website of the NYS GIS Association is helpful for individuals and organizations who want to learn how to use mapping software as well as connect with other GIS professionals. The website features a webpage of many available online trainings and webinars for people who are new to mapping software and it is updated often with upcoming GIS conventions. The website also has a page on emerging GIS software including a GIS Return on Investment Calculator which can be used to help determine the possible benefits of adding the use of GIS into the individual’s jurisdiction.

WolfGIS APEX –Available on the iTunes App Store

WolfGIS is a mobile GIS mapping tool that is free to download, but then requires the user to purchase a subscription. It has many map-based tools that are very similar to ArcGIS and it is able to share large amounts of data. The app works well for both individuals and organizations who would like to collect, manage, and display spatial data. WolfGIS does not require the use of desktop GIS software and it can be used by someone who has not had any previous mapping software training.

GIS Pro – Available on the iTunes App Store

This app is better suited for organizations versus an individual user, but it does have a counter app, GIS Kit, that could work for one person. GIS Pro does not require desktop GIS software or previous GIS training. It can be used offline to collect new spatial data and the app allows you to manually draw on basemaps that can be downloaded through the app. GIS Pro also makes it easy to export and share shapefiles, CSV files, and custom feature class templates.

ESRI Apps – Apps can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store

ESRI has created many apps for phones and tablets that accompany their ArcGIS software. Collector allows the users to collect and update data in the field and then sync that data with other mapping software. Navigator for ArcGIS is another app that helps workforces navigate to where they need to go in the most efficient way. The app allows you to navigate on custom maps that were created through Collector or ArcGIS software. Operations Dashboard is an app that is used by organizations around the world to monitor deliveries, services, people, vehicles, and other daily operations. It can help users to keep track and receive up to date data on major events or mundane activities. The Explorer app allows organizations to share, discover, analyze, and use maps on Mac or iOS devices. Users can view information about assets, search for places and features, and sketch on the map. There are 27 total ESRI map apps that can all be found via the provided link. Most apps are available with a purchase of ArcGIS Online or Desktop, but some are considered to be “premium apps” which means that they will require an additional purchase.

Map Plus – Available on the iTunes App Store

Map Plus can be downloaded for free but certain features require an additional purchase. The app allows users to view and edit custom maps. It can be used online or offline to collect and edit data. Thousands of online maps can be imported into the app as well as KML/KMZ files. It can also manage and share mass data. Map Plus is updated fairly often and is frequently adding new features.


Mappt is an app that can be used on Android tablet devices. It is a data capture and management tool that lets you have access to your spatial data in the field disconnected from your corporate system. It is user friendly and does not require a large amount of previous mapping software knowledge.

MapIt GIS – GPS Data Collector  

MapIt GIS helps with GPS data collection and any GPS / GNSS based surveys. It can also be used to calculate areas or distances and all of the data collected through the app can be organized on layers that can be exported to many different formats. MapIt GIS would work well for land and field surveyors.

GIS Cloud 

GIS Cloud is made up of seven different apps that can be used for different purposes. Some of the apps are completely free – or free for one user – but others cost money. The apps can be used for mobile data collection and data sharing. Other apps allow you to build and share maps and translate addresses into coordinates that can be displayed on maps. All of the apps are cloud based so data can be accessed anywhere the cloud can. The different purposes for all of the apps allow users to download exactly the program that they need without it having capabilities that will never be used.


EpiCollect5 is a web and mobile app where the user can create forms and project websites for the purpose of data collection. The forms can then be loaded on the mobile app for in the field data collection. Then the data can be viewed centrally at the project website. The application can be used on android, iPhone, and iPad. EpiCollect5 is completely free.

Open Data Kit (ODK) 

ODK can be used for free and is an open-source set of tools that can be used for the management and collection of data. It is similar to EpiCollect5 in that you build a form or survey that you then send out to a workforce that can collect data in the field. Once data has been collected it can be aggregated on a server where it can be exported to an appropriate format. It does not allow the user to actually map anything, but it is a free tool that can be used to collect data in the field. The website also has a lot of helpful articles on how to use ODK and what to do if something isn’t working correctly.

MyGIS – Available on the iTunes App Store

MyGIS is a very simple and free GIS system, but it sill allows users to manage their own maps. The app can add data points that have been collected in the field to an existing map. The user can then go back and edit the point data by adding more information. Line data can also be inserted into maps created in MyGIS. The app saves maps so that they can be accessed in other apps such as dropbox.