Lesson 5: Using The National Map Web Services in ArcMap

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In this lesson, we will provide an overview and demonstrate how to use The National Map’s web services in a mapping application. Although downloading data from The National Map is a popular option for many users, there are numerous situations where it may be preferable to simply call TNM web services into your mapping application. By using the National Map services, you can minimize data storage issues and eliminate the need to download data on a regular basis to maintain currentness.

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Length: 00:07:52

Location Taken: US

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Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Lesson 5, Using The National Map Web Services in ArcMap. In this lesson, we will provide an overview and demonstrate how to use The National Map’s web services in a mapping application. Although downloading data from The National Map is a popular option for many users, there are numerous situations where it may be preferable to simply call TNM web services into your mapping application.  By using the National Map services, you can minimize data storage issues and eliminate the need to download data on a regular basis to maintain currentness.

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to use The National Map web services in a mapping application by adding TNM services as an ArcGIS Server REST service.

For this lesson, we will use Esri’s ArcGIS software.  USGS has an Enterprise License Agreement with Esri, and any USGS staff can request a software license from the Enterprise GIS Team within the Office of Enterprise Information.

This abbreviated list of services shows the service URLs that we will add to ArcMap, in order to access the Base Map Services, Carto Overlay Services, Elevation Overlay Services, and Hydrography Overlay Services.

Please note that USGS service URLs are subject to change, therefore please refer to this link to gather the most up-to-date service URLs: https://apps.nationalmap.gov/services//  

The National Map publishes over 49 services containing a variety of basemaps and specialized GIS data. Service URLs are case-sensitive, and all are available through SSL connections by using the https protocol.

Let’s get started. There are several ways to call TNM’s services into ArcGIS.  We will demonstrate a quick way to set up the usage of TNM services in ArcMap, so that the services are easily accessible for repeated use. First, locate the ArcMap program on your computer, open the application, and begin with a new blank map.

Next, within ArcMap, click on the “Catalog” icon. This is the icon that looks like a file cabinet. Then click the pushpin icon to pin the Catalog pane open.

In the Catalog pane which has now appeared, locate the “GIS Servers” folder, and expand the folder by clicking on the plus sign.

Select “Add ArcGIS Server”, and then double-click it.

In the popup window that appears, select “Use GIS Services”, then click “Next”.

Next, enter the Server URL for TNM “Base Map Services”, which we referenced earlier.

Then click Finish. You can see a new entry has been added in the Catalog for the Base Map Services.

Click on the plus sign to expand and view the list of available layers. These tile cached base maps offer excellent performance across all scales (from world to 1:18,000) in a simple-to-use, single-layer map service.

To add one of these layers to your map, drag and drop one of them from the Catalog pane into the map pane.  Here, we will add the “USGSTopo” service to the map.

The layers in The National Map services are scale dependent so the resolution will increase as you zoom in.

Return to the Catalog pane, and add the Carto Overlay Services, by following the same procedure.  Select Add ArcGIS Server, and double-click it.  Select Use GIS Services and click Next.  Then enter the carto service URL, and click Finish.   

Expand the layer to see the available services within the Carto overlay services.

Select a layer, then drag and drop it into the map pane.  Here we are adding the map indices layer.

Next, add the Elevation Overlay Services URL, and expand the layer.

Select the 3DEP Elevation service layer, then drag and drop it into the map pane.

Lastly, let’s add the Hydrography Overlay Services URL. This layer’s display is scale-dependent, and its features are not shown at the national level.  First, let’s turn off the elevation layer and the map index, and then zoom in to an area of interest.

Now add the Hydrography Overlay Services URL, and expand the layer.

Select the NHD service layer and drag and drop it into the map pane.

Let’s turn off the USGSTopo layer to see the NHD layer alone.

Expand the NHD layer in the Table of Contents pane.  You can see that the NHD features that are visible at the current scale have checkmarks in black, while features not visible at this scale have gray checkmarks.

Looking in the Catalog pane at the list of services available at each URL, you may notice what seems like duplicative layers among them and wonder which is preferable for your use.  For example, you can see several different NHD layers. In general, the cached tile basemap services provided at the “basemap” URL work well at scales from World to 1:9,000.  If you are mapping at larger scales, such as those below 1:9,000, the hydro overlay services are likely preferable to use.

Again, a complete list of The National Map service endpoints is available at https://apps.nationalmap.gov/services/

Further information on how to use the Services is available through the “How to Use” link at the upper right of the webpage.

If you have a particular interest in elevation data services, you can learn more about the Dynamic Elevation Web Service in Lesson 10f. The elevation map service creates multi-resolution visualizations on the fly, and allows access to the underlying data for analysis and visualization in GIS software.

If you use ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Online there is additional functionality to the web services. Services such as NHD and WBD allows users to change labeling and symbology, as well as identify features. To do this expand the service and add the layers (not the whole service) that you want on your map.

The layers will load with the default symbology and can be changed to suit your needs.

In this lesson, we discussed how to use The National Map’s web services in ArcMap.  We added four service URLs to ArcMap using the “Add GIS Services” function in Catalog, we expanded the services in Catalog to see what layers are available, and we demonstrated how to drag and drop layers from Catalog into the map pane.  The National Map web services provide a quick and useful way to access the most current National Map data for use in mapping applications, without the inherent limitations of downloaded data.