Become part of the GIS of the World

As a community-fueled effort, thousands of contributors have shared their best maps, apps, and data with the world.

Feel free to browse their work to get a sense of what people are contributing or read the FAQ to learn more.

Why join us? You will get to work with our team of curators who help improve your content and ensure it reaches a wide audience, an audience numbering in the millions.

The Living Atlas of the World designates content in ArcGIS Online as the best of the best. We can all use and benefit from this wealth of information.


Collections are organized by theme to make exploring and discovering ready-to-use apps, maps, and data effortless. Use this content to enhance the work you do every day. ArcGIS Online, Portal for ArcGIS, and ArcGIS Pro users can learn more about how to use the Living Atlas.

The Living Atlas is a collaborative effort between users, partners, and Esri. Whether it’s contributing data or nominating your maps and apps, there is a way for you to get involved.

Why Contribute?

There are numerous reasons organizations and users choose to contribute to the Living Atlas of the World. The Living Atlas places your content among the best of ArcGIS Online, making users more likely to choose you authoritative contributions. Your content will reach a broad audience, and you will be helping to build the GIS of the world. The My Contributions tab makes it easy to nominate your items for Living Atlas inclusion, and many enjoy the collaboration that takes place between the contributors and the curators.

Through the Community Maps Program, Esri hosts your data online for free in relevant Community Maps products, making it easier and more cost-effective to build maps and apps. You will become part of a collaborative effort with hundreds of participating organizations. You will always retain ownership and control over the data you provide, and your organization will be given credit and recognition for helping to build the Living Atlas.

Success Stories

Many organizations have benefited from using the Living Atlas of the World. From nominating maps and apps to contributing data, these stories showcase ways to get involved and the benefits.

MarineCadastre.gov Has the Living Atlas Swimming in Ocean Data

Shining a Spotlight on the Environment

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan Introducing the Ecological Marine Units

Add your Data to Esri's Basemaps

Through Esri's Community Maps Program your organization can contribute its local geographic content to Esri’s Living Atlas of the World. The data will be published and hosted by Esri as part of ArcGIS Online maps and layers. Everything from basemap layers such as parks and trees to stream gauge data can be contributed. Your data is integrated with data from other providers to improve and enhance the maps and layers.

This program is available to any Esri user organization and other geographic data providers interested in making their data content broadly available to their customer base as well as the larger GIS community.

What data can you contribute?

Esri Community Maps works with authoritative GIS data contributors to build a Living Atlas of the World consisting of reference and thematic maps covering a wide variety of topics. Community Maps members participate by contributing data in one or more of the following categories.

Basemap layers

Basemap layers

The ArcGIS ready-to-use basemaps are built from the best available data sources, and many of them are enhanced with contributed content from authoritative users. For most organizations, this will be the way in which they participate in Community Maps. Learn more.



ArcGIS includes detailed basemap imagery for the world, consisting of the best available data from both commercial and community sources. Your organization can enhance this ArcGIS imagery by contributing your recent, submeter-resolution imagery. Learn more.

Land elevation and bathymetry

Topo Bathy Hillshade

ArcGIS includes an elevation map featuring topography (land elevation) and bathymetry (water depths). Slope, elevation-tinted and multidirectional hillshade are also included. Elevation powers 3D scenes. If your organization has high-resolution elevation data, you can contribute to Community Maps. Learn more.

Hydrology and stream gauges

Watershed tool and Hydrology

The ArcGIS World Hydrology basemap and Live Steam Gauges layer provide a reference map of the world's water resources and real-time observations of river depth and flow rate, respectively. You organization can participate by contributing your hydrology and stream gauge layer. Learn more.

Urban Observatory themes

Urban Observatory

Understanding precedes action. The Urban Observatory is an interactive collection of data that enables side-by-side comparison of cities around the world in order to make our planet more understandable. Learn more.

Community Maps contributors

The number of organizations that have seen the benefit of integrating their accurate, up-to-date map layers into the online products of Esri Community Maps has reached several hundred and is growing each year. Use the map below to find out if an organization in your area is already contributing to the World Topographic Map.

For a complete listing of all current contributors to the four ArcGIS Online Community Maps basemaps use the links below:

The Community Maps contribution process

Contributing to Esri Community Maps is easy. The process is illustrated below and explained in the following sections.

Contribution process


Organizations that want to join Esri Community Maps begin by using the online Community Maps Contributor App to provide relevant information, including their contact information, the area of interest (geography), and the type of map layers they intend to contribute. Once the application is complete, the Community Maps team will contact the organization to verify information and provide guidance on moving forward with the program.


Before contributing to Community Maps, an organization needs to prepare its content to make sure that it will be uploaded successfully and published quickly. Data preparation steps will vary depending on what type of data (for example, basemap layers, elevation, imagery) an organization is contributing.


Once an organization's application is approved, the organization can provide the Community Maps team with the content it wants to contribute. Map data contributions that are 1 GB or smaller can be uploaded via the online Community Maps Contributor App. The Community Maps team will make alternate contribution upload arrangements for larger data contributions.


When a contribution is made to Community Maps, the content undergoes a review for completeness, accuracy, and integration into the relevant ArcGIS Online basemaps. The contributing organization participates in this review, providing feedback and helping to resolve issues when necessary.


Once the review has been completed to the satisfaction of the Community Maps team and the contributor, the contribution is completed and the content is published in the relevant basemaps, where it can be leveraged by the contributor and other interested parties.

Prepare your basemap data contribution

Esri Community Maps accepts contributions of basemap data as a file geodatabase output from the Community Maps Data Preparation Tools. You can see the workflow illustrated below.

Community Maps Data Preparation Tools workflow

The Community Maps Data Preparation Tools offer a fast and simple contribution option. With these tools you can migrate your basemap data layers into a Community Maps file geodatabase, which can be quickly uploaded and processed by the Esri Community Maps team. There is no need to adopt a new data schema—you simply open the tool for the layer you intend to contribute; select the appropriate features from your source data; designate a label field, if necessary; and execute the tool. The migration and reformatting of the data to the Community Maps schema are taken care of for you. If your data is in the Local Government Information Model, using the tools is quick and easy. To learn more about these tools, explore the following resources:

For a quick explanation of the data prep tools, view the Community Maps Data Preparation Tools - Part 1 and Community Maps Data Preparation Tools - Part 2 videos.

Get the help you need

The Living Atlas of the World is integrated directly into the ArcGIS platform. Learn more about how to use it by clicking the links below.

ArcGIS Online
Quick Exercises
ArcGIS Pro
Portal for ArcGIS
User Help
Administrator Guide
Learn ArcGIS Exercises
Contribute Your Best Maps and Apps

We are always looking for great maps, apps, and data. Many of your items probably already meet the minimum requirements for nomination. Contribute these items to the Living Atlas and help us build the GIS of the world.

Contribute Data to Community Maps

Do you have data that can become part of our community-supported maps and layers? If so, contribute today and see how your data can help power the world. From campuses to nations, let your data benefit others.

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