Background Materials (Events)

ArcGIS Desktop Fundamentals (Archived Face-to-Face learning)

ArcGIS Desktop is a geographic information system (GIS) that is used for creating geospatial maps and other graphics, compiling geographic data, and analyzing geospatial information. Colleagues working across the humanitarian and development space will be able to use the skills learned in these modules and the geospatial analyses/graphics generated to illustrate spatial patterns, climate migration... view more

There are 7 sessions in this course

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Lab 1: The ArcMap Platform, Creating a Map

Session Summary

Lab #1: The ArcMap Platform, Creating a Map

Learning objectives

A Geographic Information System is a tool used for building, managing, analyzing, and displaying geographic data. A map created using a GIS contains layers, which are collections of related geographic data. Based upon the purpose of the map you are creating, you can choose what layers to add and display. 
Vector layers contain features, or geographic objects. For example, a layer of cities will contain different cities, or a layer of rivers will contain information on many different rivers. Geographic features can be presented in three ways- points, lines, or polygons. Points are generally used to represent small features on large maps, such as cities on a map of Europe. Lines are used to represent narrow features, such as rivers or highways. Polygons typically represent features with boundaries- such as countries or lakes. Data in point, line, or polygon form are collectively known as vector data. 
Aside from vector data, layers in ArcMap can also come in raster format. Raster layers are not collections of geographic features, like vectors, but rather consist of continuous data (data that does not have a distinct ‘shape’- such as elevation, temperature, or rainfall). A raster is a matrix of cells, similar to the individual pixels in a digital photograph. Each cell represents a certain area on the ground, and contains the information for that location. 


1. Explore the ArcGIS platform

2. Identify basic tools and their functions

3. Learn layer symbology

4. Create a high-quality map for publication