Greg Bacon Presentation

On Wednesday, November 11th, Greg gave an excellent presentation about the Fairfax County GIS office where he works as an analyst, that supports both county GIS users and the public.  He mentioned the specialized, web-based maps his office produces available online at the Fairfax Geo-Portal Page:(


I enjoyed reviewing the maps, especially the Comprehensive Map Plan, Walkway Maintenance (Greg specifically mentioned this map) and the Historic Imagery Viewer.  One area of Fairfax County I’m interested in is Tyson’s Corner, having worked there for almost 20 years.  The area is undergoing a significant transformation with the metro arrival and more residential housing being built. Tyson’s Corner is changing from a car-oriented, office and shopping center to a high-density, mixed-use area that hopefully will be increasingly pedestrian friendly.

The following screen shot from the Comprehensive Map Plan shows Tyson’s Corner zoning plan:


The following screen shots from the Geo-Portal Historic Imagery Viewer show the Tyson’s Corner intersection of Routes 123 and 7 in 1937, 153, and 1997:


Tysons1953HIV Tysons1997HIV

Tyson’s Corner redevelopment plans are ambitious, and a detailed description was written in the Washingtonian Magazine, April 2015 cover story issue, Capital of The Future. The following image shows a future high density, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly scene:


It still is a challenge to walk around Tyson’s Corner. I used to use the only cross walk on Route 7 at West Park Drive when leaving my Forester at the Stohlman Subaru dealership for repair.  Walking safely is still limited to specific sections where sidewalks were present, but there were, and still are, many obstacles present.  The Geo-Portal Walkway Maintenance map shows the organizations responsible for sidewalks in Fairfax County and the following screenshot shows the pedestrian walkways in Tyson’s Corner:


On November 8, The Washington Post published an article about a group of UVA School of Architecture students assessing Tyson’s walkability:  They encountered many obstacles and plan to monitor pedestrian accessibility as redevelopment progresses.  The following map shows the temperature measured along the route they took in 2014:



Nine New Enhancements to ArcGIS Online

The Fall 2015 issue of ArcNews has an interesting roundup of the new features added to ArcGIS Online (AGO) this past summer. The article is available online at: A complete list of changes made is available at ESRI’s web site: Its important track changes made to take advantage of new features as they become available as AGO is rapidly evolving. To summarize, the enhancements include:

Smart Mapping Transparency

Automatically adjust the size range so symbols, border widths, and transparencies look better across zoom levels.

Workflows and Design

User enabled editing and viewing of standards-based metadata associated with map elements.

Map Viewer, More Adaptable

The user can now sign into AGO directly from the map viewer so no work will be lost from within the viewer.

3D Scene Viewer Improved

Scenes generated in 3D Viewer can now be embedded in a website or shared via email or social media.

Enhanced Analysis

A new Analysis button located prominently at the top of the map viewer allows the user to interactively perform operations such as create viewsheds, watersheds, and trace downstream.

Feature Layer Updates

A new set of data collection templates are available for created hosted feature layers used with Collector for ArcGIS.

Growing Content

Base maps, The Living Atlas, and imagery services have been updated and expanded.

Amplified Apps

Five new AppBuilder themes and several widgets are now available. New widgets, map tools, and feature actions can be created with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript.

Better Administration

Improved account management tools are available to set user and group permissions, accesses, and sharing rights.

GIS 295 Term Project Blog #1


When taking GIS 203 (Cartography), my final project was creating an orienteering map with GIS Desktop using the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) cartographic standards. The map’s purpose is to teach orienteering to first year Scouts in order to pass specific requirements.  As a result, the map is part of a two-page product containing information about calculating bearings and estimating heights, as well as providing a form to enter control point information.

For GIS 295, I want to explore how to create the same map with the same features using a general purpose web-based map creation tool such as ArcGIS Online and a specialized orienteering map tool called Open Orienteering Map ( I plan to devote the three blogs required to describe how the orienteering maps are created with each system – ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Online, and Open Orienteering Map.

ArcGIS Desktop Base Layer Creation

ArcGIS Desktop provides the user with many tools and detailed controls to create any kind of map. While ArcGIS Online and Open Orienteering Map supply default base maps, in ArcGIS Desktop, one must create their own base map layer with the desired scale.  The following steps are what I did to create the base map on ArcGIS Desktop:

  1. Downloaded the 3-meter National Elevation Dataset and hydrology data for Fairfax County from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Geospatial Data Gateway.
  2. Created an “extent” polygon shape file defining the region of interest around Fraser Preserve located in the western section of Great Falls, Virginia, near the Potomac River.
  3. Created a 3-meter topographic line data set for Fairfax County using the Contour tool from the 3D Analyst toolbox.
  4. Performed an Extract-By-Mask operation to create a 3-meter elevation data layer inside the extent polygon region at Camp Fraser Preserve.
  5. Selected only those water features in the extent using manual polygon deletion operations for the river, with reverse selection for streams and ponds. Removed topographic lines bisecting the ponds and rivers.
  6. Set the fill colors and point size of the above features (topographic lines, streams, ponds, and river) according to IOF cartographic standards.

As a result, the following base map was generated:


ArcGIS Desktop Map Feature Creation

The IOF cartography standard stresses land features in order to provide the user with as much information as possible to aid in navigation. In the following chart, one can see there are several categories of open land with type and variety of vegetation specified. Water and marshes also have many categories to help the user determine if any impassible obstacles are present:


Land cover, water features, trails, roads, buildings, and course control points are the main map components. I discovered that contained the trail used for the course, and I could accurately free-hand sketch the trail to generate a polygon, which was added to the project as a shape file.  I also created shape files for the roads, control points, and buildings with the same process:


The IOF also defines orienteering course control points as a purple colored circle containing a dot. The course start and end points use a triangular purple symbol. None of ESRI’s libraries contained these symbols, and as a result, I created it with the Desktop Symbol Property Editor:


Control point information and additional text was created with Microsoft Publisher (for maximum format control) resulting in a final two-page PDF document stapled front-to-back on a rigid piece of 8.5 x 11 inch cardboard:


The following sources were used to define map elements and content:

  • Steven Boga, Orienteering: The Sport of Navigating with Map & Compass, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, copyright 1997, Chapter 3 Map and Compass, pp 23-67.
  • Bjorn Hjellstrom, Be Expert with Map & Compass, The Complete Orienteering Handbook, 2nd Ed., Macmillan General Reference, New York, NY, copyright 1994, Part 1, Discovery Fun with Maps Alone, pp 9-61. Part 2, Exploration, Fun with Compass Alone, pp 63-104.
  • The Boy Scout Handbook, 11th Edition, copyright 1998, Chapter 5, First Class Scout, pp 111-125.
  • Camp Fraser Preserve at web site:, [24 October 2015].
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Geospatial Data Gateway:, [24 October 2015].
  • International Orienteering Federation map symbols:, [24 October 2015].
  • Orienteering USA:, [24 October 2015].