Skip To Content

Custom Data Setup

The Custom Data Setup workflow in ArcGIS Community Analyst allows you to add your own custom data and use them along with Esri Demographics data. You can select a data source and setup the variables for use in Community Analyst. The data source is a file you import, or an existing layer. Custom data uses variables from the data source along with some metadata of how to statistically apportion or calculate numeric data. The metadata file is stored in your ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise organization as an item type called Statistical Data Collection.


This video was created using Business Analyst Web App, where the user experience and workflows are identical to Community Analyst.

To open the workflow, click Maps > Add Data > Custom Data Setup

Click Custom Data Setup to get started
The Custom Data Setup dialog opens on the left.
Workflow dialog

The introduction screen provides an overview of the three phases in the workflow. To not see this screen again, check the Skip this in the future check box. You can turn it on again under Preferences > Maps > Add Data > Custom Data.

Click Get Started. The first screen of the workflow opens.

My data

To setup new custom data, click Start Setup. The Select data source step opens.

Custom data that you setup previously is listed under the My data tab. Custom data that other users have shared with you are listed under the Data shared with me. To view options for custom data, click View options next to it in the list.

Select data source

Select data source
Select a data source using one of the following ways:

  1. Existing web layer

    Select an existing layer.

    Choose layer menu
    Expand the Choose Layer drop-down menu and select one of the following ways to add a layer:
    • Browse for a layer—Allows you to select from available layers in ArcGIS Online. The Select a Layer dialog box opens, and the available layers and feature services are organized under several tabs. You can browse, filter, and search the content and select a layer. This experience will be very similar to selecting a web map or layer in the Web Maps and Layers workflow.
      Source organization options
    • Layer on map—Allows you to select a layer that is currently on the map. If there is no selectable layer on the map, this option will not appear.
    • Layer from project—Will open the Select Layer dialog box, which allows you to select a layer from the current project. If the current project has no selectable layers, this option will not appear.
    • Enter URL—Allows you to add data by directly entering a URL in the field.
      Enter URL
      If the URL is valid, the Go button will be enabled. Click Go. The layer will be selected. You can also enter the URL for a feature service on ArcGIS Online that has data layers that can be added—in that case, the Select a Layer dialog box opens and the layers from the feature service are displayed. You can select any layer that has at least one numeric field.
      Select a layer

  2. Import File

    Import an Excel file or shapefile to bring in point data, polygonal boundaries, or geographic boundaries. Click Browse and select a file on your device. Click Import.

    When importing an Excel or CSV file, you will be prompted to select the type of data being imported: Point locations or Geographic boundaries. If your file has a standard geography attribute in the data table—for example, ZIP Codes or counties, you can select the Geographic Boundaries option. See the next paragraph for information on specifying geographic boundaries.

    Select Point locations

When importing:

  • an Excel/CSV file selecting the Geographic boundaries option,
  • a polygon shapefile
  • an existing polygon web layer
You will be prompted to select the type of layer being setup. You can select Polygon layer for any of the above. However, if the data represent administrative boundaries (also known as standard geographies)—for example, counties, then it is recommended to select Standard geography layer to ensure that the polygons are correctly associated with the standard geographic boundaries they represent. You will then also need to match the applicable geographic boundary type to the geographic ID field. In the following example, custom data with counties is being setup, so Counties is selected in the Geographic boundary level drop-down list. The attribute CNTY_FIPS in the layer's attribute table has the county IDs, so it is selected in the Geography ID field drop-down list.
Imported layer options

In the Imported layer field, you can click View options for these options:

  • Click View in ArcGIS to open the associated feature service URL for the layer in ArcGIS Online.
  • Click Open layer to open and view the layer on the map.
Click Next to configure the fields of the selected layer as variables.

Configure data

Setup the data by configuring the variables and adding them to one or more categories. For example, suppose that the data source selected in the preceding section has United States counties, age, and population, variables from a particular vintage or a proprietary source that you want to configure for use in the application.

With the Category view link chosen, the variables from the selected data layer are listed on the left, categories on the right. You can click on the data source name to view metadata for the layer in ArcGIS Online.

Category view
  • By default, there is only one category. Click Add category to add a category. In the example above, the category Age has been added.
  • To edit a category, move the pointer over it and click Edit. The Edit Custom Category dialog box opens. You can edit the Title and other fields. In the example above, the default category was renamed Population, an icon was selected for it and values entered for the other metadata fields.
    Edit Custom Category
  • Click Search for variables to search for variables.
  • Click Filter variables to open the Filter Variables dialog box. Use the drop-down menus and text field to specify a filter—for example, Display name Starts with AGE . Click Add filter to add a filter. In the Show variables matching drop-down menu, you can choose to filter the list of the variables by applying any of the specified filters or all of them.
    Filter Variables
    Click Apply.
  • Click on a variable on the left to select it. Use Ctrl + click to add a variable to the selection and Shift + click to select multiple variables. To add the selected variables to a category, drag and drop them on to the category. Alternatively, you can click View options and use Add to category.

  • To view the variables within a category, move the pointer over it and click Open. You can click Add subcategory to add a subcategory. You can also select one or more variables and click More options for more options such as Move to reorder the list, and Remove to remove the variable(s) from the category.
  • To configure the selected variables, click View options and Configure variables(s). To configure all variables, click View options at the top and Configure all.
    Counties variables
    This opens the Configure Variables dialog box.
    Configure Variables
    Here you can edit the variable properties. Click Apply when done.
    • Display Name—Set the variable name that is shown in the data browser. You can edit this only when configuring a single variable.
    • Vintage—Set the vintage year that is shown in the info button in the data browser.
    • Summary Type—Defines the way aggregated values are summarized.
      • Sum—Adds up aggregated values for the polygons that intersect the target area.
      • Average—Averages aggregated values for the polygons that intersect the target area.
    • Weight—An additional parameter for when Summary Type is Average that defines which field to use to get the weighted sum. When Average is not selected as the Summary Type, None will automatically be selected for Weight and vice versa.

      When you have a variable for a median or proportional value in your data, the weighted average is useful for determining the value of that variable across multiple areas. For example, data related to an awareness campaign by ZIP Code. The penetration rate is the proportion of population for an area that is informed about the target issue of the campaign. You will also need to have a variable for Population in your dataset. To determine the overall penetration rate across all the areas, a weighted average can be calculated, which uses the following formula:

      Weight formula

      AreaPenetration ratePopulationPenetration rate * Population




      (0.5 * 24,000) = 12,000




      (0.7 * 12,000) = 8,400




      (0.4 * 30,000) = 12,000




      (0.2 * 35,000) = 7,000




      (0 * 18,000) = 0

      Sum(Population) = 119,000

      Sum(Penetration rate * Population) = 39,400

      You can also switch to Table view at the top and configure variables in the table. To reduce the number of steps needed to configure, it can be useful to first edit the properties common to multiple variables, and then individually edit the Display Name for each variable in the table. You can click inside any cell in the table and edit the value or select a different value in the drop-down list.
      Table view
When done, click Save. The variables you configured will be saved—every category you created will be saved as custom data and will be listed under the My data tab. You can use the variables from custom data in a workflow that supports that data type (points or polygons). They will be available in the Data Browser.

Custom data options

Custom data that you setup will be available under the My data tab. Every category that you created from a data source is saved as custom data. From the example in the preceding section, the Population and Age categories created will be available as custom data under the My data tab. Under Data shared with me, you can access the data others in your organization have shared with you. Click Search for layers to search for custom data on the selected tab. Click Refresh custom data list to refresh the custom data list.

My data options
Click View options next to a layer for the following options:
  • Edit—Open the custom data layer in the Setup Custom Data dialog box. To edit it, move the pointer over the thumbnail and click the edit button.
  • Change layer type—Change the layer type. For example, you may have setup a data source using the Polygon layer option, but now want to change it to a Standard geography layer by specifying the Geographic boundary level and Geography ID field.
  • Share—Use the Share Custom Data dialog box to select your Organization or Groups and share this custom data layer with them.

    1. If you use an imported file as the data source, you must also share your project.
    2. If you use an existing layer as the data source, you must also share the layer.
    If the additional sharing step is not completed, some users may experience an error when they use the shared custom data.

  • Disable—Disable the custom data layer, so it is no longer available in the Data Browser. The layer will still appear in this list and you can enable it again anytime.
  • Remove—Permanently remove the custom data layer. To use the custom data layer again, you will need to add it using the Custom Data Setup workflow.
  • View metadata—View the metadata for the layer. You can edit the metadata using the Edit option.

Editing the category variables or changing the layer type may cause issues for any items you created using the variables—for example, custom infographic templates, custom reports, etc.

Under Data shared with me, only the Disable and View metadata options are available for a layer.

Data shared with me options

Use custom data

You can use custom data in workflows that support the layer's data type (points or polygons), by selecting the variables in the Data Browser. The My data tab lists the custom data you added and setup previously. Custom data other users have shared with you are available under Data shared with me.

My data tab
For example, to create a color coded map of the Age under 5 population, using the variable from the Age custom data category, perform the following steps:

  1. Navigate to Create Maps from Data > Color Coded Maps > Browse all variables.

    The Data Browser opens.

  2. Click the My data tab (this tab is available only when you have added custom data).
  3. Click on the Age category.

    The variables in the Age custom data category will be available here.

    Age variables

  4. Click on the Age_Under5 variable to create a color coded map for that variable.