Skip To Content

Managing scanned maps

A scanned map is a paper map that is scanned to a digital format. Examples include scanned historical maps, CADRG maps, topographic maps, engineering maps, and bathymetric maps, among others. Organizations may receive maps that have already been scanned, or scan their own paper map archives.

Archives of hardcopy maps are a rich source of geographic data. However, as geographic science migrates to digital formats, these maps often sit in drawers unused. By scanning these maps and managing them using mosaic datasets, they can be used, analyzed, and shared digitally.

Using a mosaic dataset configured to manage scanned maps makes it straightforward to visualize, query, and analyze large collections of scanned maps. You can render the data seamlessly and without collars (or reveal the collar for reference if needed), query the collection, view the maps as time-enabled (if available), and add additional feature data. Often the same area is covered by multiple maps with different dates or versions; using a mosaic dataset lets you define the order the imagery should be displayed. Mosaic datasets also make it simpler to share scanned map collections with end users and applications. Scanned maps managed with mosaic datasets can be shared two ways:

  1. They can be shared as a static three-band, 8-bit raster tile cache (like Esri basemaps). The cache can be created in ArcGIS Pro, then uploaded to ArcGIS Online for hosting and sharing.
  2. If end users or applications will need dynamic access to the imagery (to turn collars on and off, for example, or explore maps through time) scanned maps can be served as image services using ArcGIS Image Server.

Explore the following resources to learn more about managing scanned maps. (Not sure where to start? Look for the star by Esri's most helpful resources.)

To create and edit mosaic datasets or raster tile cache, you'll need ArcGIS Desktop (Standard or Advanced). To serve mosaic datasets as dynamic image services, you'll need ArcGIS Image Server. To host raster tile cache, you can use ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Server.

Imagery Workflows resources

Community-supported tools and best practices for working with imagery and automating workflows:

ArcGIS Help

Reference material for ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS Enterprise:

Esri Training

Authoritative learning resources focusing on key ArcGIS skills:

Developer resources

Resources and support for automating and customizing workflows:

  • Visit the MDCS GitHub repo to download a Python script to help automate the creation and configuration of mosaic datasets.
  • If you plan to manage your satellite imagery in the cloud, or want to optimize the data format for faster access, visit the OptimizeRasters GitHub repo for scripts and tools to optimize data transfer and management.

Esri Community

Online places for the Esri community to connect, collaborate, and share experiences:

* Esri's top picks

Related topics