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Manage 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 hard-copy 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 more feature data. Often the same area is covered by multiple maps with different dates or versions. Using a mosaic dataset allows you to define the order in which the imagery is displayed. Mosaic datasets can also be used to share scanned map collections with end users and applications. Scanned maps managed with mosaic datasets can be shared the following two ways:

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

Review the community-supported tools and best practices for working with and automating imagery and remote sensing workflows:

ArcGIS help

Review the following links on reference materials for ArcGIS products:

Training and tutorials

Review the following guided lessons and tutorials based on real-world problems and key ArcGIS skills:

Developer resources

Review the following resources and support for automating and customizing workflows:

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

Esri Community

Use the online imagery community to connect, collaborate, and share experiences:

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