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GlobalWA Interactive Web Mapping with ArcGIS Online

By: Len Olyott, GISCorps Volunteer – Brisbane, Australia


Global Washington ( is a not for profit organisation based in Seattle, Washington USA. Their mission is to support the global development sector in the state of Washington. GlobalWA is comprised of non-profit organisations, foundations, businesses, government and academic institutions.

With a focus on convene, strengthen and advocate, GlobalWA aims to foster a community of sharing with its members who are all based in Washington so that global development issues can be addressed in a coordinated manner.

The focus of the GISCorps mission was to replace the existing webmaps on the GlobalWA website with updated and more focused maps that could be used to inform members and the public of where in the world, GlobalWA members were active and the kinds of programs implemented.

GlobalWA received an ArcGIS Online subscription account from Esri as part of the non-profit program and this presented the opportunity to use AGO to create webmaps and to also leverage the productivity benefits of Esri Maps for Office. The long term goal is that GlobalWA is able to become self-sustaining in terms of using GIS to enhance their productivity.


GlobalWA provided me with an Excel spreadsheet containing a long list of all their members along with country names and URL links to webpages within the GlobalWA website. My plan was to use Esri Maps for Office and the inbuilt geo-coding functionality to add their data to a map and symbolise the information in a way that made sense. The attributes from the spreadsheet would populate the popups and again these would be configured with easy to understand labels. I would then share the map as a hosted feature service in their AGO account and once published I would create a webmap or web application that could be embedded within the GlobalWA website.


One of the first challenges with the data was a range of different spellings for the same country. The Esri geocoder provides for a range of out of the box geocoding options ranging from coordinates, through street address, zip code and on to country level. Additionally, you can add your own custom regions against which to geocode.

Several iterations of data cleansing using both Excel and Access eventually provided a consistent country list. I also took the step of downloading an official ISO 3166 compliant list of current countries along with the correct spelling and ISO code. While ISO doesn’t offer a free downloadable list, there are a number of other sites that do and a Google search will reveal several options to get this information.

My recommendation to GlobalWA will be that they use the ISO compliant list to avoid problems in the future.

A second challenge with geocoding was that not all of the countries where GlobalWA are active are included in the provided geocoding options. This could be due to a variety of reasons including disputed boundaries and countries and changes to country boundaries. In the end, I created my own custom location type and hosted this in the GlobalWA AGO account. It comprised an existing shapefile of country boundaries which I uploaded to AGO and published as a feature service. I added countries that were not in the original file through an edit session in AGO and then saved my edits. Once I added my custom location to the list of geocoders in Esri Maps for Office, I was able to visualise the spreadsheet data on my map and publish a feature service in AGO.

Working with the Excel data, I created a pivot table with Countries and Count of Members as fields. These data were then geocoded against the custom country location that I created. This meant that each polygon representing a country could be shaded according to the number of active members and the actual number would appear in the popup. Around 238 different countries currently have at least one GlobalWA member active in that region. The resulting feature service was added to a webmap in ArcGIS Online and an appropriate initial scale, basemap (in this case, National Geographic) and symbology (blue shading) were selected.

Very small countries (which would not display at the initial scale) were added as blue points. Washington State was also added as its own polygon from a US State featureclass.

This map represented a good first start for GlobalWA and they were able to share the webmap by embedding the iframe code within their existing GlobalWA webpage.

The next step is to include point locations of each individual organisation on a map so that users can discover all of the programs an organisation is involved in.

Maps will also need to be created that are themed according to each of the program focus areas: Economic Development & Poverty Alleviation, Global Health, Education & Global Engagement and Climate, Environment & Agriculture.

There are also many other options available through their ArcGIS Online account which includes creating StoryMaps to share stories about their great work.

I would very much like to continue working with GlobalWA so that they can fully leverage GIS to support their activities. The twin tyrannies of distance and different time zones means that this is a challenging project to deliver on but provided GlobalWA have the patience, I would like to continue to be involved as long as they have need of me.

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