The amount of free geospatial data that can be found online via streaming sources is almost overwhelming.
A quick search of the web will reveal thousands of sources Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) compliant Web Mapping Services (WMS) which can integrate with geospatial software packages such as ArcGIS to create an interactive basemap for all your projects. My favorite collection of public OGC-compliant WMS feeds is maintained by Skylab Mobilesystems Ltd. and can be found here. This website contains links to nearly 1,000 WMS servers offering more than 339,000 layers!
Instead of spending the rest of this Free For All! listing my favorite WMS feeds, I thought it would be more valuable to walk you through adding a WMS feed to ArcMap 10. For this example, I utilize the World Mineral Deposits WMS feed:
- Go online and copy the address of the WMS feed you want to bring into ArcMap. I used this URL: http://184.108.40.206/cgi-bin/worldmin_en-ca_ows?request=GetCapabilities
- In ArcMap, use the top-of-the-screen menu options and click on, FILE → Add Data → Add Data
- From the Home Add Data screen, double-click on “GIS Servers”
- From the GIS Servers Add Data screen, double-click on “Add WMS Server”
- From the Add WMS Server screen, copy the address you found in step 1 into the URL: field
- If applicable, enter the Username and Password at the bottom of the Add WMS Server screen
- After a few seconds, the Add Data screen will appear again with the name of the WMS server added to the list
- Click on the new WMS server that has been added to the Add Data screen; it will take several double-clicks to do this
- You can add the entire stack of WMS layers with the Add button when it is highlighted; or you can use double-clicks to scroll into the WMS feed and Add only the layers you are interested in
As a quick FYI, OGC is consortium of public and private agencies that establish standards for geo-enabled web, wireless and other IT products/solutions.
Brock Adam McCarty