We can help UMN students, faculty, and staff from all campuses access and license several geospatial software packages. Not sure where to get started? Or don’t see software you need listed? Contact our Help Desk for assistance with finding the appropriate software for your work.
U-Spatial offers a variety of workshops in Duluth and Twin Cities on the software listed below, go to our Training page to learn more.
The University has a site license with Esri which provide all students, faculty, and staff with access to most Esri applications, services, and data resources at no cost. You may use Esri software and services for academic, research, and outreach projects. Esri resources obtained through the University may not be used for commercial purposes.
If you are new to GIS, we recommend that you start with ArcGIS Online, a web-based service that has tools for mapping, spatial analysis, and data collection. If you work with large datasets, do a lot of editing, or need to create high-quality printed maps, you will want to use ArcGIS Pro.
Esri ArcGIS Online is a web mapping platform that allows you to easily create, edit, analyze, share and publish geospatial data. To read about all that ArcGIS Online has to offer, check out the official website.
A web-based service that provides templates for telling a story with maps. You can easily create content including text, maps, and images, as well as link to websites and multimedia resources. ArcGIS StoryMaps are easy to access and use - there is no software to install and you will sign-in with your UMN Internet ID.
The most widely used desktop GIS software at the University. This software requires a Microsoft Windows computer (Mac users will need either Bootcamp or to create a virtual machine).
ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap)
ArcGIS Desktop is retiring at the University in 2024. New licenses will be unavailable beginning in early 2024, and all licenses will expire no later than July 31, 2024.
For comparable desktop software, we recommend Esri's ArcGIS Pro or QGIS. If web GIS is sufficient for your needs, you might consider ArcGIS Online.
Esri Business Analyst
Esri Business Analyst (BAO) is an online market analysis platform that uses a wide range of demographic, census, consumer spending, and business data. You can find details on BAO's functionality on the Esri website. There is no software to install and you will sign-in with your UMN Internet ID.
Instructions for signing on to Esri Business Analyst Online
To get Esri Business Analyst for a University owned computer, contact the U-Spatial Help Desk
ArcGIS Field Maps
ArcGIS Field Maps allows you to easily collect data using your smartphone or tablet. Field Maps can be used online as well as offline when you are out of cell service range; UMN researchers have used Field Maps around the world. It is available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices; find it wherever you get your apps.
Learn how to use Field Maps
An app for collecting data that includes complex form validation and branching. Best of all, you create your form in Excel and upload to create your app quickly. Survey123 runs in modern browsers on smartphones, tablets, and computers.
U-Spatial has an Esri ArcGIS Servers that students, faculty, and staff can use to host spatial data. Want to run your own server? Yep, you can do that too.
To get ArcGIS Enterprise for your personal or University owned computer, contact the U-Spatial Help Desk
Esri CityEngine is a 3D modeling and visualization tool. This has been used for applications such as urban planning, architecture, archeology, game development, and cinema (Disney animation studios).
QGIS - QGIS is a popular desktop GIS software with a full suite of tools for performing spatial analysis, editing data, and creating printed maps. It is open-source software and has versions for Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux. As open-source software, it is free to download and use, making it a good option after you leave the University.
Google Earth Engine is a cloud computing platform for processing satellite imagery and other remotely sensed data. It provides users with access to the imagery archives of various sensors (Landsat, Sentinel, MODIS, etc.) and computational resources that allow anyone with access to the internet to perform analysis on these datasets. Processing times are fairly fast because Google Earth Engine uses cloud computing on Google's own hardware. In order to use this resource, you will need to apply for access. It is currently used for non-commercial purposes and you need a .edu email account to sign up.
Trimble’s eCognition Suite is a powerful object-based geospatial analysis software that combines human cognitive understanding with powerful geospatial inputs; segmenting, classifying, and recognizing groups of pixels as objects. The Department of Forest Resources manages an eCognition site license, contact Dr. Joe Knight ([email protected]) if you have any interest in obtaining access to this software.
There are many other software options for geospatial analysis. Contact the U-Spatial Help Desk for consultation to identify the best software tools for your work.