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Cofrin Center for Biodiversity


GIS servers are set up by data owners to allow their data to be accessed directly. Desktop users connect to the data across the Internet. Once connected, they can add layers called "map services" to desktop sessions (more info). GIS servers and map services greatly reduce the need for distributing many copies of popular datasets. It is a very efficient approach to data distribution and appears to be where the world is headed. As the technology evolves, more and more data is distributed this way and traditional approaches to data distribution are starting to go away.

Connecting to a GIS Server
It should be noted that adding a map service to an ArcGIS desktop session is a little different from most "Add Data" operations. Before the individual service can be added, a connection to the server must be made in ArcCatalog. Connecting to a server is accomplished by typing or pasting a string of text into a text box. Information on the nuts and bolts of connecting to map services can be found at:
    •   Connecting to GIS servers (tutorial available at the ArcGIS Help Library hosted by Esri)
    •   How to Connect to an ArcIMS map service (tutorial from Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access)
    •   How to Connect (tutorial hosted by Otter Geospatial)

State-Level and Local-Level Data
Otter Geospatial maintains a listing of map services relevant to Wisconsin and the upper Midwest.

US Federal Level Data
National Map Viewer provides descriptions and connection information for a number of servers and services hosted by US Geological Survey.

Global-Scale Data
ArcGIS Resource Center directs users to maps and tasks hosted by Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (Esri) and their partners.