GIS & Mapping


Our primary mapping tool is the professional ArcGIS Pro software suite from ESRI.  This software has a fairly steep learning curve, but is quite powerful once learned.  Depending on your need, you might want to consider whether you need to install the desktop version or whether you can use the immensely powerful online version through Swarthmore's ArcGIS Online resource (

Getting licenses

Faculty, staff and students can get individual installations of the full ArcGIS Pro software package installed on their Windows computer, so long as they can log into Swarthmore's ArcGIS Online instance ( For details on how to log into Swarthmore's ArcGIS Online instance and download ArcGIS Pro for your desktop or laptop Windows computer, see the instructions detailed in this KB article:

Individual installations of ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap, ArcCatalog, etc.) are not available to students for individual installation. They can be installed and used by faculty or staff, but as ESRI has moved on to ArcGIS Pro, we encourage our community to do so too. Faculty or staff who do still need to install the ArcGIS Desktop software (ArcMap, ArcCatalog, etc.) on their laptop or personal machine should contact the Help Desk ( for a one-year stand-alone license. We have eliminated the license server that previously supported concurrent ArcGIS Desktop installations on campus.

Student access

ArcGIS Pro is also installed on certain public Windows machines to be available for student use. We recommend using the windows computer classroom (Singer 222), which is open for general use when there is not a class in session, or the Windows computers in the Beardsley Media Center, which have more RAM, and larger screens, ideal for GIS work.


Many online training courses from ESRI are available for free through our Tri-College ESRI site license. Access to these training resources is through our ArcGIS Online instance. Log into click the blue Swarthmore College button to sign-in with your campus network credentials, then select your username in the upper right corner of the screen, and select Training on the pull-down menu. Any course that is listed as "free" or "Requires Maintenance" should be available to you at no extra charge. Classes listed with a monetary amount do still cost the stated amount to take, and you would need to cover that cost.

ArcGIS Online

Swarthmore has a fully functional ArcGIS Online instance set up and ready for you to use! Log into, click the blue Swarthmore College button to sign-in with your campus network credentials, and you're ready to go! Many tasks formerly only done through the desktop versions of ArcGIS are now readily accomplished through a browser with ArcGIS Online. Plus this portal gives you access to many tools not available on the desktop versions, such as StoryMaps, Community Analyst, Living Atlas, Urban, Business Analyst and Dashboards, to name just a few. Dashboards are how many of the recent maps of COVID-19 spread have been published to the web from sites like the one at the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. After you log in to the Swarthmore ArcGIS Online site, click the 9-dot square to the left of your username in the upper right of the header to get a drop-down menu with links to these tools.

Swarthmore ArcGIS Enterprise Portal

Like an in-house version of ArcGIS Online, Swarthmore College now has an ArcGIS Enterprise Portal server array for project publication that need to be kept on-site and secure from the outside world. You can access this resource by connecting to and logging in with your campus credentials (click the blue Swarthmore College button). Contact to let us know what you need so we can equip your account for publishing data on this internal system.

Open Source Tools

  • QGIS ( is an open source GIS tool that has been installed on most public computers around campus and is available for both Mac, Windows, Linux and mobile platforms. It is generally compatible with the same files used by the ESRI ArcGIS products, but may not be quite as seamlessly integrated or smooth to use.

  • GRASS ( is another open source GIS tool that can be installed and used on Mac, Windows and Linux machines. Find out more from their web site.

  • Web Mapping with Google Maps is yet another way to create relatively simple and easy to use maps for your web site. More information can be found here:

Ways you can contact ITS or find information:

ITS Support Portal:
Phone: x4357 (HELP) or 610-328-8513
Check out our remote resources at
Check our homepage at