Accessing GIS Software at Stanford

ArcGIS Desktop & ArcGIS Pro Software

ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro are now available for download to any Stanford student, staff, faculty, or sponsored affiliate (with a valid SUnet ID), and we are simplifying the process of installing and authorizing the software. 

The Stanford Geospatial Center maintains a set of Installation Batch Files that can be used to automate the process of installing and authorizing ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro. You can download those installers by logging into using your Stanford credentials, and going to: 

64-bit Windows users should be able to:

  1. Download the zipped installation files for the desired software (ArcGIS Desktop and Pro are currently available).
  2. Unzip the installers to the machine you want to install to (Right-click>Extract…).
  3. Browse into the unzipped folder, right-click on the *.bat file and Run
  4. Installation typically takes several minutes, and should proceed, unattended. 

Students interested in using Esri software on a Mac should contact Student Tech Services at Lathrop (, for assistance obtaining and installing a Windows OS Virtual Machine on their device. Faculty and Staff will need to contact their respective technical support staff for assistance with Windows virtualization. Once you have a working Windows VM, the above installers and instructions should work.

If you require versions of Esri software, other than the most recent release, please feel free to contact with your request.

Note: for installation on Stanford affiliated computers only and only to users who possess a valid SUNet ID. Software and data provided under this agreement are to be used for instruction, research, and administrative purposes only. Use of the licensed programs for profit, private gain, or other commercial use is prohibited.

(The SGC suggests installing the Long-Term Release (LTR) version) 

A Free and Open Source Geographic Information System. Create, edit, visualize, analyze and publish geospatial information on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. QGIS has matured into a full-featured desktop GIS platform over the past few years and is a perfect alternative to ArcGIS for those not using Windows, or interested in using Free&Open Source software. 

Web Mapping Services

ArcGIS Online is Esri's Cloud-based Geographic Information System, providing web-based mapping and location-based application development services, tightly integrated with ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro. Use Enterprise Login at with your SUNetID for access.

Capabilities include:

  • Web Mapping and creation of WFS/WMS Web Mapping Services
  • Creation, implementation and management of spatial data-centric field data collection systems
  • Secure sharing of spatial data services and resources between collaborators
  • Publish public facing web map applications for stakeholders

SimplyAnalytics, is a powerful yet user-friendly analytics, data visualization, and mapping application with thousands of demographic, business, marketing & health data variables. With you can answer key research questions, make sound business decisions, and understand the socio-demographic and economic conditions of any geographic area in the United States. 

Capabilities include:

  • Creating custom views for a detailed demographic analysis
  • Tracking trends over time
  • Analyzing consumer spending or behavior across multiple areas
  • Incorporating a database of 23 million businesses and non-profit organizations

A web based GIS visualization and analysis platform. Not truly "open source" but does have a functional free account setting as well as special educational accounts for students and faculty. Use your email address to create an account (note: currently, only one account per email is possible).

The David Rumsey Map Collection focuses on rare 16th through 21st century maps of North and South America, as well as maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. The collection includes atlases, wall maps, globes, school geographies, pocket maps, books of exploration, maritime charts, and a variety of cartographic materials including pocket, wall, children's, and manuscript maps. Items range in date from about 1550 to the present.

Digitization of the collection began in 1996 and there are now over 86,000 items online, with new additions added regularly. The site is free and open to the public. Here viewers have access not only to high resolution images of maps that are extensively cataloged, but also to a variety of tools that allow to users to compare, analyze, and view items in new and experimental ways.

Mapbox is a location data platform for mobile and web applications. Specifically targeting developers, Mapbox provides a rich array of APIs, SDKs and Open Source software for working with spatial data on web, mobile and automobile based platforms. Mapbox provides building blocks to add location features like maps, search, and navigation to web, mobile and embedded applications. The most comprehensive and well organized overview of their services is (not suprisingly), the documentation at

Google Earth Engine combines a multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities and makes it available for scientists, researchers, and developers to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth's surface. Access is currently entirely open and free for research and teaching use. All you need is a Gmail account. Excellent "Getting Started" materials can be found, here: is a quick, simple tool for creating, viewing, and sharing maps. is named after GeoJSON, an open source data format, and it supports GeoJSON in all ways - but also accepts KML, GPX, CSV, GTFS, TopoJSON, and other formats. It's a great tool for quickly creating simple spatial data and integrates with GitHub, which will display GeoJSON in a Leaflet map.

Mapshaper is software for editing Shapefile, GeoJSON, TopoJSON, CSV and several other data formats, written in JavaScript. The mapshaper command line program supports essential map making tasks like simplifying shapes, editing attribute data, clipping, erasing, dissolving, filtering and more. The web UI supports interactive simplification, attribute data editing, and running cli commands in a built-in console.