Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

ArcGIS Platforms

Popular ArcGIS platforms include ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, and ArcGIS StoryMaps. These software and online platforms are created by Esri and are used to perform GIS analyses. Currently registered students and staff at uOttawa have access to these platforms for free. Click on the platform of your choice for more details.

ArcGIS Desktop ArcGIS Pro ArcGIS Online ArcGIS StoryMaps

ArcGIS Desktop

Important update

ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) will no longer be provided by Esri to higher education institutions, including uOttawa, as of May 1, 2024. All ArcGIS Desktop users are therefore recommended to migrate to ArcGIS Pro and/or ArcGIS Online as soon as possible.

ArcGIS Desktop 

ArcMap or ArcGIS desktop is a GIS software for visualizing, managing, creating, and analyzing geographic data. Using ArcGIS, you can understand the geographic context of your data, allowing you to see relationships and identify patterns in new ways.

Download ArcGIS Desktop

ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro




ArcGIS Pro is Esri’s newest flagship software which combines the analytical potential of ArcMap with a newer, more intuitive interface similar to ArcGIS Online. This software is also much more compatible to work in parallel with ArcGIS Online (and ArcGIS StoryMaps). 


Installing ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro is only compatible with Windows OS (i.e., this software cannot be installed on a Mac OS). See Esri's recommendation specifications for installing Pro. To download ArcGIS Pro on one or more personal computer(s), please follow these steps:

For Students/Staff/Faculty:


Other ways to access ArcGIS Pro

If you cannot install Pro due to incompatibility with your computer or otherwise, you have a few other options to access the software:

  1. Using campus computers with ArcGIS Pro installed

    • The Morisset Library (MRT) has a computer lab on the third floor (MRT 308) with 21 Pro-equipped workstations. These can be used by any members of the uOttawa community. However, you cannot save your work locally as it will be deleted after you log out. You must therefore save your work in another way (e.g. on a USB stick, in the cloud [Google Drive, OneDrive], etc.).

    • Here's a list of all the software available on the computers in the MRT 308 lab.

    • The lab has the same opening hours as the Morisset Library. 

  2. You can also try using the uOLaboPlus remote lab 

    • Essentially, these are virtual computers equipped with various software packages, including ArcGIS Pro, to which you can connect remotely (from home) using a virtual machine. Follow these uOLaboPlus instructions to connect. 

    • Once again, you will need to save your work on a USB key or the cloud, and not directly on the virtual machine.

ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online Image result for arcgis online

ArcGIS Online is a Web GIS platform that allows you to use, create, and share maps, scenes, apps, layers, analytics, and data. Users can create a map that can be viewed in a browser, desktop or mobile device and leverages cloud computing. This platform has been growing throughout the years with added functionality and improvements to its interface and Esri now recommends it as the starting point for new GIS learners.

Accessing your ArcGIS Online account is easy and can be done in 2 minutes by following the steps outlined in this document: ArcGIS Online: Login Instructions (uOttawa).


Accessing ArcGIS Online

There are two main ways to access ArcGIS Online, (1) using a Named User account or (2) using an ArcGIS login (username/password). Here's a comparison between both types of accounts and which is recommended for you. 


Option 1: Named User account (RECOMMENDED for most users)

  • When trying to login to ArcGIS Online (and ArcGIS Pro), click on the "Your ArcGIS organization's URL" at the bottom to sign in.
  • You will then need to enter your university's URL: either gsguo or uottawa.
    • For those who had previously used ArcGIS Online (pre-fall 2023), you can continue to access your account with all of its content by putting in gsguo in the URL field.
    • However, we recommend that new ArcGIS Online users put in uottawa as their URL. 
    • Note that both URLs will continue to be accessible for the foreseeable future, but the uottawa URL will become the recommended default moving forward.
  • Click on Continue, then enter your institutional single-sign-on login (i.e., same as uOzone for students or Virtuo for staff). This will automatically authenticates you as a member of the uOttawa community and you will be able to access your ArcGIS Online account as long as your login info is still valid. The first time you use this login will generate your new ArcGIS Online account with default permissions (see list below).
  • Optionally, you can click on "Remember this URL" and save your login information to speed up the login process.
  • For those with an existing gsguo account who would like to transfer their ArcGIS Online content from this account to a new uottawa account, contact us at for further instructions.
  • For any questions on logging in to your ArcGIS Online account, contact


Option 2: ArcGIS login (NOT RECOMMENDED for most users)

  • The ArcGIS login method is only recommended for public accounts or administrators.
  • Public accounts
    • Anyone can create a free public account in ArcGIS Online. However, members of the University of Ottawa community have access a Named User account given that they are using it for educational purposes (i.e., relating to higher education and research). The latter comes with many more default permissions, including access to Esri's online training courses. See above for information on how to set up your Named User account and below for a full list of default permissions.  
    • For more information on the difference between an ArcGIS public account and an ArcGIS organizational account, please see A User's Guide to ArcGIS Accounts.
  • Account administrators
    • Account administrators manage licenses (for ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro), default permissions, groups, and access to certainly tools/extensions for users.
    • For security purposes, only a few selected professors and/or library/IT staff are account administrators.
    • If you think you should be an account administrator, contact


Account Defaults 

Once you have successfully logged in using your Named User account, your account will be automatically generated with the default permissions, including:

  • User type: GIS Professional Advanced

  • Role: Publisher 

  • Add-on licenses: ArcGIS Pro Extensions

  • Credits: 1,000

  • Esri access (online training courses): Enabled



  • 3D Analyst

  • Aviation Airports

  • Aviation Charting

  • Bathymetry

  • Data Interoperability

  • Data Reviewer

  • Defense Mapping

  • Geostatistical Analyst

  • Image Analyst

  • Locate XT

  • Location Referencing

  • Maritime

  • Network Analyst

  • Production Mapping

  • Publisher

  • Spatial Analyst

  • Workflow Manager



ArcGIS Online users a credit system to run many analyses. Users have a default of 1,000 credits when generating their accounts. Although this should be sufficient for most users, some might require additional credits (e.g., to run advanced analyses). If you might require additional credits, please contact us at with your request.


Account Expiration

Users only have access to their ArcGIS Online accounts while they are registered students or staff members at the University of Ottawa and may therefore lose access to their accounts, including their web maps, web apps, and content, after leaving the institution. Users who want to have access to their content after leaving uOttawa can create a public account (see the ArcGIS login section above) and transfer their content to this account using the free ArcGIS Online Assistant. However, this is a third-party tool and therefore should be used at your own risk. Any content remaining in inactive accounts (i.e., account inactivity for one year or more) may be subject to deletion as part of regular institutional account maintenance and cleanup.

ArcGIS StoryMaps

ArcGIS StoryMaps

ArcGIS StoryMaps are a specialized application offered through Esri that allows you to tell a story by using a combination of text, images, videos, and interactive maps.

Learn to make you own StoryMaps:

Nine steps to great storytelling:


StoryMaps resources


StoryMaps examples 

*University of Ottawa