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Top 10 objections to joining the Community Maps Program debunked

Think you have a good reason for not joining the Community Maps Program? Think again.

The Community Maps Program consolidates user contributed data to build a seamless, accurate topographic basemap of the world. Already in Canada, we have more than 180 active participants including provinces, municipalities, universities, colleges and airports. We’re always expanding and are always looking for more contributors.

In our discussions with potential contributors, we hear several reasons why an organization might hesitate to join the Program. Here are the top 10 objections and our responses to them:

  1. My data is incomplete. No problem! Because we do regular updates, you can supply us with whatever data you have available and we can update the map when you’ve updated your data.
  2. I don’t have all the data layers. No one does. We have access to data from a variety of sources and often supplement participants’ data with these sources.
  3. My data is a mess. Because we take the time to process the data for you, we can help you clean up your data and provide you with a copy of your own processed data for you to use.
  4. I don’t have time right now. Participating takes little time on your part. Aside from signing the agreement and providing us with a copy of your data, the only thing you need to do is review what we’ve produced to ensure that your data is properly represented. How much time you spend on your review is up to you.
  5. We already have our own Web map. That’s great! We’re not looking to replace the work you’ve already done. We only want to supplement it by providing you and your customers with more ways to access and view your data. With all the of the free APIs and Web application templates that we offer, getting your data into the Community Maps Program only broadens your audience and reach.
  6. Not everyone in my office is sold on the idea. That’s understandable. If you need help getting others to recognize the value of the Program, let us know and we can set up a time and place to discuss it.
  7. It’s not a priority for us right now. Participating in the program takes so little time and effort that it shouldn’t interfere with other important things that you are working on.
  8. I don’t want my data to be accessible to everyone. Your data stays with us in Canada. Only a cached, rasterized representation of your data appears on the Web – not the data itself.
  9. I don’t want someone else making money with my data. We’re not making money with your data. We only use data contributions to improve the topographic basemap that anyone can freely access. Our customers can access the cached map via ArcGIS for Desktop or ArcGIS Online but you don’t have to be a customer to access it.
  10. Wouldn’t it be easier for Esri Canada to produce a seamless basemap using a single data source instead of many different ones? Sure, it would be easier but we’re looking to make the best topographic basemap around and to do that we need you – the experts – because you have the best available data for your neighbourhood.

Don’t be shy! If you’re even somewhat interested but still not sure, contact us at We can provide you with more information and the support you need to communicate the value of contributing to the Community Maps Program.

About the Author

Paul Heersink is a cartographer and Production Manager of Esri Canada’s Community Maps Program: an initiative that is aiming to build a seamless topographic basemap using contributor data. He has over 15 years of cartographic experience, working in both the public and private sectors. Paul has always been interested in mapping and drew his own atlas at the age of 10. He took a detour in his career through the fields of psychology and social work before returning to cartography.

Profile Photo of Paul Heersink