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GIS (Geographic Information Systems)

Start here for general GIS questions.


The guide will direct you toward data (on the web and on our servers) as well as connect you with other relevant resources. As you conduct your research, please use these pages to keep up to date on GIS events on campus, new data acquisitions, and library resources for GIS

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are tools to explore spatial questions.

The acronym GIS most commonly refers to Geographic Information Systems, the interconnected hardware, software, users, data, and procedures that together form a system for geospatial analysis.  GIS can be used to study, analyze, and visualize any phenomenon that has a spatial component.  If location plays a role in your research, GIS offers a way to include these spatial features in your analysis.


Aaron Addison

Director, Collaborative Research & Data/GIS

Bill Winston

GIS Analyst 

Jennifer Moore

GIS & Data Projects Manager; Anthropology Librarian 

Mollie Webb

GIS Programmer 


ArcGIS Installation Guides

Current students may obtain a fully functional evaluation copy of the ArcGIS Desktop software as follows:

1) Obtain an installation code by sending the following information to Bill Winston (

  • Your Name

  • Email Address

  • Department

  • Student Status (Undergrad/Graduate Student/University College)

  • Phone Number

  • Operating System

2) After obtaining the installation code, visit the ArcGIS for Desktop Student Trial page at


3) If you do not already have an Esri account, sign up for free with the contact information of your choice.  If you already have an Esri account, sign in with your credentials.

4) After signing in, enter the installation code in the space provided and click "Activate ArcGIS"


5) On the "Select A Version" page, choose the version that is specified in the email with your installation code.


6) Follow the instructions on the next page.


7) Depending on your machine setup, you may be prompted to install additional components, such as Microsoft .NET Framework.  Follow the links provided on this page to install the additional components, if necessary.


8) Download the installation files from the Download Manager by clicking the "Click to Download Your File Now" button


9) Click through the prompts and the installation will begin.  The installation process will take several minutes.

10) After successful installation, you will be prompted to activate your software.  In the Authorization Options window, select the first option "I have installed my software and need to authorize it"


11) Follow the prompts and fill in your contact information and the installation code.

These steps will guide you through the process of installing ArcGIS software on a WU computer.  License authentication will depend upon whether you will be using the system while connected to the WU network.  Desktop systems and laptops that will not be used outside the WU network will access the WU License Server for authentication.  Laptops that will be 'offline', away from the WU network, will need to authenticate using a 'single-use' license.  Instructions in Step 8 guide you through the appropriate licensing process.


1) Create a connection to the GIS Server

While connected to the WUSTL network, map a network drive to the GIS Data Directory (gispublic):

  • Open Windows File Manager / Windows Explorer: Start > Computer (or My PC)
  • Right click on Computer (or My PC) > Map network drive

Map Network Drive

  • Select the desired drive letter using the "Drive" drop down menu
  • In the "Folder" text box, type    \\\gispublic
  • Check the "Reconnect at logon" box if you wish to create a persistent link
  • Click Finish

2) Browse to the mapped drive "gispublic" > Software > ArcGIS_Desktop

3) Locate the application (.exe) file with the name beginning with "ArcGIS_Desktop...".  The file name will often contain a version number and another code.  For example "ArcGIS_Desktop_1041_151727.exe."  Do not choose the file that contains the phrase "BackgroundGP."

4) Copy this file to your local machine.

5) Double click the .exe file to begin the installation. (you must have Admin privileges)

Note: Depending on your machine set up, you may receive a notification that a Microsoft .NET framework must be installed before proceeding.  This framework is available via the Microsoft Download Center at or by running Windows Update on your computer.

6) Follow the prompts once the installation begins.  In most cases, the default values can be accepted.  Installation may take up to 30-45 minutes.

7) If a previous version of ArcGIS was installed on the machine, the licensing should persist.  If this was a fresh installation, the ArcGIS Administrator will open upon completion of the installation.  ArcGIS Administrator may also be accessed on:

Windows 10 systems by typing "ArcGIS" in the Search field 
Windows 7 systems by going to Start > All Programs > ArcGIS > ArcGIS Administrator.

8) To enable licensing using ArcGIS Administrator:

  • Click "Desktop" in the folder tree on the left
  • If you are licensing for on campus use:
    • Select Product > Advanced (ArcInfo) Concurrent Use
    • Type into the License Manager field "" (without quotation marks)
    • Click the "Authorize Now" button
    • Skip down to "Both licensing models require..." section below
  • If you are licensing for off campus use (even only occasionally):
    • Send an authorization request to Bill Winston including the following:
      • Your name
      • Status (faculty/staff)
      • Department
      • Phone number
      • Windows operating system
    • You will receive a 'provisioning file' within 2 business days.  Use that file to complete this process.
    • Select Product > Advanced (ArcInfo) Single Use
    • Click the "Authorize Now" button











    • In the Software Authorization Wizard, choose "I have received an authorization file from Esri and am now ready to finish the authorization process."

    • Browse to the location of the received .prvc file
    • Click "Next"
  • Both licensing models will require the following:
  • Enter contact and industry information on the next screen:
    • Your Organization = Education-Faculty/Staff
    • Your Industry = Higher Education
    • Yourself = Take your pick
  • Click through the remaining screens keeping the default values.
  • Exit the installation wizard

9) To ensure a successful installation, open the ArcMap application by going to Start > All Programs > ArcGIS > ArcMap.

10) If you experience any problems, please contact a member of the GIS Team for assistance.

ArcGIS License Manager Error "Not_Set"

You've just downloaded and installed ArcGIS and now when you try to open the program you see this error...

ArcGIS License Manager Not Set

Could not connect to an ArcGIS license manager running on host "Not_Set"

This error will occur if ArcGIS Desktop is not able to connect to a valid authentication server.  If you are installing the ArcGIS Student Evaluation Edition, you may have selected the wrong product during setup.  Open the ArcGIS Administrator program (Start > ArcGIS > ArcGIS Administrator), the window below will appear...

ArcGIS Administrator

In the ArcGIS Administrator tool, follow these steps:

  • Click on "Desktop" in the left pane.
  • Click the Advanced (ArcInfo) Single Use radio button
  • Click "Authorize Now"
  • Fill in the required information
  • When prompted, enter the EVA code you received
  • Complete the process and do not specify any other products for evaluation, you will have access to the extensions.
  • Once this is complete, the software should function properly.

ArcGIS Extension Error "Tool Not Licensed" / Enabling ArcGIS Extensions

You are attempting to use a tool that requires an extension such as 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst or Network Analyst.  The window below appears:

Tool Not Licensed

Tool Not Licensed

If you have the ArcGIS Student Evaluation Edition, you have access to all of the extension, but they must be enabled.  To enable extensions in ArcMap, click the Customize > Extensions option in the main menu bar:

Check the checkbox next to the extension you wish to enable:

ArcGIS software is not released in a version compatible with the MacOS.  Many users however successfully run ArcGIS on their Macs using either BootCamp or a virtual machine environment such as Virtual Box, Parallels, or VMware. In all of these cases, the user will need to obtain a copy of Windows 7 (or higher) to install on their Mac.  These pages include more details on this issue:



Map a network drive (Windows) and create a folder connection in ArcMap

The WUSTL GIS Data Library is also known as "gispublic" and serves as the repository for all spatial data available to the WUSTL community.

To access data on "gispublic," your computer must be connected or "mapped" to the network drive containing the data AND a folder connection must be created in the ArcMap or ArcCatalog applications.

Map a network drive (Windows)

  • Connect to the WUSTL network

  • Open Windows File Manager / Windows Explorer: Start > Computer (or My PC)

  • Right click on Computer (or My PC) > Map network drive

Map network drive

  • Select the desired drive letter using the "Drive" drop down menu

  • In the "Folder" text box, type \\\gispublic

  • Check the "Reconnect at logon" box if you wish to create a persistent link

  • Click Finish


If you receive an error message that mentions security policies (below), you may still access the network share.

In the "Map Network Drive" window, click on "Connect using different credentials"

Enter the phrase "accounts\<your wustlkey>" (replace <your wustkey> with your own WUSTL Key) and your WUSTL password to log in.

Create a folder connection in ArcMap

1) Open the ArcMap application (Start > All Programs > ArcGIS > ArcMap)

2) Open the Catalog window (Icon located in the Standard toolbar)

3) In the Catalog window, right click on Folder Connections > Connect to Folder

4) In the Connect to Folder dialog, navigate to the mapped network drive "gispublic" and click OK.

5) The gispublic drive is now mapped in the Catalog window.  Expand the drive to view its contents.

Unknown Spatial Reference

You add a shapefile or feature class to ArcMap and the following message appears:

Unknown Spatial Reference

This message indicates that the file you are attempting to add does not have any associated spatial information and thus, ArcMap may not be able to place it in the correct place.  Spatial reference information can be applied to a shapefile or feature class using the Define Projection tool from the Data Management toolbox.

1) Activate the Search window from the Standard toolbar and type "Define Projection" in the search field.

2) Click Define Project to open the Define Projection tool.

3) Click the folder icon next to Input Dataset or Feature Class and navigate to your shapefile or feature class.

4) Click the pointer icon next to Coordinate System and navigate to the desired coordinate system.

Note: For more information on selecting an appropriate coordinate system, see the following links:

Choosing the Right Map Projection -


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