Licensed GIS Software

All GIS software that is listed above is available to faculty, staff, and students currently affiliated with the University of Chicago.  Please refer to the ArcGIS service plan for more information.

If you are new to GIS, we recommend that you start with ArcGIS Online, a web-based service that has tools for mapping, spatial analysis, and data collection. If you work with large datasets, do a lot of editing, or need to create high-quality printed maps, you will want to use one of Esri’s desktop applications. Licensing fees are renewable every August. For purchase, installation, or more information, please contact gis-help[at]

ArcGIS Online -Esri ArcGIS Online is a web mapping platform that allows you to easily create, edit, analyze, share and publish geospatial data. To read about all that ArcGIS Online has to offer, check out the official website.

Instructions for signing on to ArcGIS Online

Learn how to use ArcGIS Online

Esri Story Maps - A web-based service that provides templates for telling a story with maps. You can easily create content including text, maps, and images, as well as links to websites and multimedia resources. Follow this link: to the login page for Esri Story Maps.

Learn how to use Story Maps

 Esri Business Analyst - Esri Business Analyst (BAO) is an online market analysis platform that uses a wide range of demographic, census, consumer spending, and business data. You can find details on BAO's functionality on the Esri website. There is no software to install and you will sign-in with your CNet ID. Follow this link: to the login page for Esri Business Analyst Online.

Esri CityEngine - Esri CityEngine is a 3D modelling and visualization tool. This has been used for applications such as urban planning, architecture, archeology, game development, and cinema (Disney animation studios).ArcGIS Urban – As a tool for Smart city planning, ArcGIS Urban is an immersive 3D experience designed to improve urban planning and decision-making. Quickly visualize projects in your local context and leverage location intelligence to drive better decisions.

ArcGIS Insights - ArcGIS Insights is an analysis software that fuses location analytics with open data science and business intelligence workflows.

Learn how to use ArcGIS Insights

ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) - The most widely used desktop GIS software at the University. If you are going to be working with colleagues already using ArcGIS Desktop, this is a good choice for you. Note that this software requires a Microsoft Windows computer (Mac users will need either Bootcamp or to create a virtual machine). Contact RCC-GIS helpdesk to get a student copy of ArcGIS Desktop

Student Copy Installation Instruction

ArcGIS Pro - This is the latest desktop GIS software. It uses a ribbon toolbar similar to that found in Microsoft Office products. Note that this software requires a Microsoft Windows computer. Other ESRI software products may or may not be available through the University of Chicago site license. Please contact gis-help[at] for more details.


Other Proprietary GIS Software and ApplicationsFME

The FME Desktop software offers a versatile tool that provides spatial ETL capability for both vector and raster data. FME Server automates the flow of data between applications. To know more about the FME software suite and to see what's new, please click here.


CARTO (formerly CartoDB) is an online platform that offers easy-yet-powerful entry into the world of location-based analytics, allowing users to create rich, interactive maps, perform advanced analysis, and develop location-based functions into their own web applications.

Agisoft PhotoScan

Agisoft PhotoScan (commonly known as PhotoScan) is a professional tool that performs photogrammetric processing of digital images and generates 3D spatial data to be used in GIS applications, cultural heritage documentation, and visual effects production as well as for indirect measurements of objects of various scales.

ERDAS Imagine

ERDAS® IMAGINE performs advanced remote sensing analysis and spatial modelling to create new information that lets you visualize your results in 2D, 3D, movies, and cartographic quality map compositions. 


ENVI products create the premier geospatial software foundation to process and analyze all types of imagery and data such as multispectral, hyperspectral, LiDAR, and SAR. They are designed to be used by everyone from GIS professionals to image analysts and image scientists, regardless of prior experience with imagery. 

AutoCAD MAP and Raster Design

AutoCAD Map 3D is built on AutoCAD and includes all AutoCAD functionality. Map files are saved in DWG format, just like regular AutoCAD drawings. The main advantage as compared to ArcGIS is in digitizing vector data.

Free/Open Source GIS Software and Applications

The GIS software packages listed below are NOT SUPPORTED on campus but are recommended as alternatives to licensed software.

Free Online Mapping Applications

Desktop GIS

Desktop GIS (free trial)

Spatial Database Management Systems

Web Map Servers

Image Analysis SoftwareImageJ Free public domain image processing software developed at the National Institutes of Health. Use ImageJ to display, annotate, edit, calibrate, measure, analyze, process, print, and save raster (row and column) image data.  ImageJ User Guide:™   MultiSpec™  Tutorials Purdue University Tutorials