Create a map

To help the local search and rescue (SAR) team prepare for a missing person search operation in Yosemite National Park, you'll create a web map. This map will contain static reference layers and dynamic incident data that can be edited over the course of an incident to keep the map up to date.

This scenario is based on a fictional case study named Wilderness Search Strategy and Tactics by Phillips et al., published in 2014 in the journal of Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.

Navigate to the area of interest

A web map is an interactive display of geographic information that you can use to tell stories and answer questions. Maps contain a basemap, a set of data layers (many of which include interactive pop-up windows with information about the data), an area of interest (map extent), and navigation tools to pan and zoom.

You'll create a new map and navigate to Yosemite.

  1. Sign in to your ArcGIS organizational account or into ArcGIS Enterprise using a named user account.

    If you don't have an organizational account, you can sign up for an ArcGIS free trial.

  2. On the ribbon at the top of your organization home page, click Map.

    Map tab on ribbon

    A new map opens. The map extent for a new map is set to the default extent of your organization. The only layer on the map is the basemap, which provides geographic context such as water bodies and political boundaries. The default basemap is Topographic, but your map may have a different basemap depending on your organization's settings.

    Above the map is the ribbon. To the left of the map is the Details pane, which provides information about the map and its layers. Drag the map to pan it and scroll the mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

    In case your basemap isn't set to Topographic by default, you'll change the basemap now.


    The Topographic basemap is sometimes more current than other basemap options, such as USA Topo Maps. The available basemaps differ based on organizational settings. If your organization's available basemaps aren't sufficient, contact your organization administrator and ask them to configure the basemap gallery.

  3. If necessary, on the ribbon, click Basemap and choose Topographic.

    Topographic basemap option

  4. On the ribbon, in the search box, type Yosemite National Park. In the list of suggested locations, click Yosemite National Park, CA, USA.

    Search for Yosemite National Park


    Some ArcGIS organizations have custom address locators. You may encounter different search results than those in the example image.

    The map zooms to Yosemite National Park in California. The Search result pop-up confirms the location.

    Yosemite search result pop-up

  5. Close the Search result pop-up.

    You'll bookmark this location so you can quickly navigate back to it if needed.

  6. On the ribbon, click Bookmarks and click Add Bookmark.

    Add Bookmark option

  7. Type Yosemite National Park and press Enter. Close the Bookmarked places window.

    Any time you choose this bookmark, your map will automatically navigate back to the current map extent.

    Before you continue, you'll save the map.

  8. On the ribbon, click Save and choose Save As.

    Save As option

    The Save Map window appears.

  9. For Title, type Yosemite Search and Rescue. For Tags, type SAR, National Park Service, and California (press Enter after typing each tag). For Summary, type This map contains base and incident data to assist search and rescue teams in Yosemite National Park, California.
  10. Click Save Map.

Add reference layers

Next, you'll add data layers to your map to serve as the base data. Like the basemap, your base data will include static layers that provide geographic context. These layers will be more specific to SAR concerns in the Yosemite area, as opposed to the more general data of the basemap.

First, you'll add a layer of Public Safety Answer Point (PSAP) 911 Service Area Boundaries from the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD). A PSAP is a facility equipped and staffed to receive emergency calls (in the United States, these calls use the number 911). The PSAP service area is the geographic area within which a 911 call placed using a landline is answered at the associated PSAP.

When a person is reported missing, SAR teams often work with the local PSAP to gather information from the reporting party, or even directly from the missing person if they called 911. Knowing the service areas at a glance will provide useful reference information for a search.

  1. On the ribbon, click the Add button and choose Search for Layers.

    Search for Layers option

    You can search from several locations online. The default search location is your content, but this layer is located elsewhere.

  2. Click My Content and choose ArcGIS Online.
  3. Click Search for layers, type PSAP 911 Service Area Boundaries owner: HIFLD_Admin_JS, and press Enter.

    The search returns a layer of the same name by HIFLD_Admin_JS.


    To learn more about a layer before you add it, click its name in the list of search results to open a pane with a description of the layer. For even more information, in the description pane, click the button next to the layer name to open its details page.

  4. For the PSAP 911 Service Area Boundaries layer, click the Add button.

    Add button

    The layer is added to the map. Most of the map extent is covered by a single service area. The service areas obscure the basemap. Later, you'll turn this layer off to better see the basemap. For now, you'll continue adding layers.

    The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Stations dataset contains locations where EMS personnel are stationed or where EMS equipment is stored. Knowing these locations will help SAR teams determine the closest ambulance to a victim once they have been found and transported to a road access point. (In some situations, helicopters are used to transport victims, so collecting helicopter landing zone data may also be useful.)

  5. Clear the existing search text, type Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Stations owner: HIFLD_Admin_JS, and press Enter.
  6. In the list of results, for the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Stations layer by HIFLD_Admin_JS, click the Add button.

    The layer is added to the map. There are only a few EMS stations near Yosemite. Most EMS stations are located near populated areas, so when people are injured in a national park, it can be difficult to get aid to them quickly.


    If you want, zoom out on the map once or twice to see the location of nearby EMS stations. You can always return to the default extent with the bookmark you created or the Default extent button.

    Next, you'll add a minimum essential dataset (MED). A MED contains base data that is essential to most of your SAR team's missions. It generally includes geographic data like trails and water bodies unique to your geographic area. For many areas, you would need to contact local land management agencies to request access to this data. For Yosemite National Park, you'll access a dataset compiled from the publicly accessible National Park Service Data Store.

    This MED includes the following layers:

    • Campgrounds
    • Place-names
    • Trailheads
    • High Sierra and Backcountry Huts
    • Trails
    • Rivers
    • Roads
    • Water bodies
    • Yosemite National Park boundary

    When compiling base data for local areas in the United States, consider searching the Local Data Resources web app.

  7. Clear the existing search text, type Yosemite MED owner:Learn_ArcGIS, and press Enter.

    Search ArcGIS Online for Yosemite MED

  8. In the list of results, for Base Data - Yosemite National Park MED, click the Add button.

    Nine new layers are added to your map.

    Yosemite MED layers

    Last, you'll add a layer of watershed boundaries. According to evaluations of lost person behavior, terrain impacts the distance a missing person may travel from the Initial Planning Point (IPP). The IPP is the location a missing person was last known to be, and usually where SAR teams begin their operations.

    A watershed is the land area or topographic region that drains into a water body. It provides a natural geographic area for SAR planning. In Yosemite National Park, 86 percent of missing persons were found within or adjacent to the watershed of the IPP (Doke 2012).

    You'll add this layer by searching for its item ID.

  9. Clear the existing search text, type (or copy and paste) 0f76175ca3a4424a9ce2328b1daf931a, and press Enter.
  10. For the Watershed Boundary Dataset: HUC 12s result, click the Add button to add the result to the map.

    The layer is added to the map.

  11. In the search pane, click the Back button.

    Back button

  12. In the Details pane, click the Show Contents of Map button.

    Show Contents of Map button

    The Contents pane appears. This pane lists all the layers on the map. You can turn layers off to hide them. For now, you'll turn off some of the layers to better see other layers.

  13. In the Contents pane, uncheck the Watershed Boundary Dataset: HUC 12s, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Stations, and PSAP 911 Service Area Boundaries layers.

    Next, you'll change some of the properties of the layers you added. You'll reorganize them in the list of layers so that certain layers appear above others on the map. You'll also rename them to convey only the most important information.

    First, you'll move the watershed boundaries under most of the other data. For map legibility purposes, it is generally recommended that polygon data (such as the boundaries of areas) appear under data conveyed only as lines and points.

  14. In the Contents pane, point to the Watershed Boundary Dataset: HUC 12s layer and drag the reorder button so that the layer is moved under the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Stations layer but above the PSAP 911 Service Area Boundaries layer.

    Reorder watershed boundaries layer

    Next, you'll rename the Base Data - Yosemite National Park MED layers. Each of these nine layers has repetitive information about the layer's source dataset in the layer name. You'll shorten the names to convey only the most relevant information.

  15. Point to the Base Data - Yosemite National Park MED - Campgrounds layer. Click the More Options button and choose Rename.

    Rename option

    The Rename window appears.

  16. Change the name to Campgrounds and click OK.
  17. Rename the eight remaining MED layers to remove Base Data - Yosemite National Park MED from the layer name.
  18. Save the map.

Create an incident data layer

Next, you'll add an editable, dynamic layer to track incident data. Because this layer will be unique to Yosemite's SAR operations, you can't add an existing layer. Instead, you'll create a new feature layer based on a template. This template contains symbols and attributes recommended by the NAPSG Foundation SAR Working Group. The template itself, known as MapSAROnline, has already been added as a feature service to ArcGIS Online.

When you create a layer based on this template, it will not have any features (such as points, lines, or polygons), but you'll be able to edit it to add them as needed.

  1. Next to the map name, click Home. Right-click Content and choose Open link in new tab (or your browser's equivalent option).

    Open link in new tab option

    Your Content page opens in a new tab. This page contains all the maps, layers, and other items saved in your account.

  2. In your Content page, click Create and choose Feature Layer.

    Feature Layer option in Create menu

    The Create a feature layer window appears. You'll create a feature layer using a URL to the service based on the MapSAROnline template.

  3. Click From URL and paste the following URL:

  4. Click Next.

    The window loads a list of layers that will be included in the new feature layer based on the template you provided. You'll keep all of these layers.

  5. Click Next.

    Next, you'll choose the map extent for the layer.

  6. Pan and zoom to Yosemite National Park (in California, east of San Francisco and south of Carson City).

    To make sure your extent is correct, check the coordinates under the map. Your coordinates should be similar to the following coordinates:

    • Left should be near -120.
    • Right should be near -118.
    • Top should be near 38.
    • Bottom should be near 37.

    Extent for feature layer

  7. Click Next.
  8. For Title, type Yosemite National Park SAR Incident Data Layer and add your name or initials to the end. For Tags, type Search and Rescue and California.
  9. Click Done.

    After a few moments, the layer is created. The layer's details page opens with information about the layer. You're almost ready to add the layer to your map, but first you'll enable editing on the layer.

  10. On the ribbon, click Settings.

    Settings option

  11. Click Feature Layer (hosted). Confirm that Enable editing is checked.

    Enable editing option

  12. Close the browser tab of the details page and return to the browser tab of the map. On the ribbon, click the Add button and choose Search for layers.
  13. Click ArcGIS Online and choose My Content. Search for and add the Yosemite National Park SAR Incident Data layer.
  14. Click the Back button.

    The feature layer you created contains 13 incident data layers. As with the MED layers, you'll rename these layers to convey important information more quickly.

  15. Rename each of the new layers to remove the text Yosemite National Park SAR Incident Data Layer from the layer name. Confirm that the following layers were added:
    • Initial Planning Point (and subject information)
    • SAR Team
    • Reporting Party
    • Found or Suspension
    • Clue Points
    • Cellphone Pings
    • Assets
    • Tracks
    • Search Area Other
    • Search Area Statistical
    • Search Area Theoretical
    • Assignment Status
    • Search Planning Areas

    These layers represent different dynamic elements of a SAR operation. They will need to be tracked and edited as the operation develops.

  16. Save the map.

Automate area calculations

One of the incident data layers is named Assignment Status. The purpose of this layer is to create search assignment areas. When deciding which areas to search, SAR teams must consider how large the area is to determine whether it can be searched in a reasonable amount of time. Although terrain affects how quickly a location can be searched, a general guideline is that a search area should be around 0.25 square miles (or about 0.65 square kilometers).

You'll create a custom pop-up for this layer that uses an Arcade expression to automatically calculate the area of a feature.

  1. In the Contents pane, point to the Assignment Status layer, click More Options, and choose Configure Pop-up.

    Configure Pop-up option

    The Configure Pop-up pane appears.

  2. Under Attribute Expressions, click Add.

    An Arcade expression window appears. The default name of the expression is Custom.

  3. Next to Custom, click Edit. Change the name to Area (Sq. Km) and click Save.

    There are a wide variety of possible Arcade expressions. Your expression will be relatively simple. It'll use a function named AreaGeodetic that calculates area. You'll specify that the area will be calculated for the feature that is clicked and the measurement will be given in square kilometers.

  4. For Expression, type (or copy and paste) the following expression:

    AreaGeodetic($feature, 'square-kilometers')

    Expression to calculate feature area

  5. Click OK. In the Configure Pop-up pane, click OK.

    The layer has no features yet, so you can't test the pop-up right away. Another layer is the Tracks layer. This layer will contain line features that indicate important routes. Knowing the lengths of the routes is important, so you'll create another expression to automatically calculate length.

  6. In the Contents pane, point to the Tracks layer, click More Options, and choose Configure Pop-up.
  7. Under Attribute Expressions, click Add. Change the name of the new expression to Distance (Km).

    This expression will use a function named Length. This function operates similarly to the AreaGeodetic function but calculates length instead of area.

  8. For Expression, type (or copy and paste) the following expression:

    Length($feature, 'kilometers')

    Expression to calculate feature length

  9. Click OK. In the Configure Pop-up pane, click OK.
  10. Save the map.

    Last, you'll share the map. You can choose to keep a map private, share it with your organization, or share it with everyone. You'll want members of the SAR team to be able to access the map, but some information in a missing person search may be sensitive. You'll share the map with your organization.

  11. On the ribbon, click Share.

    Share button

  12. In the Share window, check your organization name.

    The Update Sharing window appears. This window prompts you to share the map's layers with the same permissions the map has.

  13. Click Update Sharing.

    The watershed boundaries layer is subscriber content and may not be accessible to certain accounts in your web map.

  14. Click Done.

You've created and configured a new web map with reference data and dynamic incident layers. Your map is suitable for a SAR operation in Yosemite National Park.

Create an app

Previously, you created and configured a web map with base reference data and editable incident data. This map could be used for a SAR mission in Yosemite National Park. However, while the web map viewer is ideal for authoring maps, it lacks specific tools and functionality necessary for SAR teams during an incident. Additionally, the map will be used by people who aren't GIS professionals, which means it needs a user-friendly interface.

Next, you'll use your web map to create a web app. Web apps provide preconfigured and ready-to-use GIS tools that can be accessed by the click of a button. Your web app will be based on the Situational Awareness Viewer web app configuration.

Choose the theme

Although there are a variety of web app templates, the web app you'll create requires a large amount of customization to meet the specific needs of SAR personnel. You'll use ArcGIS Web AppBuilder, which allows you to add customizable tools (called widgets) to your exact specifications.

  1. If necessary, sign in and open your Yosemite Search and Rescue web map.
  2. On the ribbon, click Share. In the Share window, click Create a Web App.

    The Create a New Web App window appears. This window contains options for how the web app will be created.

  3. Click the Web AppBuilder tab.

    Web AppBuilder tab

  4. For Title, type MapSAR Situational Awareness Viewer. For Summary, type This web app contains layers and tools to assist a search and rescue operation in Yosemite National Park.
  5. Confirm that Share this app in the same way as the map is checked and click Get Started.

    Web AppBuilder opens, showing your default web app.

    Default web app

    Before you configure any widgets, you'll change the theme. A theme is a template framework that determines the look and organization of an app. You'll use the Foldable Theme, which works well on a variety of screen sizes, including tablets and mobile devices, and which will be useful for SAR personnel accessing the app from the field.

  6. In the configuration pane (the pane to the left of the map), confirm that the Theme tab is active. Click Foldable Theme.

    Foldable Theme

    You can also change the style, or color palette, of the app. The color doesn't change how the map functions, so you can change it to whatever color you like.

  7. Optionally, under Style, choose a color you like or enter a hexadecimal code. (The example images will use the default gray color.)
  8. At the bottom of the configuration pane, click Save.

    Save button

Configure default widgets

Next, you'll configure some of the widgets the SAR teams will use. Web AppBuilder contains many widgets with parameters for configuration and customization. In general, there are two types of widgets: off-panel and in-panel.

Off-panel widgets are those that are provided with the theme you selected. They automatically appear on your map and contain basic functionality that is usually also available on a web map. They can be configured or hidden, but not removed. You'll configure the default off-panel widgets to suit the needs of SAR personnel.

  1. In the configuration pane, click the Widget tab.

    Widget tab

    The Widget tab lists the available widgets, with options to add more. The first widget listed is the Attribute Table widget, which displays a table of layer attributes at the bottom of your web app. The table can be opened, resized, or closed. The widget also provides options to export or filter the table, which is useful for SAR teams who want to convert the data to different file types.

  2. Point to the Attribute Table widget and click Configure this widget.

    Configure this widget button

    The Configure Attribute Table window appears. First, you'll choose the layers for which the table will display data. SAR teams will often need attribute information about the editable incident layers. The base reference layers will not provide as much useful information, so they should be hidden in the table.

  3. For Show, check and uncheck layers so that only the following layers are checked:
    • Initial Planning Point (and subject information)
    • SAR Team
    • Reporting Party
    • Found or Suspension
    • Clue Points
    • Cellphone Pings
    • Assets
    • Tracks
    • Search Area Other
    • Search Area Statistical
    • Search Area Theoretical
    • Assignment Status
    • Search Planning Areas

    You'll also set the sort field for each of these layers. The sort field determines the attribute field by which each layer will be sorted by default. For most of these layers, the most relevant attribute field is type, status, or ID.

  4. For Sort field, choose the following sort fields:
    • For Initial Planning Point (and subject information), choose Initial Planning Point (IPP) Type.
    • For SAR Team, choose Team Status.
    • For Reporting Party, choose Name.
    • For Found or Suspension, choose Found/Suspension.
    • For Clue Points, choose Relevancy.
    • For Cellphone Pings, choose Ping Date, Time.
    • For Assets, choose Asset Type.
    • For Tracks, choose Route Status.
    • For Search Area Other, choose Incident ID.
    • For Search Area Statistical, choose Incident ID.
    • For Search Area Theoretical, choose Incident ID.
    • For Assignment Status, choose Assignment Status.
    • For Search Planning Areas, choose Search Status.
  5. Check Allow exporting to CSV.

    Allow exporting to CSV option

  6. Click OK.

    Next, you'll configure the Coordinate widget, which displays geographic coordinate values on the map. The only thing you'll change about this widget is the units the coordinates are shown in. You'll change the default coordinate notation to United States National Grid (USNG), the standard coordinate format for SAR in the United States.

  7. Point to the Coordinate widget and click Configure this widget.
  8. In the Configure Coordinate window, for Actions, point to the default coordinate system and click the Edit button.

    Edit button

    The Edit coordinate system window appears.

  9. For Display units, choose USNG.

    USNG display units

  10. Click OK. In the Configure Coordinate window, click OK.

    The next widget in the list, the Extent Navigate widget, is not currently enabled. This widget allows users to navigate the map to its previous extent, a useful tool for zooming and panning back and forth between areas. You'll enable this widget.

  11. Point to the Extent Navigate widget and click Show this widget.

    Show this widget button

    The other off-panel widgets that are not enabled are the Full Screen widget, which provides functionality for displaying the map in full screen, and the Splash widget, which adds a customizable splash screen to the app. Neither of these widgets is particularly useful for your app, so you will not enable them. Many of the other widgets are relatively simple and do not need to be configured.

    The last off-panel widget you'll configure is the Search widget. With this widget, users can find locations by address or coordinates. You'll enable the ability to search by place-names (contained in one of the layers on the map), which is useful in the wilderness where there may not be any addresses.

  12. Point to the Search widget and click Configure this widget.

    The Configure Search window appears. First, you'll limit the search to only locations in the United States.

  13. For Country or region code(s), type USA.

    Country or region code option

  14. Point to Add search source and choose Feature layer.

    Add search source

  15. In the Set layer source window, scroll through the list of layers and click Placenames. Click OK.

    You also need to configure which of the layer's attributes will be used in the search.

  16. Next to Search fields, click the edit button.

    Search fields

  17. In the Set search fields window, check Name and click OK.

    You'll also add the ability to search for camps and campgrounds.

  18. Point to Add search source and choose Feature layer. In the Set layer source window, scroll through the list of layers, click Campgrounds, and click OK.
  19. Next to Search fields, click the edit button. In the Set search fields window, check Name and click OK.
  20. Repeat the process to add a search source for Trailheads and High Sierra Camps. Set Name as the search field for each search source.

    List of search sources

  21. Click OK. Save the app.

Add the basemap gallery

In-panel widgets are widgets that appear in the controller, an element of the web app's layout. In the Foldable theme, the widgets in the controller appear in the upper right corner of the app. These widgets have a wider range of uses and functionality beyond navigating the map. By default, the Legend and Layer List widgets are already added.

First, you'll add the Basemap Gallery widget. With this widget, users can change the basemap. SAR personnel may want to change the basemap to Imagery to better see vegetation and land cover or to OpenStreetMap to see where volunteers have added details to maps.

  1. In the configuration pane, on the Widget tab, click Set the widgets in this controller.

    Set the widgets in this controller option

  2. Click the Click here to add widget button.

    Click here to add widget button

  3. In the Choose Widget window, click Basemap Gallery (the widgets are arranged alphabetically) and click OK.

    The Configure Basemap Gallery window appears. You can use the organization's default basemap gallery or configure a custom basemap. The default collection of basemaps is useful, but you'll add to it the USA Topo Maps basemap that is often used by SAR personnel.

  4. Click Configure custom basemaps and click Import.

    Import button

  5. In the Import basemaps window, confirm that Esri default is selected. Click each of the basemaps to select them and click OK.

    Your custom basemap gallery contains all the default Esri basemaps, including Imagery and OpenStreetMap. Next, you'll add a new basemap.

  6. In the Configure Basemap Gallery window, click Create new.
  7. In the Create new window, for Title, type USA Topo Maps.

    Next, you'll add a thumbnail.

  8. Save the USA Topo Maps thumbnail to a location on your computer.
  9. For Thumbnail, click the default thumbnail. Browse to and double-click the thumbnail you saved.

    The Crop Image window appears. This window crops the thumbnail to the correct dimensions.

  10. Click OK.
  11. For URL, copy and paste the following URL:

    Parameters to create new basemap

  12. Click OK.

    The new basemap is added to your custom basemap gallery.

  13. In the Configure Basemap Gallery window, click OK.

    The widget is added to the controller.

Add in-panel widgets

Next, you'll add several basic in-panel widgets that provide functionality available to most web maps. First, you'll add the Bookmark widget, so users can navigate to the web map's bookmarks.

  1. In the configuration pane, on the Widget tab, click the Click here to add widget button. In the Choose Widget window, click the Bookmark widget and click OK.

    Bookmark widget

    The Configure Bookmark window appears. The bookmarks are displayed by default as cards, but displaying them as a list is better for mobile devices.

  2. Under Display bookmarks as, check the box for List. Uncheck Cards.

    Display bookmarks as a list

  3. Uncheck Display custom bookmarks.

    Display custom bookmarks parameters

  4. Click OK.

    Next, you'll add the Share widget. This widget allows users to share the app via email or by embedding it in a website. It also allows users to share the app with a particular extent, which is useful for SAR teams when they need to communicate new information quickly.

  5. In the configuration pane, click the Click here to add widget button. In the Choose Widget window, click the Share widget and click OK.

    Share widget

    The Configure Share window appears. The widget also provides options for sharing the app on social media. For SAR teams, this functionality isn't useful, so you'll remove it.

  6. For Choose sharing options, uncheck Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

    Choose sharing options

  7. Click OK.

    Next, you'll add the Measurement widget. This widget allows users to measure distances and areas. The size of an area or the distance between two points is critical for estimating how far a missing person may have traveled in a given time. Although you previously configured some of your layers to measure feature area and length automatically, adding this widget will allow users to measure anything on the map.

  8. In the configuration pane, click the Click here to add widget button. In the Choose Widget window, click the Measurement widget and click OK.

    Measurement widget

  9. In the Configure Measurement window, change Default area unit to Sq kilometers. Change Default length unit to Kilometers.

    Measurement widget options

  10. Click OK.

    Next, you'll add the About widget. This widget provides a textual description of the app.

  11. In the configuration pane, click the Click here to add widget button. In the Choose Widget window, click the About widget and click OK.

    About widget

    The Configure About window appears. The only option for configuration is to type the text to display in the widget. For the purposes of this exercise, you'll be provided example text, but feel free to add to or adjust the text in any way you see fit.

  12. Erase the existing text and image. Copy and paste the following text:

    The objective of a MapSAR web mapping application is to provide technical mapping tools during the different phases of a Search and Rescue (SAR) incident.

    This application has been configured specifically for SAR incidents in Yosemite National Park.


    Ensure that you paste the text as plain text to avoid including any unwanted formatting.

  13. Highlight the first paragraph and click the Italic button. Highlight the second paragraph and click the Bold button.
  14. Click OK.

    You'll set the About widget to open automatically when the app starts. This way, users will know the app's purpose as soon as they begin using it.

  15. In the configuration pane, point to the About widget and click the Do not open this widget when the app starts button.

    Do not open this widget when the app starts button

    The button changes color, indicating that the widget will be opened when the app starts.

    Next, you'll add the Add Data widget. This widget will enable users to add data to the map by searching for layers, uploading local files, or entering the URLs of feature services. Your app has a large number of layers, but at times SAR teams may need to add new layers to reflect information relevant to a specific SAR incident. Without this widget, SAR teams would need to add data to the original web map to add it to the app.

  16. Click the Click here to add widget button. In the Choose Widget window, click the Add Data widget and click OK.

    Add Data widget

    The Configure Add Data window appears. By default, users can add data from their content, their organization, ArcGIS Online in general, or curated content. When users search for curated content, they only receive results from a specific group of your choosing.

    You'll create a curated filter for the Resource: All-Hazards Core Information Needs Group. This group is hosted by the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) organization and includes layers relevant to hazards in the United States. The group contains many countrywide layers that may be relevant to SAR operations.

    To add a group, you only need the group ID, which is included in the group's URL.

  17. Next to Allow Curated, for Optional label, type All-Hazards Core Info. For Curated filter, type group:1be96fe19d9d48ed91a2f26126002bbe.

    You'll make this group the default filter when searching for data.

  18. Point to Allow Curated and click Make default.

    Make default for curated group

  19. Click OK. Save the app.

Add off-panel widgets

Previously, you configured some of the default off-panel widgets. Next, you'll add and configure new off-panel widgets that will appear under the search box on the app.

First, you'll add the Grid Overlay widget. This widget renders a United States Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) on the map. MGRS is a standard coordinate system often used by SAR teams. It is also interchangeable with the United States National Grid (USNG) system used by SAR teams.

  1. In the configuration pane, click the Widgets button.

    Widgets button

    The pane returns to the list of off-panel widgets. At the end of the list are five spaces for new widgets to be added. These spaces correspond to the spaces under the search box on the map.

  2. Click the first empty widget.

    First empty widget

    The Choose Widget window appears. You can choose from the same gallery of widgets as when you added in-panel widgets.

  3. Click the Grid Overlay widget and click OK.

    Grid Overlay widget

    The Configure Grid Overlay window appears. You can change the size, color, and opacity of gridlines, but the default configuration is fine.

  4. Click OK.

    Next, you'll add the Coordinate Conversion widget. While SAR teams on the ground use the USNG coordinate system, aerial operations often use degree decimal minutes and older maps tend to use universal transverse Mercator (UTM). This widget will convert coordinate systems between these formats to help teams work together.

  5. In the configuration pane, click the next empty widget (labeled with the number 1). In the Choose Widget window, click the Coordinate Conversion widget and click OK.

    Coordinate Conversion widget

    The Configure Coordinate Conversion window appears. You can change the zoom scale and the coordinate systems available for conversion. The zoom scale refers to the scale used by the widget's zoom button when zooming to a set of coordinates. You'll make the scale larger so that users can see the point of interest with more detail and remove coordinate systems that aren't used by SAR teams.

  6. Change Zoom Scale to 1 : 24000.
  7. In the list of coordinate systems, uncheck GARS, GEOREF, and UTM_H.

    Coordinate Conversion widget parameters

  8. Click OK.

    Next, you'll add the Print widget. This widget gives users the ability to print the map. While your web app can be used with many mobile devices, SAR teams still frequently use printed maps.

  9. In the configuration pane, click the next empty widget (labeled with the number 1). In the Choose Widget window, click the Print widget and click OK.

    Print widget

    The Configure Print window appears. When printing a map, users have the option to add a title and author. You'll add a default title and author that explain to users what information they should provide for these parameters.

  10. For Default title, delete the text and type Enter Incident ID here. For Default author, delete the text and type Enter Team Name here.

    Because these maps are intended only for private use, you'll remove the ability to edit copyright information. You'll also change the default layout to a landscape format.

  11. Uncheck Editable. For Default layout, choose A4 Landscape.

    Parameters for the Print widget

  12. Click OK. Save the app.

Add the Situation Awareness widget

The last two widgets you'll add have more advanced configuration options and are more directly applicable to SAR teams. The Situation Awareness widget analyzes information from multiple feature layers within a specified distance of an incident. SAR teams can use this widget to plot the Initial Planning Point (IPP) and create buffers to represent statistical search areas.

A statistical search area consists of a series of concentric rings originating from the IPP. The sizes of these rings are based on the typical behavior of missing persons. The International Search and Rescue Incident Database (ISRID) compiles statistics based on the outcomes and behavioral profiles of more than 50,000 missing persons cases. Based on these statistics, ISRID then creates tables showing the likelihood of a missing person moving a certain distance from the IPP. For instance, 25 percent of cases move less than 1.4 kilometers from the IPP, while 95 percent of cases move less than 5.8 kilometers. Statistical search areas are based on these distances and inform SAR personnel of the likelihood of finding a missing person in a certain area.

SAR teams often plot these areas by hand, but the Situation Awareness widget will generate them automatically.

  1. In the configuration pane, click the next empty widget (labeled with the number 1). In the Choose Widget window, click the Situation Awareness widget and click OK.

    Situation Awareness widget

    The Configure Situation Awareness window appears. First, you'll add tabs to display summarized information about features in certain layers close to the chosen IPP.

  2. Click Add tab. For Layer, choose Trailheads, and for Analysis Type, choose Summary.

    When you set Analysis Type, you may receive an error message stating that there are no valid fields in the pop-up. You can ignore this message, as you'll edit the pop-up settings in a later step.

    Tab for Trailheads layer with summary analysis type

    For trailheads, you only want to summarize the number of trailheads that are near the IPP. You'll remove any other attribute fields that might be summarized.

  3. Point to the empty space under Actions and click the Edit button.

    Edit button for new tab

    The Select Fields: Trailheads window appears. By default, two fields are selected to be summarized: Id and Quota.


    If you received an error message for Analysis Type, there may be no fields selected to be summarized. This means you can skip the following step, which removes any selected fields.

  4. If necessary, for each field, point to the empty space under Actions and click the Delete button. (If you do not see any listed fields, you can ignore this step.)

    Delete button

  5. Check Display feature count.

    Display feature count option

    Now, the number of trailheads near the IPP will be displayed when users access the Trailheads tab.

  6. Click OK.
  7. Repeat the process to add tabs for the following layers (making sure that Analysis Type is Summary, all fields are removed, and Display feature count is checked):
    • Campgrounds
    • High Sierra Camps
    • Reporting Party
    • Cellphone Pings
    • Assets
    • Tracks
    • Assignment Status

    For some layers, you may receive an error symbol around the analysis type. This error indicates that there are no attribute fields that can be summarized using that analysis type. The error should go away after you remove all attribute fields for the tab and check Display feature count.

    For some layers, it will be useful to group features by a certain attribute. You'll add a tab for the Watershed Boundary Dataset layer and group features by name so that boundaries belonging to the same watershed are summarized together.

  8. Add a tab for the Watershed Boundary Dataset: HUC 12s layer. For Analysis type, choose Grouped Counts, and for Label, type Watershed Boundaries.
  9. For the Watershed Boundaries tab, point to the empty area under Actions and click Edit.
  10. In the Select Fields window, for Group by Field, choose Name. Check Display feature count.

    Group by Field option

  11. Click OK.
  12. Add tabs with an Analysis Type of Grouped Counts for the following layers (remember to check Display feature count for each):
    • For PSAP 911 Service Area Boundaries, group by Name.
    • For SAR Team, group by Team Status.
    • For Clue Points, group by Relevancy.

    You have configured 12 tabs.

    Final list of tabs

    You can also configure several general settings related to the buffers users can create around the IPP. You'll change the units to kilometers to match other widgets in your app and make sure the buffers are geodesic.

  13. Under General Settings, for Distance units, choose Kilometers. Check Draw geodesic shapes.

    Distance units and geodesic shapes settings

    Next, you'll configure some additional capabilities so users can save and export the data they create using the widget.

  14. Scroll to the top of the list of tabs. Above the list, click the Output tab.
  15. Check Enable Save. Check Save points, Save lines, and Save polygons.

    You can choose the layers to which points, lines, and polygons will be saved. For instance, when users create a point using the widget, you can set it so that they can save that point to the Initial Planning Point layer.

  16. For Save points, choose Initial Planning Point. For Save lines, choose Routes. For Save polygons, choose Search Area Statistical.

    Enable save option

    You'll also enable the option for users to create a snapshot of the widget at a specific moment.


    To create a snapshot, a user's account must have permission to create, update, and delete. The user must also have permission to publish hosted feature layers.

  17. Check Enable snapshot.

    The option Export all fields is checked by default. This option enables users to export spreadsheets for selected features. You'll also enable users to create a report based on summarized information from the tabs you configured.

  18. Under Report Settings, check Enable report.
  19. Click OK. In the configuration pane, point to the Situation Awareness widget and click Do not open this widget when the app starts.
  20. Save the app.

Add the Smart Editor widget

The incident data layers you added to your web map are editable. To enable SAR teams to plot incident assets or other developing information using the web app, you'll add the Smart Editor widget. This widget provides feature editing options for editable layers.

  1. In the configuration pane, click the final empty widget (labeled with the number 1). In the Choose Widget window, click the Smart Editor widget and click OK.

    Smart Editor widget

    The Configure Smart Editor window appears. First, you'll configure a display field for the High Sierra Camps layer. This layer is missing a display field and you won't be able to configure the widget until you set one.

  2. On the Layer Settings tab, scroll through the list of layers, point to High Sierra Camps, and click the edit button in the Actions column.
  3. In the Configure fields for High Sierra Camps window, for the Name field, check the box in the Display column.
  4. Click OK.

    Next, you'll enable the option to delete features in all layers.

  5. On the Layer Settings tab, check Allow Delete to enable deletion for all layers.

    Allow Delete option for all layers

    Next, you'll adjust some general settings. First, you'll make sure feature editing uses a template filter.

  6. Click the General Settings tab. Under Feature Template and Filter value Settings, check Use feature template filter.

    Use feature template filter option

    Next, you'll change settings for saving. Some of these changes will only adjust the user interface, while others will ensure users save their edits and don't accidentally delete important features.

  7. Under Save Settings, for Position of Save, Delete, Back and Clear Selection buttons, click Above Edit Form.
  8. Check Prompt to save unsaved edits when form is closed or switched to the next record, Require confirmation when deleting a record, and Remove feature from selection on save.

    Save Settings configured

    You'll also change settings for editing geometry.

  9. Under Geometry Settings, check Enable geometry edit by default and Enable moving of selected point feature to XY location.

    Geometry Settings configured

    Next, you'll add some text to be displayed on the editing panel. You'll include some basic instructions to help users.

  10. For Provide display text for the edit panel, replace the existing text with the following text:

    1. Select or search for a template to create a new point, line, or area.

    2. Click the map to begin drawing.

    3. Enter related information in the provided pop-up window.

    4. When finished, click Save.

  11. Click OK.

    The Smart Editor widget is configured.

  12. Save the app.

Provide attribute information

You've finished configuring widgets. Next, you'll configure some basic attribute information for your app.

  1. In the configuration pane, click the Attribute tab.

    Attribute tab

    You can change the map's title, subtitle, and logo. You can also add a link to a website. Some SAR teams may want to use an organizational logo, but for your purposes, the logo isn't necessary.

  2. Point to the default logo and click the Remove button.

    Remove button

  3. Change the subtitle to Yosemite National Park.

    Title and subtitle

  4. Save the app.

    Your app is finished. Next, you'll open it.

  5. At the bottom of the configuration pane, click Launch.

    Launch button

    The app opens in a new browser tab.

    Final app

You've created and configured an app to help SAR teams in Yosemite National Park. Your app includes many widgets to edit and analyze features on the map. SAR teams can use it to search for locations, add an IPP, create a statistical search area, generate search assignments, convert coordinates, and print maps.

Map a search operation

Previously, you created a web app to help SAR operations in Yosemite National Park. Next, you'll take on the role of a SAR team member during a missing person search operation. You'll use the configured web app to create a live, dynamic map that provides situational awareness to the rest of the team.

You'll use the app to plot the Initial Planning Point (IPP), determine the search area, create assignment maps, track statuses, and map incident data.


This missing person case is entirely fictional. Names, dates, addresses, and other details have been created to demonstrate search management practices. To learn more about common SAR practices, read the article Wilderness Search Strategy and Tactics.

Open the app

The MapSAR Situational Awareness Viewer app you created in the previous lesson is shared with members of your organization. It's been configured for the following functionality:

  • Plotting IPPs and assets
  • Creating statistical search areas
  • Editing incident data (assignments, assets, team status, and so on)
  • Adding GPS data
  • Printing a basic map

You'll make use of these features and more over the course of a fictional missing person case. First, you'll open the app.

  1. If necessary, sign in to your ArcGIS organization account or your ArcGIS Enterprise using a named user account.

    If you were the one who created the app in the previous lessons, the app will be located in your Content page. In this lesson, however, you're taking on the role of a SAR team member, not the GIS specialist who would have configured the app, so you'll search your organization to find it.

  2. On the ribbon, click the search button.

    Search button

  3. In the search box, type MapSAR Situational Awareness Viewer and press Enter.

    By default, your search is filtered to results in your organization.

  4. Point to the thumbnail of the MapSAR Situational Awareness Viewer app you created and click View Application.

    If your search returns multiple results, make sure you open the app that you created. Each search result lists the item's owner.

    View Application button

    The app opens in a new browser tab.

    Default MapSAR Situational Awareness Viewer app

    Before you use the app, you'll become familiar with the basics of navigating a web app. SAR team members may not be GIS experts, so it's important to go over the basics, as well as some navigational shortcuts.

  5. Click the Zoom in or Zoom out buttons.

    Zoom in and Zoom out buttons

    Depending on which button you click, the map zooms in or out a fixed distance. You can also zoom in and out with the mouse scroll wheel.

  6. Press Shift while drawing a box on the map.

    Shift key shortcut for navigation

    When you release the mouse button, the map zooms to the extent of the box you drew.

  7. Drag the map to pan it.
  8. When finished, click the Default extent button.

    Default extent button

    The map returns to its original extent.


    The app also contains a bookmark that immediately navigates to the extent of Yosemite National Park when clicked. To access the bookmark, click the Bookmark button on the ribbon.

    Bookmark button

    You'll also become familiar with the Layer List pane, which shows all the layers in the app. This pane also contains options for turning layers on and off.

  9. On the ribbon, click the Layer List button.

    Layer List button

    The Layer List pane appears.

    Layer List pane

    The check box next to each layer indicates whether the layer is visible on the map. Most of the layers are turned off. Many of these layers currently have no data, but they can be edited to include some.

  10. Check the boxes for SAR Team, Trailheads, and High Sierra Camps. Uncheck Search Planning Areas and Roads.

    The Trailheads and Roads layers currently have data, while the SAR Team and Search Planning Areas layers do not.

  11. Turn the Roads layer back on.

    Each layer also has an options button with layer-specific options.

  12. For the SAR Team layer, click the options button.

    Options button for SAR Team layer

    The options menu contains the following options:

    • Zoom to—Navigates the map to the extent of the layer.
    • Transparency—Makes layers transparent. This option is useful for when features overlap or obscure parts of the map.
    • Set visibility range—Determines the zoom extent at which layers are visible. By default, most layers are visible at all zoom extents.
    • Disable pop-up—Turns off the layer's pop-up. A pop-up appears when you click a map feature. It displays additional information about the feature based on the feature's attribute information. If a layer's pop-up is disabled, this option becomes Enable pop-up.
    • Move up and Move down—Moves the layer up or down in the layer list. Changing the order of layers in the layer list also changes the order in which they appear on the map. Generally, it's a good idea to display points and lines above polygons so that the polygons don't cover the other layers.
    • View in attribute table—Opens the layer's attribute table. The attribute table shows all of the information associated with the layer. This information differs from layer to layer, but it usually includes data about the names or identifiers of each feature.
    • Show item details—Opens the item details for the layer if available. This option is useful if you want more information about a layer's source.
  13. Click the name of the SAR Team layer.

    SAR Team symbol

    The layer's map symbol appears. Some layers have multiple symbols. When they're expanded in the layer list, all symbol types are shown.

    You can also search for layers and control the behavior of all layers in the list. These options are located at the top of the layer list.

  14. Click the layer list options button and choose Collapse all layers.

    Collapse all layers option

    The SAR Team layer is collapsed. This menu also contains options to turn all layers on or off.

Plot the Initial Planning Point

Now that you're familiar with the app's basic functionality, you'll start working on the missing person search operation. This scenario is completely fictional and based on Wilderness Search Strategy and Tactics (2014) by Phillips et al.

In early October, accomplished runner Ryan Powell failed to call home after a daylong trail run in Yosemite National Park. When it became night and a storm started to develop over the Sierra Nevada mountains, his wife, Linda, contacted the National Park Service. Yosemite Search and Rescue immediately initiated an organized search effort.

Yosemite Ranger Dave Hope, the initial incident commander (IC) for the search, interviewed the reporting party, Linda Powell, by phone. The IC obtained detailed information about the missing subject, who had planned to run the Lyell Canyon-Vogelsang-Rafferty Creek Loop. This trail is a 20-mile (32 km) loop encompassing the Tuolumne Pass area at an elevation of 10,000 feet (3,048 m) in the eastern portion of the park. The IC learned that the subject had never previously run this route and developed his trip plan based on information from a trail running blog. The IC also learned that the subject intended to leave his cell phone in his vehicle parked at the trailhead. Initial investigation efforts located the subject's vehicle at the trailhead parking lot, indicating that the subject is most likely still in the area.

Search operations begin from the Initial Planning Point (IPP). This point is usually the place where the subject was last seen or last known to be. Search planning is based on the IPP and searches tend to occur in nearby areas. The IPP for this scenario is the Lyell Canyon-Vogelsang-Rafferty Creek Loop trailhead near Tuolumne High Sierra Camp, the subject's last known location.

To plot the IPP, you'll use the Smart Editor widget, a tool for editing features in the map layers. You can use it to add new points, lines, or areas to the map. You can only edit features that are turned on in the layer list.

  1. In the layer list, confirm that the Initial Planning Point (and subject information) layer is turned on.

    Next, you'll navigate to Tuolumne High Sierra Camp.

  2. On the map, click Find address or place and type Tuolumne (don't press Enter).

    Search results for Tuolumne

    When the app was created, the search was configured to include results from certain map layers, including the High Sierra Camps layer. The search results include Tuolumne High Sierra Camp.

  3. Under High Sierra Camps, choose the Tuolumne search result (or press Enter to automatically choose the first result).

    The map navigates to Tuolumne High Sierra Camp. A search result pop-up provides the camp's name.

    Tuolumne High Sierra Camp

    The camp is close to the Rafferty Creek or Lyell Canyon trailhead (the trail itself is the dotted line on the map). Based on the initial investigation, this is where the subject's vehicle was found. You'll plot the IPP here.

  4. Close the search result pop-up. In the search box, click Clear search.
  5. Under the search box, click the Smart Editor widget.

    Smart Editor widget

    The Smart Editor pane appears.


    Drag the top of the Smart Editor pane to position it anywhere in the app.

    First, you'll choose a template for editing. The available templates are based on the layers that are turned on in the app.

  6. In the Smart Editor pane, click All and choose Initial Planning Point (and subject information).

    Initial Planning Point template in Smart Editor pane

    The list of templates is filtered to show only the Initial Planning Point template.

  7. Click the Initial Planning Point template.

    Initial Planning Point template

  8. Click the map at the beginning of the trail (zoom in as necessary).

    Rafferty Creek or Lyell Canyon trailhead with plotted IPP


    Press Ctrl when adding new features to snap them to existing features. This option is useful when adding a feature that must intersect exactly with another.

    Once the point is added, the Smart Editor pane displays an empty form that can be filled with attribute information. For the Initial Planning Point template, this information is mostly about the subject. Your team was provided a missing person form for this incident. You'll fill out the IPP's attributes using information from the form.

  9. Save the missing person form to your computer.
  10. In the Smart Editor window, enter the following information:
    • For Subject Number, type 1.
    • For Subject Name, type Ryan Powell.
    • For Category, choose Runner.
    • For Group Size, choose Solo.
    • For Gender, choose Male.
    • For Height (inches), type 71.
    • For Weight (lbs), type 180.
    • For Build, choose Large.
    • For Complexion, type Pale.
    • For Hair, type Brown.
    • For Eyes, type Brown.
    • For Other information, type No facial hair.
    • For Shirt, type White T-Shirt.
    • For Pants, type Blue running shorts.
    • For Jacket, type Unknown.
    • For Hat, type Unknown.
    • For Footwear, type Running shoes.
    • For Additional Information, type Small daypack (blue) with water bottle(s).
    • For Mobile Phone, type None.
    • For Photo Available, choose Yes.
    • For Age, type 24.
    • For Ethnicity, choose White.
    • For Date Last Seen, choose 10/8/2018 (October 8, 2018).
    • For Description of where last known, type Rafferty Creek/Lyell Canyon trailhead near Tuolumne High Sierra Camp.
    • For Initial Planning Point (IPP) Type, choose LKP (Last Known Point).

    You don't currently have information for the remaining parameters, so you'll leave them blank. The form has the option to attach a file. You'll attach the missing person form.

  11. For Attachments, click Choose File (or your browser's equivalent button). Browse to and attach the missing person form you downloaded.
  12. Click Save.

    The attribute information is saved to the IPP you added. Any features you add, edit, or delete can be seen instantly by others viewing the map, so your SAR team will be updated as soon as possible.

  13. Close the Smart Editor pane. On the map, click the IPP.

    The IPP's pop-up appears. It contains the information you added to the form.

    Pop-up for IPP


    If you want to edit the IPP's attribute information, reopen the Smart Editor widget and click the IPP on the map.

  14. Close the pop-up.

Add trail blocks for containment

The next task is to create a containment area to limit the subject's potential movement from the IPP. The farther the subject moves, the larger the search area becomes. Containment teams for this scenario have been assigned to create trail blocks at the Rafferty Creek Trail junction (near Tuolumne Meadows) and Vogelsang High Sierra Camp.

You'll add these trail blocks to the map using the Smart Editor widget.

  1. Open the Smart Editor widget.
  2. In the Smart Editor pane, click the drop-down menu and choose Assets. Click the Trail Block template.

    Trail Block template in Assets category

  3. On the map, zoom out or pan south until you reach the three-way trail junction south of Lyell Fork in Tuolumne Meadows. Add a trail block to the junction.

    Trail block at Rafferty Creek Trail junction

    You can also add attribute information to trail blocks. You'll change the trail block's description and status.

  4. In the Smart Editor pane, for Description, type Rafferty Creek Trail junction. For Status, choose Assigned.

    Attributes for the Rafferty Creek Trail junction trail block

  5. Click Save.

    Next, you'll add a trail block at Vogelsang High Sierra Camp.

  6. In the search box, search for Vogelsang and navigate to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. Close the search result pop-up.
  7. In the Smart Editor pane, click the Trail Block template. Add a trail block at the four-way junction near the camp.

    Trail block at Vogelsang High Sierra Camp

  8. For Description, type Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. For Status, choose Assigned.
  9. Click Save. Close the Smart Editor pane.

Create search assignments

During hasty initial search efforts, a search team in Lyell Canyon contacted two hikers who reportedly spoke with the subject on the Ireland Creek Trail at 1:00 p.m. the day he went missing. At that time, the subject appeared to be running comfortably up the trail on the established route.

This eyewitness sighting is the most recent known time the subject was seen, making it the Point Last Seen (PLS). Moving forward, the PLS will be the IPP for future incident planning efforts, replacing the location of the subject's vehicle in the Tuolumne High Sierra Camp parking lot.

The approximate location of the sighting, in United States National Grid (USNG) notation, happened at 11S KB 98727 87869. You'll plot this point and use it to create statistical search areas (areas that a missing person is statistically likely to travel from their PLS). The app was configured with the Situation Awareness widget, which can create these concentric circles (called buffers) around a point. Once the statistical search area is created, you'll divide it into manageable search assignments for search teams.

  1. In the search box, clear the existing search text. Copy and paste the USNG coordinate 11SKB9872787869 (no spaces) and press Enter.

    The map navigates to a point on the Ireland Creek Trail. You'll access the Situation Awareness widget from the Search result pop-up.

  2. On the Search result pop-up, click the options button and choose Set Location.

    Set Location option

    The Situation Awareness widget opens at the bottom of the app. The Incident tab is active.

    Based on Lost Person Behavior by Robert J. Koester, 25 percent of lost runners are found within 0.9 miles (1.4 kilometers) from the IPP, 50 percent are found within 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers), 75 percent are found within 2.1 miles (3.4 kilometers), and 95 percent are found within 3.6 miles (5.8 kilometers). Time and resources are limited, so you'll create a search area that represents 75 percent of lost runners.

  3. In the Situation Awareness widget, for Buffer Distance, type 3.4 kilometers. Click the Save button.

    Buffer Distance parameter and Save button

    The coordinate is saved as a new IPP and a buffer is created around it. A pop-up appears with attribute information about the buffer. You'll edit the information using the Smart Editor widget.

  4. In the Search Area Statistical pop-up, click the options button and choose Smart Editor.
  5. In the Smart Editor pane, for Percentile, choose 75.
  6. Click Save. Close the Situation Awareness widget and the Smart Editor pane and clear the search bar.

    The symbols representing the search area and the IPP change to reflect the existing template for those feature types. Now that you've established the search area, you'll divide it into manageable segments for searchers. You'll then prioritize the segments and assign them to ground teams, dog teams, and helicopters.

    In this scenario, the weather has become stormy in the park. In these conditions, the subject may have become disoriented while ascending the Ireland Creek Trail or traveling on the Rafferty Creek Trail. The subject may have left the trail to follow a drainage flow downhill, believing he was still on the trail.

    Based on this predicted behavior and the area's topography, you'll create and prioritize your search area segments. As a general rule, ground searchers can be assigned an area of 0.25 square miles (0.65 square kilometers) in an operational period. The boundaries between segments should be recognizable by searchers in the field.

    To better view the area's topography, you'll change the basemap to USA Topo Maps. This is the same basemap that is used in the USGS maps that are used by many SAR teams in the United States.

  7. On the ribbon, click the Basemap Gallery button.

    Basemap Gallery button

  8. Click the USA Topo Maps basemap.

    USA Topo Maps basemap option

    The basemap changes. It shows more detailed contour lines to indicate changes in elevation. There are many steep shifts in terrain to the east and south of the IPP. The terrain is much flatter to the west of the IPP.

    Search area with USA Topo Maps basemap


    The maps used by the USA Topo Maps basemap were authored prior to 1996. Some features may be out of date.

  9. After inspecting the topography of the search area, change the basemap to Imagery.

    Search area with Imagery basemap

    This basemap is useful for displaying vegetation and other natural features of the landscape. According to this basemap, there is dense vegetation near the creek east of the IPP. Due to the steep terrain and dense vegetation, it's unlikely that the subject would have strayed far from the trail or the creek in this area.

  10. Change the basemap to Topographic (the app's original basemap).

    Now that you understand the area better, you'll create search segments.

  11. Open the Smart Editor widget. Click the drop-down menu and choose Assignment Status. Click the Not Assigned template.

    Not Assigned template

    Adding polygon features is similar to adding point features. Each time you click the map, you create a vertex for the polygon. Double-clicking will complete the polygon.

  12. Keeping in mind the topography, natural barriers such as trails or water bodies, and the recommended size of ground search areas, draw a search area on the map.

    First search area being edited on map

    In the example image, the search area uses the trail, a nearby creek, two small lakes, and elevation contours as its boundaries. Your search area doesn't need to match the example image exactly.

    Once the drawing is finished, the Smart Editor pane displays a form for the search area's attribute information. You can give the search area an assignment number and determine its priority. Once the search area is assigned, you can also use this form to change its assignment status. The example search area covers a large, flat area not far from the IPP, so you'll assign it a high priority.


    For more information about how to prioritize search areas, read the article Wilderness Search Strategy and Tactics by Phillips et al.

  13. In the Smart Editor pane, for Assignment Number, type 1. For Priority, choose High.

    Attribute information for the first search area

    The form contains many more fields, many of which are only relevant when the search area has been assigned and searched. You'll leave those fields empty for now.

  14. Click Save.

    The number of search areas you create will depend on the available time and resources. A real search operation may have 20 or 30 search areas. For the purposes of this exercise, you'll only create a few more.

  15. Using basemaps, water bodies, trails, and other features, create seven or eight more search areas and give them appropriate attribute information (you can create more if you want). Create most of your search areas in the relatively flat areas near trails west of the IPP.

    Additional search areas

  16. When finished, close the Smart Editor pane.

Print a map

Next, you'll create a print map of a search assignment to send to a team in the field. While you can access your app on mobile devices, print maps are sometimes preferred by SAR teams.

  1. Click the Print widget.

    Print widget

    The Print pane appears.

  2. Navigate to the first segment you created. For Map title, type INC001 - Segment 1 - Team A.

    Map title for print map

    You'll change the name of the map's author to reflect the team being assigned.

  3. Click Advanced. For Author, type Team A.

    Author for print map

  4. Click Print.

    After a few moments, a PDF map is generated and listed in the Print pane. (You can also generate print maps in other file formats by changing the Format parameter).

    PDF listed in Print pane

  5. Click the PDF to open it in a new browser tab.

    The print map's extent may differ from the extent of your map, depending on the print map's layout. You can change the Layout parameter before generating the print map to choose a layout better suited for what you intend to show. In the Advanced options, you can also choose whether the print map will maintain the extent of your map or the scale; scale is chosen by default.

  6. If you're satisfied with the print map, save it to your computer or print it using your browser's saving and printing options.
  7. Close the browser tab showing the print map. Close the Print pane.

    Now that you've created a print map, you'll update the status of this segment from Unassigned to In Progress.

  8. On the map, click the first segment you created. In the pop-up, click the options button and choose Smart Editor.

    The Smart Editor pane appears.

  9. For Assignment Status, choose In Progress.

    Assignment Status changed to In Progress

  10. Click Save and close the Smart Editor pane.

    The segment changes from red to yellow. Yellow is the symbol for search segments that are in progress.

Add GPS tracks

Although you've only assigned one search segment, for the purposes of this exercise you'll assume that you've assigned a number of search segments to various teams. At the end of the day, teams assigned to various segments have returned to the staging area.

When teams search, they bring GPS devices with them. They use GPS for navigation and to record tracks of where they've searched. GPS units and many smartphone apps can export these tracks as .gpx files, which can be displayed on maps. You'll download the tracks, add them to the map, and update the status of search assignments.

  1. Open the INC001_Assignments_GPS_Tracks details page in a new browser tab. Click Download.

    The file is saved to your computer as a zipped folder.

  2. Locate the file on your computer and unzip it to a location you can easily remember, such as your Documents folder.

    The unzipped folder contains a single file: INC001_Assignments.gpx.

  3. In the MapSAR Situational Awareness Viewer app, on the ribbon, click the Add Data button.

    Add Data button

    The Add Data pane appears.

  4. Click the File tab and click Browse.

    Browse button on File tab of Add Data pane

  5. Browse to and open the INC001_Assignments.gpx file.

    You can also add a file by dragging it to the Add Data pane.

    The GPS tracks are added as a new line layer with red symbols on the map. The layer is also added to the Layer List pane.

  6. Open the Layer List pane and turn off the Assignment Status layer.

    GPS tracks added to map

    The tracks began at campsites in Tuolumne Meadows and moved along established trails to the search area. The densest cluster of tracks occurs in the eastern portion of the statistical search area, where you previously believed the missing person might be because of the flat terrain and low vegetation.

    This layer is only temporary. It'll be removed from the map once the app is refreshed or reopened. You'll use the Situation Awareness widget to copy these tracks to the Routes layer so they permanently appear on the map. There are six tracks total. (Normally, these tracks would be provided as six individual files, but for the purpose of this exercise they have been combined into one.) You'll need to add each track individually.

  7. In the Layer List pane, click the options button for INC001_Assignments - tracks and choose View in Attribute Table.

    The table appears, showing the six features in the layer. The tracks don't have much attribute information; depending on how they're captured, they may have more.

  8. In the table, click the button to the left of the first track to select it.

    First track selected in attribute table

    The track is highlighted on the map.

  9. Navigate to the track and click the Hide Attribute Table button. Click the track to open its pop-up.

    To quickly zoom to a selected feature, in the attribute table, click Zoom to.

  10. In the pop-up, click the options button and choose Set Location.

    The Situation Awareness pane appears at the bottom of the app. If you have not closed the app since creating the search area, a buffer with a distance of 3.4 kilometers is automatically created around the route. You don't need this buffer.

  11. If necessary, for Buffer Distance, type 0.
  12. Click Save.

    The track is saved as a route. You'll change the route's status from Assigned to Complete.

  13. In the pop-up, click the Previous feature or Next feature buttons as necessary to switch the pop-up from the INC001 Assignments layer to the Routes layer.

    Next feature and Previous feature buttons

  14. Change Route Status to Complete. Scroll to the bottom of the pop-up and click Done.

    Route Status attribute in pop-up

  15. Add the remaining five GPS tracks to the Routes layer and change their status to Complete.
  16. In the Layer List pane, turn off the INC001_Assignments - tracks layer. In the attribute table, click Clear selection and hide the attribute table.

    The routes are now displayed in green, signifying completion. Next, you'll compare the routes to the search segments and change the status of the segments accordingly.

  17. Turn on the Assignment Status layer.

    Routes and search segments

    On your map, as in the example images, it's likely that the search segments and GPS tracks don't correspond exactly. In a real scenario, you would not change a search segment's status until it has been searched completely, but for the purposes of this exercise, you'll change the status of any segments that have been mostly covered by the search.

  18. Click a search segment that should have its status changed. In its pop-up, click the options button and choose Smart Editor.
  19. Change Assignment Status to Complete and click Save. Close the Smart Editor pane.
  20. Change the status of any other segments significantly covered by GPS tracks.

    Segments on map with status changed to Complete

Map incident data

After the first day of searching, the subject has still not been found. Additional SAR teams and search managers have been requested from the surrounding area. It'll be important to clearly identify incident assets and logistics information on the map. You'll also need to map new clues as they're uncovered. When the missing subject is finally found, you'll also document it for reporting purposes and to improve future search operations.

First, you'll add the Incident Command Post (ICP). Various SAR teams will need to know how to navigate to the ICP. The ICP for this incident is in Yosemite Valley. You'll add it to the map based on its coordinates.

  1. In the search box, copy and paste 11SKB7188981200 and press Enter.

    The map navigates to the location of the ICP and the Search result pop-up appears.

    ICP location in Yosemite Valley

  2. Open the Smart Editor widget.
  3. In the Smart Editor pane, click the drop-down menu and choose Assets. Click the ICP template.

    ICP template in Smart Editor pane

  4. Add the ICP to the location of the search result. In the Smart Editor pane, click Save.

    You'll add a few other assets by following the same workflow. One will be the staging area for SAR teams and the other will be the helibase (the location where helicopters land and take off).

  5. Using the search box and the Smart Editor pane, add the following asset:
    • Location: 11SKB9387194764
    • Template: Staging (Assets category)
    Staging asset placement

    One team is assigned to search likely paths of travel north of the Ireland Creek Trail, where the subject was last seen. They observe some recent tracks that were protected from the weather by trees and left by running shoes. This clue provides a direction of travel: the subject was heading north, into the east fork of Rafferty Creek.

    The clue was reported using a clue form. You'll plot this clue on the map.

  6. Search for and navigate to the coordinates 11SKB9554987862. Close the Search result pop-up and open the Smart Editor widget.

  7. In the Smart Editor pane, click the drop-down menu and choose Clue Points. Click the Relevant template and add a point at the location of the search result.

    You'll update the clue's attribute information from data included in the form. You'll also attach the clue form for reference.

  8. In the Smart Editor pane, enter the following attribute information:
    • For Clue Number, type 001.
    • For Description, type Running shoes tracks.
    • Confirm that Relevancy is set to Relevant.
    • For Collector/Team Name, type Team 5.
    • For USNG, type 11SKB9554987862.
    • For Incident ID, type INC001.
  9. Download the clue form. For Attachments, click Choose File and attach the clue form.
  10. Click Save. Close the Smart Editor pane and clear the search text. On the map, click the clue point to view its pop-up.

    Clue Point pop-up on map

  11. Close the pop-up.

    Shortly after this clue is discovered, the subject Ryan Powell is located along the east fork of Rafferty Creek. After becoming disoriented in the low visibility of the storm, Ryan left the Ireland Creek Trail and began following the east fork drainage, believing he was in the west fork. After being unable to locate the trail, he found a rock overhang and used an emergency blanket to bivouac overnight.

    This SAR incident has been successfully resolved. You'll plot the location where the subject was found.

  12. In the Layer List pane, confirm that Found or Suspension is turned on. Search for and navigate to 11SKB9568588786.
  13. Close the Search result pop-up and open the Smart Editor widget.
  14. Click the drop-down menu and choose Found or Suspension. Click the Found Suspension template.

    Found Suspension template

  15. Add a feature at the location of the search result.

    As with other features you've added, you can add attribute information.

  16. In the Smart Editor pane, enter the following attributes:
    • For Subject Number, type 001.
    • For Found/Suspension, choose Found.
    • For Scenario, choose Lost.
    • For USNG, type 11SKB9568588786.

    There are many other parameters you can change, but for now, these will suffice.

  17. Click Save. Close the Smart Editor pane and clear the search text.

Create a snapshot

It's important to archive incident information in order to report the incident and improve future search operations. Often, search operation reports are limited to textual descriptions and geographic information is lost.

You'll create a snapshot using the Situation Awareness widget. This snapshot will save new incident data layers in a time-stamped web map, preserving the situation at a specific moment in time.

  1. Click the Situation Awareness widget (under the search box).

    The Situation Awareness widget opens to the Incident tab. The map zooms out to the full extent of the relevant data, showing the search area, the surrounding trails, and the location where the subject was found. Some data layers are automatically turned on or off.

    You'll draw a polygon around the relevant area. This polygon will become the extent of your snapshot.

  2. Under Locate Incident, click the Draw polygon button.

    Draw polygon button

  3. Using the same polygon editing controls you used when drawing search segments, draw a polygon around the relevant search data, including the PLS, the LKP, the entire search area, and some of the surrounding trails.

    Polygon drawn around incident data

  4. In the Situation Awareness widget, click Create snapshot.

    Create snapshot button

    The Set Snapshot Properties window appears.

  5. For Name, type Incident 001 20181009.
  6. Click OK.

    After a few seconds, the snapshot is created. A message appears to confirm successful creation.

  7. Click Created snapshot successfully.

    Created snapshot successfully message link

    The snapshot opens as a web map in a new browser tab. The data may be turned off by default, but can be turned on from the Content pane. This web map can be shared using the Share button.

In this lesson, you created and used the MapSAR Situation Awareness Viewer to search for a missing person in Yosemite National Park. You plotted the IPP, highlighted points of interest, created assignment maps, updated data as developments occurred, and archived important incident data.

This lesson covered most basic capabilities needed for a search operation. However, GIS provides many more capabilities for data management, field mobility, spatial analysis, and geographic storytelling.

You can find more lessons in the Learn ArcGIS Lesson Gallery.