ArcGIS How To Hack Tip – A Fast, Simple ArcGIS Map Mashup of Flickr Photos and Foursquare Checkins

Here’s a simple how to tutorial on working with the free to easily import KML or RSS data from Flickr and foursquare into ArcGIS to create your own custom map mashup

With all the talk about Global hack day and our own local Hackday event taking place in my city this week-end, it got me thinking about doing a little hacking with open tools and open data of my own… heck, why not? As luck would have it, just today I noticed a couple of interesting Twitter updates that got my attention. First, some details of updates to came out of the Esri camp. Sorry, I’ve lost the actual Tweet, however, it was pointing me to an article in ArcGIS online describing all the cool, new functionality in including loads of new enhancements and support for importing KML – see details HERE

Another interesting update I saw came from Avenza Systems @Avenza commenting to me about their latest update to the awesome PDF Maps app for iOS – this latest update (Available here in iTunes) also supports KML import to your PDF Maps – I’ve yet to try it but it’s definitely on my list of things to do and share!

So, on to a little test with I started by logging into my account (yes this is free and available to all). I zoomed to my local area (S. Vancouver Island, Canada) and began adding data layers. First, since I’m a pretty huge photo nut, I naturally wanted to map some of my photos. From my Flickr (Pro) account I can easily grab a GeoRSS feed so I dropped that into the map on top of an OSM basemap data layer. Note, to locate your Flickr feed login to your account then scroll to the very bottom to locate the RSS feed links. I easily added these daya as a KML layer into my map. Next was a quick little test to drop in my foursquare checkin history. This is kind of cool! With a little digging around (Actually lots of digging) I manged to finally locate my foursquare data as a feed. To do this you’ll need to login to your foursquare account then hit the following weblink – – here you’ll find your history data available in RSS, KML, and ICS format. Again I then added a new data layer to my map by adding the foursquare KML data… pretty simple!

Finally, I created a title and added a little bit of meta data – honestly, I still find the UI to be a little cumbersome at doing this along with other basic customizations like messing with the legend, styles etc… but since it’s a free web service I can live with that!

A look at my map with Flickr data added

Flickr data available when clicking on photos

The final map with foursquare data added

Once saved, the map is available to share, either via the provided weblink – See my map here, or to embed in a website – see below

View Larger Map

For a little fun I also created a similar mashup using Google Maps and added my Google Places data. Again pretty easy to create and fast to share via G+

Useful resources:

  • Locate your foursquare data feeds (note, you need to be logged into foursquare for this to work) see
  • Your Google Places data – again, you’ll need to be logged into your Global Google account then see You should be able to locate your feed of data from reviews etc… on left, lower sidebar. Apparently you can import foursquare checkin data here too but I’m still checkin on this.
  • Help from Google Places blog on working with Places data
  • –
Editor (18230 Posts)

Glenn is a geographer and a GIS professional with over 20 years experience in the industry. He's the co-founder of GISuser and several other technology web publications.

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