You have likely seen SpatialCloud.com (subsidiary of Aerial Services) and learned a bit about its useful streaming geodata services (what is SpatialCloud?), but you may have asked, “how can I access data from SpatialCloud?” In addition to programmatic ways developers choose to use SpatialCloud in browser applications, there are a number of ways to use SpatialCloud data with your desktop GIS applications.
The easiest way to get SpatialCloud data into your GIS is finding an application which can read the recently approved Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Mapping Tile Services (WMTS) standard (see the OGC list here). If you don’t want to or can’t use these, it is likely most GIS systems will be adding support for this standard in future releases, but for now you do have other options.
One of the most common GIS tools, ESRI’s ArcGIS, does not read WMTS, but does fully support it with a free extension called ArcBruTile. This open source project, of which SpatialCloud is a supporter, allows WMTS datasets to be viewed naively inside ArcGIS tools just like any other dataset. Download and install the extension then type your SpatialCloud credentials (obtained at SpatialCloud.com) in an ArcBruTile text file, and you are set to go. SpatialCloud layers (or “MapStreams” as we like to call them) will appear and function like any other web services layer but with one key difference.
The most common type of web services now used in ArcGIS and other desktop GIS applications are WMS services. These are typically slow because they are not scalable (heavy use slows them down) and many are quite unreliable because the infrastructure hosting them is under powered or not managed for continuous enterprise use. SpatialCloud MapStreams are highly scalable and enterprise class highly available services because they are WMTS (tile-based) services and built on the Amazon cloud platform (AWS).