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Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Get GIS Software


ArcGIS: commercially available GIS software from ESRI

ArcGIS Pro: ESRI's latest commercially available GIS software

QGIS: free and open source GIS software

OpenGeoDa: free software for running spatial statistics

CrimeStat: free software for analyzing crime data

Get ESRI ArcGIS Desktop

ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) software is available to the MIT community for teaching and research. Extensions for ArcGIS Desktop are included in the MIT site license.

  1. Download ArcGIS Desktop.
  2. Follow the installation instructions below.
  3. You can choose to download ESRI data from the same IS&T site from which you downloaded ArcGIS. The data include administrative boundaries, roads, rivers, etc. Most of the data layers can be downloaded individually from the ESRI web site.

ArcGIS does not run on a MAC. See information in the box below.

Running ArcGIS on a Mac

ArcGIS only runs on Windows, however there are ways to run it on a Mac:

Run it inside a Windows OS installation on the MAC.

Use the citrix server.

  1. Download the Citrix Receiver for your hardware.
  2. Once you have installed the program, open a web browser and navigate to
  3. Login using your kerberos username and password (and ATHENA.MIT.EDU left as the domain).
  4. If prompted, indicate that you have already downloaded the Citrix Receiver.
  5. Select the ArcGIS 10_4 folder and then select ArcMap, ArcCatalog, or ArcScene depending on the application you would like to run.

The Citrix server can be slow at times and may not be the best option if you will be processing large amounts of data. If you are having trouble accessing data, put it onto your H:\ drive (available on WinAthena machines). That drive is visible from the Citrix version of ArcGIS. You can find WinAthena drives on the computers in the GIS Lab in Rotch Library.

Using ArcGIS off-campus

You need to be connected to the MIT Network to use ArcGIS, so that the license server can authenticate. If you will be working off-campus, you can use ArcGIS through the VPN

If you experience problems connecting to ArcMap through the VPN, see this important information.

If your Internet connection is slow, unreliable, or you will be without Internet Access, you can check out a license so you can work offline.

  • You can check it out for up to 180 days.
  • You need to be connected the MIT Network before attempting to borrow a license.
  • Sometimes VPN connections are unreliable so borrow a license before you leave campus.

How to Check Out a License:

  1. Navigate to the Windows Start menu>ArcGIS>ArcGIS Administrator or search for ArcGIS Administrator.
  2. Under the Desktop folder on the left side of the window, point to Borrow/Return.
  3. Check the licenses you will be using. Make sure to check Desktop Advanced.
  4. Click Apply. It may take a few minutes to borrow the license.
  5. When you are back on the MIT Network, return to this page, uncheck everything, and click Apply.

ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro is ESRI's newest GIS software, with a new interface design, tools, and 2D and 3D integration. Like ArcMap, it only runs on Windows. Currently an ArcMap user? See what's new in ArcGIS Pro.

There are 2 options for downloading and licensing the software:

Option 1Download ArcGIS Pro from IS&T and configure the license server. You must be on the MIT network to access the license. This is a good option for lab or shared computers.

Option 2: Access a Pro license through ArcGIS Online (AGOL)‚Äč. This is a good option for your personal computer.

  1. Create an ArcGIS Online (AGOL) account.
  2. If you have not already downloaded Pro, log into your AGOL account. From your account page, click your name in the upper right and select My settings > Licenses and click download next to ArcGIS Pro.
  3. After installing Pro, you'll be prompted to sign in the first time you open it. The Sign in box will match the ArcGIS Online login.
    • If you have a username and password (not your kerberos login), enter you information into the ArcGIS login box.
    • If you created your account with your MIT Kerberos, choose "Your ArcGIS organization's URL" and enter 'mit' in the box and click Continue. You'll then be able to login with your MIT Kerberos.

If you are currently running Pro from the license server (Concurrent Use license) and want to switch to a personal license through ArcGIS Online, follow these steps:

  1. Create an ArcGIS Online account if you have not already.
  2. Open Pro and click on Settings > Licensing > Configure your licensing options.
  3. Choose Named User License in the dropdown menu and select ArcGIS Online. You can then sign in with your account as described above.

ArcGIS Pro Extensions

Having trouble with Pro extensions (spatial analyst, network analyst, etc.)?

IS&T has not yet installed all the extension licenses on the MIT server so if you are accessing Pro using the license server (Concurrent Use license type), you will not be able to use all the extensions. Until this is resolved, you can license Pro through ArcGIS Online by following the steps above for switching to a Named User License.

The following extensions are automatically included with your Named User License through ArcGIS Online:

  • 3D Analyst
  • Geostatistical Analyst
  • Image Analyst
  • Network Analyst
  • Spatial Analyst

Need to use another extension? Email us and we'll activate it for your account.


Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) licensed under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). It runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, Windows and Android and supports numerous vector, raster, and database formats and functionalities.


GeoDa is a free software program that serves as an introduction to spatial data analysis. OpenGeoDa is the cross-platform, open source version that runs on different versions of Windows (including XP, Vista and 7), Mac OS, and Linux.


CrimeStat is a spatial statistics program for the analysis of crime incident locations. CrimeStat is Windows-based and interfaces with most desktop GIS programs. The program includes more than 100 statistical routines for the spatial analysis of crime and other incidents. CrimeStat inputs incident locations (e.g., robbery locations) in dbf, point shp or ASCII formats using either spherical or projected coordinates. It calculates various spatial statistics and writes graphical objects to ArcGIS, MapInfo, Surfer for Windows and other GIS packages.