National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Create an Offline Copy

The National Incident Feature Service (NIFS) is designed to be used on incidents of any size. This will help with streamlining data sharing, quick deployment of ArcGIS Online and mobile data collection apps, and transitioning between teams.

Editing the NIFS is essential to the role of a GISS. This is accomplished using Offline Copies. An Offline Copy is a downloaded subset of data from the NIFS which can be edited like a regular geodatabase and then synced with the service to apply the changes and pull down other’s updates.

Even though they allow for multiple simultaneous editors, Feature Service and Offline Copy edits have none of the conflict protection or resolution capabilities of a truly versioned environment. Great care must be taken not to overwrite other user data.

Best practices for editing the NIFS include:

  • Only ever download and/or edit an incident you are assigned to.
  • SYNC-EDIT-SYNC: Sync immediately before and after each editing session. Limit editing sessions to short time periods. Sync can be performed any time during editing session.
  • If there are multiple editors, establish clear geographic, and/or temporal boundaries and communicate frequently.
    • E.g., GISS 1 will only edit features within Branch I, while GISS 2 will only edit features within Branch II.
    • E.g., GISS 2 will not begin afternoon edits until GISS 1 has confirmed that morning edits are completed and synced.
  • Educate field data collectors on editing conflicts and coordinate their assignments to avoid them. Geographic boundaries work best for field editors.
    • E.g., FOBS 1 will only edit features within DIV A, while FOBS 2 will only edit features within DIV Z.
  • Extra care and communication should be paid to suppression repair tracking to ensure READs and other field editors do not conflict.
    • E.g., READs should not be assigned to update suppression repair status and notes in areas where FOBS or others are updating operational data. If assigned to the same area, field editors should work together to complete both objectives.

For examples of conflicts and GISS Watch-Out situations, see the section Offline-Editing Conflict Resolution in the National Incident Feature Services and Hosted Feature Services.

Configure ArcGIS Pro Portals and Options

  1. You must be signed into the NIFC AGOL as your active portal in order to access the GISS Edit Service.

    National Interagency Fire Center title and website address are circled in red.
    1. If your ArcGIS Pro license comes from a different account, follow the instructions provided in this article to configure your Portals.
      A Tale of Two Portals – Part 2 of 3 (
  2. Set the download location.
    From the Project tab on the ribbon > Options > Share and Download > Offline Maps, select Ask where to save before downloading and click OK.

    Two options are circled in red: 1. Offline Maps  2.Ask where to save before downloading

Add the GISS Edit Service

  1. In the Catalog pane, click on Portal and then the cloud with a star for My Favorites. Right-click the GISS Edit service and select Add To Current Map.

    Circled in red is  the button to  Add To Current Map.
Note: To add the GISS Edit Service to the My Favorites menu, open the item page in AGOL from the bottom of the home page and click Add to Favorites under the thumbnail.

Circled in red is the option to add the GISS Edit Service to the My Favorites menu
  1. The service can also be added by URL with Add Data from Path
    1. On the Map ribbon tab, open the Add Data dropdown and select “Add Data” from Path
    2. Copy and paste the URL path to the NIFC AGOL “GISS Edit Service (National Incident Feature Service” into the dialogue box. Both the NIFC Org Item URL and REST URL will work.

      Highlighted is the option to add data using a local path or URL

Add a Vector Tile Layer base map

Optionally, add a vector tile layer to your edit map as a basemap from the Data Layers – National Incident Base Data group in NIFC ArcGIS Online. An Esri basemap can be used as an alternative if a vector tile layer does not exist for your Geographic Area. Like the GISS Edit service, if you add the vector tile layer (not the vtpk) for your Geographic Area to your Favorites in NIFC ArcGIS Online, you can add the vector tile layer to your map in Pro from the Contents Pane > Portal > My Favorites.

Prior to downloading the Offline Copy, your edit map contents should resemble the following:
The edit map contents checkboxes are all selected.

Create an Offline Copy

The Offline Copy is a mobile geodatabase (.geodatabase file extension) and should be used for all editing. While feature services can be edited directly in Pro, the NIFS should not be edited ‘live’ in Pro.

Note: The coordinate reference system of the Offline Copy will be automatically reprojected to the local projected coordinate system of the map frame upon creation.
  1. Locate your incident using approximate coordinates from your Resource Order or search the Event Polygon feature layer for your incident name. There should be a triangle in Event Polygon that was auto-generated from IRWIN when the incident was created; the triangle can be used as a starting point and contains the correct IRWIN ID.
  2. After locating the triangle in the Event Polygon for the incident, zoom out to a geographic extent that captures the incident area and projected spread. Consider major transportation routes to and from the fire. If there are other fires in the area, attempt to exclude data from other incidents in your Map Frame. Data appearing within your Map Frame when you Download Map will be downloaded to your Offline Copy.

    Zoomed out to a geographic extent--points highlighted: 1. Locate auto generated IRWIN triangle in the Event Polygon and 2. Ensure map frame is zoomed out to incident area & predicted speed
    From the Map tab on the ribbon > Offline section > click Download Map.
    1. If you added a vector tile layer as a basemap, check the box to Include basemap & tile layers and keep the max scale at the default value.
    2. Click Download and set the download location to the \incident_data\edit* folder and click OK. Do not move or rename the Offline Copy.
    *Note: Do not save the Offline Copy in a OneDrive synced folder. If using SharePoint to store and OneDrive to sync the incident files, save the Offline Copy to a logical place on your local C: drive such as C:\2024_Incidents\2024_Demo.


    1. Once the download is complete, change the Contents pane to List by Data Source and confirm that the source for GISS Edit Service (National Incident Feature Service 2024) is now a mobile geodatabase (.geodatabase).

      Contents pane on Data Source view with the local copy created from the GISS Edit service highlighted.
    2. If you downloaded a vector tile layer with the GISS Edit service, remove both the vector tile layer and vector tile package from the Contents pane.

      GISS Edit service windows pane demonstrating how to  remove vector title layer and vector tile package from the Contents pane,.

      1. Locate the downloaded vector tile package (e.g. Basemap_WestGACCs…) in the \incident_data\edit folder in the Catalog pane, move it to the \base_data\basemaps folder and rename it {current date}_{time}_{incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_24k_vector_base.vtpk.

        Downloaded vector title package  file directory structure. red arrow pointing to basemaps folder
      2. Re-add the vector tile package from \base_data\basemaps to the map below, but separate from the Event Group – All Layers in the Contents pane.

        Readd the vector tile package


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