Streaming Data Services (WMS, WFS, etc.)

NC OneMap Shaded Relief
North Carolina 20 ft. resolution shaded relief from the NC OneMap ArcGIS Map Server, Elevation Service, viewed using QGIS.


The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has defined several REST protocols for the transfer of geospatial data from servers to client applications, summarized below.  For each of these, by using a specially structured https request, you can call a dataset (eg. orthoimagery, boundaries, highways) into your GIS software application.

  • WMS - Web Mapping Service.  Delivers georeferenced map images (e.g. GIF, JPG) without storing a local copy of the dataset.  May also contain a Styled Layer Descriptor (SLD) to specify symbolization.  Works great for orthoimagery and basemap reference data.
  • WMTS - Web Map Tile Service.  Delivers pregenerated georeferenced map images and may contain styles, dimensions, or tiling schemes to specify the display settings.
  • WFS - Web Feature Service.  Serves, queries, and updates feature geometry and attributes using a Geography Markup Language (GML) profile.  
  • WCS - Delivers raster data and cell values, such as elevation values from a digital elevation model (DEM) or pixel values from a multiband image.  

Recommended Services and Directories

Connection Instructions

To connect to a service, select and copy a service link and paste the link where your software asks to specify the URL.  If the service is coming from an ArcGIS Server (most are), then the connection will work best by choosing ArcGIS Map Server or Feature Server in your software, rather than WMS, WFS, etc.

You can find more detailed instructions by searching online, or use one of these links:

QGIS 3.10

ArcGIS Pro


ArcGIS Online