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Overview of image management

Massive volumes of imagery and remote sensing data exist. These datasets have significant value when the information inside them becomes accessible. ArcGIS Pro provides extensive enterprise image management capabilities and is used by organizations in a wide range of industries to manage their imagery holdings, making them accessible and turning them into useful information products for both visualization and analysis. Managing imagery and raster data efficiently and correctly is key to ensuring accessibility. For this, ArcGIS Pro uses a geodatabase structure called mosaic datasets to manage the imagery. In addition, ArcGIS Pro includes all the technology and associated tools needed to build and maintain mosaic datasets.

A mosaic dataset is a well-defined geodatabase structure optimized for working with large collections of imagery and rasters. Mosaic datasets are stored as either a file geodatabase or an enterprise geodatabase. The imagery and raster data does not need to reside in the database. Most organizations instead store it as files on enterprise or cloud storage. A single mosaic dataset can reference millions of images and make them appear as a single virtual dataset or enable quick access to any individual image or collection of images. With mosaic datasets, the large volume of pixel data (contained in the imagery and rasters) is not loaded into the database and is instead referenced. The metadata about the data sources, as well as information on how to process the imagery into different products, is stored in the mosaic dataset. When a request for imagery is made, the mosaic dataset is used to determine what images are required and what processing is to be applied. Only the required imagery is read, processed, and returned. To learn more, see Mosaic Datasets.

ArcGIS Pro has a wide range of tools to process and manage large collections of Imagery on the Data tab on the Raster contextual tab. When you talk about collections of data, you are either referring to mosaic datasets or image services. Think of the mosaic dataset as a container for your imagery, and the image service is that same container but it has been shared on a server. The mosaic dataset or image service you are working with may have been created and shared by someone else, and they set up limits on what you can and cannot do with the service. Since they both represent collections of imagery, there are similarities in what you can do to manage them.

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