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Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

Getting the most out of your GIS

June 30th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

I am often asked “How do we get the most out of our GIS”. This comes both from those new to the technology and seasoned professionals. As GIS becomes more popular, this question will be ever more common. I thought in this blog post it worth discussing how to get the most out of your GIS.

GIS is moving away from being perceived as only mapping technology. It is now being properly recognised as a tool to solve business problems. That change in emphasis naturally moves the focus from the technology to the problem. The first step in getting the most out of your GIS is stepping back and asking:

What is the problem and how might a solution look?

Surprisingly these two fundamental questions are often overlooked. In our GIS Discover Workshop this is the place we often begin. Once you understand what you are trying to solve and story-boarded the solution, you can gently step into the technology.

For the next part of the discussion, let’s focus our attention on ArcGIS. There are 3 potential ArcGIS implementations: ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS, we will here focus on Server and Online.

1) Getting the most out of ArcGIS Server

ArcGIS Server remains a popular GIS solution. Much emphasis today is on WebGIS (ArcGIS Online/ Portal), but business reasons mean some organizations cannot yet adopt this new approach.

A question we are often asked is ” We have ArcGIS Server only but would like some of the applications which are available within the WebGIS sphere is that possible?” Two common requests are:

a) We would like to replace the Flex Viewer for ArcGIS with an HTML5 equivalent
b) We want a mobile offline editing app like Collector for ArcGIS

Moving forward to using HTML5 web applications is a very good idea, some of the advantages include:

– A Web application runs on any device (office PC, laptop, any mobile).
– If widget based, these Web applications are configurable and very flexible.
– Web applications can be easily styled and extended.
– Web applications work against ArcGIS Server, Online or Portal.
– Mobile Web applications can be offline enabled providing map viewing and editing in areas with poor or no wireless connectivity.

We have been giving this much thought, and have developed a pure HTML5 GIS Web application which both replaces the Flex Viewer for ArcGIS, and provides offline editing capabilities directly against ArcGIS Server (also Online and Portal)

2) Getting the most out of ArcGIS Online (WebGIS)

I’ve used this analogy in other blog posts, but ArcGIS Online is a little like walking into Best Buy: an amazing number of choices, but where does one begin?

As mentioned, understanding the problem and story-boarding is a good launch pad for moving forward with ArcGIS Online. When we provide GIS implementation guidance to customers, we emphasise data. Too often this core or foundation of your GIS is overlooked. Accurate, and complete data forms the building block of everything else you do with GIS. Remember garbage in means garbage out.

Leverage the many applications which come with ArcGIS Online. I’m tempted to repeat that. One huge benefit of Online is the wealth of web and mobile apps which are provided. We look here, or to our own configurable GIS apps, with any customer implementation. If you are water company, utility, real estate company, there are a multitude of focused apps for you to quickly configure and use. Focused templates, WebApp Builder apps, storymaps, mobile apps like Navigator for ArcGIS; the list goes on. Need some help? Look to WebMapSolutions or another Esri partner to guide you.

If you have questions contact us on 801-733-0723.

Categories: ArcGIS Online, cloud GIS, Mobile ArcGIS, Mobile GIS, Web and mobile GIS

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