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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.

ArcGIS or Google Maps?

April 5th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

This is a question we are asked often: should we use ArcGIS or Google Maps to solve our WHERE challenge?

You know our usual answer……. it depends!

ArcGIS or Google Maps?

Why would we say that, aren’t Esri and Google bitter rivals, offering similar mapping solutions?

Actually No.

Your choice depends very much on your WHERE challenge. Let’s provide two examples.

1) Bike Trail Map – Imagine your WHERE challenge is sharing with bikers the route of a trail. You have collected data on the trails route, drinking fountains, restrooms etc en-route, have taken photos at various points on the trail and would like to include a directions option for those trying to find the trail. What stands out here in this description? Simplicity. This is a simple WHERE question. Though ArcGIS can provide a solution, the simplicity here lends itself well to Google.

2) Oil Well Discovery – In this second example, you work for an oil company. Your WHERE question is focused on discovering new oil wells. You’ll need to add many layers to a map to help in your decision making process, plus tools – measure, draw, identify etc. Different to the first example, this is a complex WHERE question. GIS is designed to bring together many data-sets and provide WHERE answers to complex questions. ArcGIS is your technology answer here.

Now I am being very simplistic in my examples here. But in general, Google is more consumer focused, providing simple tools and answers to less complex WHERE questions. GIS is more of an enterprise solution. ArcGIS is a GIS platform which provides access to rich data-sets and a plethora of tools and configurable applications to move quickly from more complex questions to answers.

Too often technology is the first consideration when approaching WHERE problems. Before you choose Google Maps or ArcGIS, or indeed dive deeper into either of these technologies; problem definition and story evolution are required. What are you trying to solve and how might that solution look?

Take a systematic, methodical approach before jumping into the technology. Understand your WHERE challenge and goals. This approach will pay big dividends in the long term.

Contact us on 801-733-0723.

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

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