Why you need to start using ArcGIS Online
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Many organizations in Kenya are using ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Enterprise for GIS analysis and map production. A fair share of them don’t use ArcGIS Online and miss out on its exciting features and capabilities. Let’s take a closer look.

ArcGIS Overview

Esri has release several GIS & mapping products under the ArcGIS brand name. This includes ArcGIS Enterprise a server-based solution, and ArcGIS Desktop a suite of products that can be deployed on a desktop. When you buy an ArcGIS Desktop license, you get access to ArcMap and ArcCatalog, ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online.

ArcMap and ArcCatalog are legacy products that remain popular due to their widespread use. ArcGIS Pro is a Esri’s next generation GIS with more extensive capabilities and enhanced performance. Give it a try if you are still using ArcMap and ArcCatalog.

ArcGIS Online is Esri’s software as a service (SaaS) solution than runs on any device with an internet connection. It gives you a complete GIS solution but also integrates with ArcMap and ArcCatalog and ArcGIS Pro.

In Kenya ArcGIS Online has not been widely embraced. It requires a current ArcGIS Desktop license, and this is a challenge for organizations that don’t have an annual GIS budget. The lack of good internet connectivity could be another constraint, especially in remote areas.

I do believe that the benefits of ArcGIS Online easily outweigh the constraints that you are facing. In the next section we’ll give you 5 reasons why you should start using ArcGIS Online today.

1.    Easily Share Content

Once you have created a beautiful map or an insightful analysis you might want to share it with your co-workers, other organizations and perhaps the public. ArcGIS Online makes this easy by sharing content at the following levels:

  • Owner – content can only be accessed by the person who created it
  • Organization – content can be accessed by all members of the organization
  • Everyone (public) – content can be accessed by people outside your organization

Sharing content in ArcGIS Online

In addition, you can share your content with the members of a group, such as a department or project team. Groups can even incorporate ArcGIS Online users from other organizations, which is ideal when you’re working with the same data.

2.    Get a Cost-Effective Solution

ArcGIS Online provides a complete GIS solution that satisfies the requirements of most organizations. Since the solution is running in the cloud you don’t need to invest in ICT infrastructure and only require good internet connectivity. Licensing fees are also low compared to ArcGIS Enterprise and the addition of ArcGIS Pro licenses is optional.

ArcGIS user types are assigned to named users within your organizations based on the GIS tasks that they perform. For example, the Field Worker user type can be assigned to a field data collector, while the GIS analyst is assigned the Advanced user type and provided with an ArcGIS Pro license. This not only reduces licensing fees, but gives you control over who is able to do what.

ArcGIS Online User Types and licenses

3.    Accessing Community Data

ArcGIS Online give you access to tons of data from Esri, Esri partners and the Esri user community at no cost. The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World provides a wide collection of basemaps and imagery which can be used as a backdrop to your own GIS data. It also gives access to authoritative national demographics and statistics for decision-making.

Recently Esri added a global land use/land cover map derived from Sentinel-2 imagery at 10m resolution and one can access weather and traffic data in near real-time. You can search content shared by the ArcGIS community and might find the rivers and lakes that you have been looking for.

Finding ArcGIS Living Atlas content

4.    Building and Using Apps

You might have worked with ArcGIS Pro or ArcMap, but ArcGIS Online comes with an impressive collection of ready-to-use apps that serve a multitude of use cases. Most apps are light-weight and geared towards a particular GIS role such as a field worker, a GIS developer, or a GIS manager.

Depending on who uses it and where it is being used, and can be classified under the following categories:

  • Field apps – these apps are used for navigation and exploration, field data collection, and management of a mobile workforce.
  • Office apps – these apps are used in the office for the management, analysis, and visualization of geospatial data.
  • Community apps – these apps are used to engage communities around geography through crowdsourced data collection and the dissemination of geo-information.
  • Developer apps – these apps are used by GIS developers to build custom web and mobile apps for end-users in support of their work.

ArcGIS Power Apps

The number of different apps could feel overwhelming so here are a few starting points:

  • Use Survey123, Field Maps or QuickCapture for field data collection. You could use Field Maps or QuickCapture to collect field-based assets and Survey123 to conduct a consumer survey.
  • Use Dashboards, ArcGIS for Power BI, or Insights to get insights from your data. Power BI is a good option if you need to integrate your GIS data with other business data. Dashboards and Insights offer similar functionality, but Dashboards is geared towards presentation while Insights has wider options for analysis and visualization.

5.    Data Management, Analysis and Visualization

As mentioned earlier, ArcGIS Online offers a complete GIS solution. Hence, it allows you to manage your GIS data, perform analysis and create compelling visualizations. ArcGIS Online has some exciting features that can’t be found in other ArcGIS products.

  • ArcGIS Online allows you to create a hosted feature layer from a template, an existing layer, or a URL endpoint. There are templates for a large variety of industries to get you started with your GIS projects in no time.

ArcGIS Feature Layer templates

  • The classic map viewer has an extensive perform analysis menu which can be used to perform various types of distance and overlay analysis. You can also aggregate and manage your data and find hotspots and outliers in your data.

Hot-spot analysis in ArcGIS Online

  • With the new map viewer. you can style your map layers with a variety of drawing styles. You can also add cartographic effects, interactive pop-ups, labels, and charts to come up with compelling visualizations that bring your data to life.

Mapping in ArcGIS Online

Way Forward

If you have access to ArcGIS Online start using it right away. In case you don’t have access, sign up for a free trial or contact us for getting back on ArcGIS maintenance.

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