“Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach someone to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.”
In 2015, shortly after ArcGIS Online was first released, my colleague Paul Synnott wrote an article about when Desktop Software is more than just Desktop Software. In this article he discussed that when you invest in ArcGIS Desktop, you get much more than just a desktop software package.
Instead of slowing, this trend has continued at pace, and I’ve been reflecting on what you can achieve with one single ArcGIS Desktop license. In this scenario and to paint the picture of the possibilities I have imagined that I am the owner of a small ecological consultancy firm.
In case it’s news, when a customer purchases a subscription to ArcGIS Pro we include an entitlement for an ArcGIS Online “Creator” user with each license. Of course, ArcGIS Pro is an extremely powerful Desktop GIS, however it is the access to ArcGIS Online it opens new opportunities.
Figure 1 - ArcGIS Online enables you to connect people, locations and data using interactive maps
So back to my scenario - As an expert ecological consultant, I pay the bills by typically undertaking environment, appropriate and ecologic impact assessments, habitat and animal surveys and habitat classification and assessments (to name a few) on behalf of my customers. I cannot function without understanding the influence and impact of location, place and geography and to that I need a GIS.
So how can the capabilities available through ArcGIS Desktop support my new organisation?
Well here are several ways:
Fundamentally I need to do my day job and a core part of it is to undertake map based analysis to visualise and analyse my sites and the environment. This is a core capability of any GIS and one of the reasons for my decisions to invest in ArcGIS so I expect it can do the job for me. And it does.
Figure 2 - Bring your data into a powerful system that geoenables, hosts and scales
Once upon a User Conference, David Hansen, COO at Geo Jobe stated, “ArcGIS Online is the largest global repository of geospatial information in the history of the species.”
I can’t do my day job without data, I need to understand the context of the environment I am working in. Without having to look elsewhere, directly within my ArcGIS account I have access to the Living Atlas of the World. This atlas provides me with access to high quality, authoritative and relevant data that I can use to do my job.
Figure 3 - ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is the foremost collection of geographic information from around the globe. It includes maps, apps and data layers to support your work.
In addition to global data, I can directly access a wide range of authoritative and open datasets published by Irish Government sources. This includes data from environment, heritage and planning. I can use the GeoHive platform from Ordnance Survey Ireland to understand what is available to use and add to my ArcGIS Account and use in analysis (and I don’t need to download any of it).
3. Mobile Field Operations
I spend many days in the field capturing new information, doing inspections taking photos and undertaking assessments. This is where access to the ArcGIS Online subscription starts to really make my life easier. I can access my data and apps anywhere anytime.
As a user in ArcGIS Online I now have access to a suite of mobile applications that enable me to take my data with me into the field. I don’t need to invest in any additional technology and can use these apps on my smart phone. I can undertake surveys and assessments using Survey123 or capture more complex spatial data using Collector for ArcGIS. As a peer company, I was inspired by the work undertaken by the Wetlands Survey and the Pearl Mussel Project.
Figure 4 - You can use Survey123 to quickly create powerful surveys across desktop, web and mobile
4. Reporting and Monitoring
I need to monitor progress of my work, on a daily weekly or monthly basis and understand how things have changed overtime. I have lots of options, but I decide to configure a series of ArcGIS Operations Dashboards to create interactive data visualisations on a single screen and can now visualise trends, monitor status in real time, and undertake action as required.
Figure 5 - ArcGIS Dashboards provides information for at-a-glance decision-making
5. Collaboration with my Customers
Did you know there are several million registered users on ArcGIS Online? In fact, many of my customers already use ArcGIS. This means I can share data, maps and apps from my ArcGIS Online Organisation with others. This is a great way to provide real time access to progress on activities, it provides a great service to my customers and save lots of time. My stakeholders can self-service reports anytime they wish. This removes the need to download and upload data. Esri's Kelly Gerrow-Wilcox describes how to set this up here.
ArcGIS is more than just maps. Did you know that you can practically build your entire company website using ArcGIS Online? If you didn’t then you are not alone, many people are unaware of the breath of apps and what you can do with them, how low cost they are and relatively quick to stand up. With ArcGIS Online I can use ArcGIS Hub to configure a website to promote my work and place for my new and existing customers to understand what I can do. At Esri Ireland, we use ArcGIS Hub to showcase our customer’s work and to inform people of the powerful capabilities of ArcGIS.
Figure 6 - ArcGIS Hub allows you to transform how you engage and collaborate with your community
All this can be done with a single user ArcGIS Desktop Subscription. For an ever-growing list of customers ArcGIS is not just another software package, it is one of, if not the most business critical technology platform they use.
So if you do find yourself comparing GIS software products always be sure that you are comparing apples with apples, with respect to the capabilities provided.
Dermot O' Kane
Dermot is the Head of Sales at Esri Ireland. He is highly motivated and passionate about the benefits that location technology offers and how ArcGIS can be used to help businesses gain a competitive advantage. Dermot has worked in GIS for over 15 years and during this time he has helped countless organisations to understand the incredible value of adopting a GI centric approach to business.