ArcGIS Online – The Geospatial Content Management System

by Matt Ball on January 6, 2012

Bernie Szukalski, product strategist and technical evangelist at Esri, spoke today at the GeoDesign Summit about ArcGIS Online initiatives and coming capabilities. Web mapping has morphed from sharing maps and geospatial information to a geospatial content management system that supports collaboration. The new iteration allows for the publication and sharing with others, as well as the access to rich global base data through cloud services. And for GeoDesign applications it greatly speeds the creation of project-based details, with the added benefit of a means to communicate different perspectives via shared maps.

The move from online maps to intelligent maps is a significant distinction  for this evolution. Intelligent maps provide the means to present information in customized and interesting ways, with the ability to augment the map with pie charts and other means of presentation. Intelligent maps also provide time-enabled features to explore changes over time.

The ease to make and share maps, with global data provided, and templates guiding map design, is a game changer. The templates used to upload the information provides a standard look and feel that can be tweaked and customized. You can adjust transparency to prioritize what people see, and can configure pop-ups with attribute information. You can change the icon size and look, and can chance colors and other template parameter . For further tweaking, you can even download the source code.

Maps can be shared with others by making them publicly available, sharing a link or embedding in a website or blog. Additional content can be found via the gallery where maps are vetted by the community, with ratings and comments. These maps contain documentation with details regarding the source, providing metadata that allows you to understand how they were created. There is also flexibility in how these intelligent maps can be accessed, with options to open in your desktop, open in Explorer Online, and in the map viewer.

A new capability that is in beta right now is a subscription service that provides the ability to customize web mapping portals of your own without having to install ArcGIS Server. The hosted web mapping in the cloud, means you don’t have to worry about communicating with your IT department or configuring the server. The server does checking and normalizes the data based on the parameters that you’ve set.

This new pattern for serving GIS broadly expands the market opportunity, making it easier than ever to find existing data, and customizing the presentation of that data to communicate your objectives via maps.

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