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    Credit: Bartlett & West Engineers Inc.

    Annual GIS budget by population
    Not surprisingly, half of respondents feel their GIS budget is less than adequate. About 55% fund surveying and mapping efforts with general revenues, 3.3% use sales taxes, 11% use internal charges, and 21% use utility fees.

The subscription-based collaborative mapping platform provides a secure infrastructure for creating Web maps; enabling data for the Web; sharing maps, data, and applications; and managing organizational content. It also includes basemaps, configurable templates, and other tools that can be used to:

  • Find relevant public works GIS resources. More than 100,000 maps, data, and applications from organizations including the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Census, and local government and agencies.
  • Create and display maps without additional investment. The Arc-GIS Online website's built-in viewer includes a basemap gallery and the ability to search for and add data layers. When the data is mapped, a legend is automatically created and you can add pop-up windows, change symbols, and so on. After you add data from formats including Excel spreadsheets and Access databases from the sources mentioned above, the platform Web-enables it. Because data's hosted in Esri's cloud, additional servers aren't necessary.
  • Secure operational data. The Arc-GIS Online platform is customizable, so you set can set security options such as all-SSL. Make certain items public if you want them to be discoverable on the site and through popular search engines such as Google and Bing. Or hide certain items.
  • Web-enable operational data. Turn map tiles and features into Web-enabled layers that can be used anywhere without deploying new or additional software.
  • Share maps, data, and applications. Embed maps in your department or communitiy's website, publish hosted configurable Web applications, and collaborate in groups.
  • Brand your operation. Customize the website with your own URL and logo.

There are two ways to access Arc-GIS Online:

Anonymous. When you are not logged into the system, you can use publicly shared Web maps and applications, view and download existing data, and use tools that are embedded in applications such as the place finder built into the ArcGIS Online map viewer.

Subscription. An annual ArcGIS Online subscription gives your organization access to Esri's cloud to create hosted services from features and map tiles and gain unrestricted, commercial use of the application programming interfaces (APIs) applications, templates, and tools. Your organization also gets user administration tools, content management, and customization options.

In other words, for about the price of the average annual office supply budget, a public works department can purchase a subscription that provides:

  • Access to thousands of government maps without a login
  • Registration for a free login and the ability to create an unlimited number of basic maps from individual spreadsheets containing 1,000 work orders or less, and then publish them to your management, your co-workers, and even your citizens
  • The ability to create more advanced maps with analysis on spreadsheets containing an unlimited amount of work orders, and then publish them to your management, your co-workers, and even your citizens.

The most effective way to justify an annual budget request to the city council or board is to show them how much work you have. Like ArcGIS for Desktop or ArcGIS for Server, ArcGIS Online provides a comprehensive view of a department's workflow and project status that's instantly available for discussion, presentation, and analysis to management, co-workers, or local residents. If you're asked to cut further, you can ask them to point to the map where the work should be cut from.

— Totman (dtotman@esri.com) is public works industry manager for Esri in Redland, Calif., provider of the cloud-based ArcGIS Online asset-management tool. Visit www.arcgis.com.


A free 30-day trial of ArcGIS Online is available here.