Local Government GIS in an “App for That” World

There is a paradigm shift that has already begun in our industry—a shift that can be traced back to the broader mobile technology field and the invention of Apple’s iPhone and their App Store’s “App for That” concept. The iPhone does not have one app with 500,000 features or functions, rather has access to over 500,000 apps that do 1-2 focused tasks. Furthermore, technology trends tell us that mobile is exploding and that we are just starting to scratch the surface. According to Gartner, the sales of mobile devices surpassed PC sales for the first time in 2011—something that wasn’t forecasted until 2013. Global Internet users will literally double over the next few years, but perhaps most interesting is that by 2015 most users (approximately 80%) will be accessing the Internet via a mobile device.  This is clearly a deployment platform that we all need to be planning for and gearing up to support.

Esri is keenly aware of these trends and has created two cost effective and closely related initiatives to support the growing demand, and what will be, the consumer expectation for targeted, focused maps and apps accessible from their mobile devices. Esri’s ArcGIS for Local Government and ArcGIS Online are cost effective initiatives aimed specifically to support local governments in this mobile, “app for that” world.

ArcGIS for Local Government includes a series of targeted, focused maps and apps built on a common information model that is designed to work together across various departments. The concept is “plug and play” for any of the Esri web, mobile, and desktop templates (apps) and the keys to all of this is adopting the local government information model.

ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based, collaborative content management system for maps, apps, data, and other geographic information. It is not a replacement for on-premise GIS implementations, rather works complimentary offering organizations an efficient way to disseminate information across their organization and optionally, to the public. ArcGIS Online has been designed so the maps run on all devices and the apps can be easily configured to support the following environments, iOS, (iPad and iPhone), the android devices, as well as Windows (phone, mobile and desktop). This presents a vast number of deployment strategies aimed to support the ever present and growing demand for mobile.

The paradigm shift is already happening. We see it today in our industry with Esri’s Resource Center and “ArcGIS for…” concept. The days of traditional GIS web viewers that deliver ArcMap on the web will quickly become an artifact of the past. Soon our products and offerings in GIS will be required to support mobile accessibility and designed to solve targeted, focused tasks that make all of our cities and counties operate more efficiently.

This speaks to why we, at GISi, are “all in” on these Esri initiatives where we started as a pilot partner for ArcGIS for Local Government over a year ago and have evolved into one of a few Esri partners that have been designated, by Esri, with the ArcGIS for Local Government partner specialty. Over the last year we have helped over a dozen local governments with implementation and have positioned them to leverage this new paradigm. From our perspective, the time is now to get on board and learn how these initiatives can complement your offerings.