In many industries, geographic data is central to much of the business processes. Sharing and real-time updating of GIS data is key for local governments, utilities and infrastructure organisations. The WebGIS phenomenon jumps on this need.

ArcGIS Online facilitates the WebGIS needs of its users using a very wide range of apps and extensions. This page contains frequently asked questions about WebGIS capabilities.

WebGIS: an introduction

What is WebGIS?

In the distant past, desktop was the standard for geographic information systems. Over the years, working in the cloud has become commonplace. Users of a WebGIS environment can access, edit and analyse data via a web browser without installing special software. This can be done on various devices, such as computers, smartphones and tablets.

What are the benefits of WebGIS-applications?

WebGIS offers a number of advantages over traditional desktop GIS applications:

  • Users can share data with each other in real time. This makes updating and maintaining geographical information easier.
  • Most WebGIS applications are more accessible and easier to use, making them usable even by colleagues with less prior knowledge of GIS.
  • WebGIS has support options from various cloud-based services, which allow you to leverage a large computing and storage capacity remotely. This can help keep both the complexity of the GIS infrastructure and the costs incurred manageable.

ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Pro?

How do I choose between ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro?

There are some general guidelines to determine whether it is best to use ArcGIS Online for your GIS project:

  • You need a GIS solution that is available to multiple users, regardless of their location.
  • You want to quickly and easily share maps with colleagues or other stakeholders.
  • In your project, it is vital that you always work with real-time data.
  • You work in a situation where the number of users of your GIS data or the amount of data changes regularly. To keep it scalable, a cloud-based solution is therefore necessary.
  • Cutting hardware and software costs is one of your team or organisation's goals.
  • You have little or no need for the heavy functionalities of ArcGIS Pro.

In addition, there are some situations where it is better to choose ArcGIS Pro:

  • You need very advanced geoprocessing features for your analysis.
  • You want to create complex map designs and layouts with the very comprehensive mapping tools available only in ArcGIS Pro.
  • There is no need in your project to share the data you manage with a large number of (internal or external) stakeholders.
Is it possible to work with large datasets in ArcGIS Online?

Yes, you can. However, there are a few points to consider when you want to work with large datasets in ArcGIS Online:

  • Use tile sets and vector tiles to display large datasets. These are pre-rendered map layers that can be quickly loaded and displayed in ArcGIS Online.
  • Use hosted feature layers to store and manage datasets in the cloud. This also improves performance in terms of speed. It is also easier to manage the data.
  • Think critically about the data you do and do not need. By generalising, simplifying or filtering data before using it in ArcGIS Online. If ArcGIS Online needs to load less data, it will benefit the performance of your map.

Even if you use the above tips, the total volume of your data may be too large. You will then still have to rely on ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise.

What are the benefits of working in the cloud with ArcGIS?

Working in the cloud with ArcGIS Online has a number of specific advantages:

  • Your GIS projects are available to users in different locations (and on different appartments).
  • Managing physical servers and IT infrastructure is not necessary when working in the cloud.
  • ArcGIS Online can automatically scale up and down when the number of users and/or the data volume used changes.
  • Individual users do not need to update their software. This happens automatically. Every user always works with the latest update.
  • Cloud providers offer comprehensive security and backup services. This reduces the risk of security breaches or data loss.
  • Data exchange between cloud services is usually easier than between desktop-based applications.

Using ArcGIS for mobile use

What opportunities does ArcGIS offer for asset management on location?

Geographical information and asset management cannot be separated in practice. To really add value, your GIS needs to contribute 'on the street'. ArcGIS offers a number of ways to make asset management more efficient for mobile devices:

  • Communication between field workers, planners and other stakeholders about assets is easier because everyone is working with data from the same source.
  • With ArcGIS, you can map and visualise the location and characteristics of various assets, such as street furniture, lighting, trees and traffic signs.
  • ArcGIS provides tools for capturing and updating asset information on site, including mobile applications that enable field workers to collect data in real-time and synchronise it with the central database.
  • ArcGIS makes it easier to plan and prioritise work on the street.
  • Progress and effectiveness of asset management can be monitored and reported quite extensively. This gives you more control over the progress and effect of work on the street.
What mobile applications does ArcGIS offer?

ArcGIS has a number of mobile applications that allow you to easily collect and process data in the field. We list some common examples for you:

  • ArcGIS FieldMaps was created to increase the efficiency of field operations. FieldMaps allows you to navigate to the location of a particular asset, use your GPS to update the exact location of an asset, synchronise data with the data on your device so you can use the data even in locations where there is no internet connection, and assign certain work to colleagues.
  • With the ArcGIS Survey123 App, you create digital surveys, which can be linked to location data and to linked tools. It is a very specific solution that is particularly useful when you want to efficiently test location-based questions with citizens, businesses or other stakeholders who have no background knowledge in the world of geographic information systems.
  • The ArcGIS QuickCapture App is especially designed for users who have little time on location to add data to your GIS. The App is designed so that you can quickly and easily add photos and notes to your existing GIS data.