Moving Past Conceptualizing – Creating the Small “Smart Community”


Esri often promotes the enhancements its applications can bring in, essentially making communities smarter. Promises of “data-driven decisions” seem worthwhile, especially when presented through big budget projects from large cities. However, proposing ideas for these implementations often fall short for smaller areas – the idea is there, but the initiative or financial backing may not be. For those willing to better their communities with a lack of direct investment from a larger government body, smaller systems can still aim to make a better-informed community.

Using ArcGIS Online to Develop Public Mapping Applications

Starting out with Esri’s software can be a daunting challenge, and investing the time and money to develop mapping applications can be a barrier.  Through ArcGIS Online’s public accounts however, it’s possible to develop geographic project introductions in a more cost effective way.

Getting a locale familiar with geographic data and related projects is often dependent on a small government’s ability to convey the necessity of it. Being able to portray why GIS can be a great benefit in the long term is a collaborative effort. Create a concrete plan of what the initial first projects will be – for smaller locales this can be as simple as forming a community watch program – and display the content in a visually appealing and accessible way.

Making GIS Data Understandable

Consider all individuals who may be interested in participating and make maps that are accessible to them, rather than building a wall of discouraging technical jargon. This would include the removal or configuration of attributes. While employees working hands on with this data may understand the specific notation that’s used, the public may not be able to understand attribute information that uses shortcodes or other types of unintelligible data formats.

Example of hard to understand attribute descriptions.

Example of hard to understand attribute descriptions.

Using Open Data Sites to Make GIS Data Publicly Available

Open data sites are often equally imperative to publicly display the effort involved in creating data sets, showing exactly how geographic systems can benefit, and improve understanding of a variety of worthwhile topics. In short, public data can be an equalizer and serve a common ground between a populace and its local government.

For those looking for initial project ideas, view Esri’s Smart Communities page here.



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