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Implementing ArcGIS

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My new book, Getting to Know Web GIS 3rd edition, has recently published.


In the book, I teach about Web GIS technologies as a holistic platform, and try to help you quickly become productive with Esri’s Web GIS platform. If you need a workbook to stay on top of the latest Web GIS technologies, this is for you.


 The book provides clear, step-by-step instructions on how to share resources to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise, create engaging 2D and 3D information products that work in web browsers and on mobile devices, design smart maps, and perform analysis online.


The first two editions made this book a bestseller and a preeminent book on Web GIS. The third edition builds on that success to match newer releases of ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise, with the following updates:

  • A new chapter on image services and raster analysis
  • Separate chapters on mobile GIS and real-time GIS, with a more extensive experience on each
  • Tutorials migrated from ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro, the new and more powerful tool for processing and publishing GIS resources
  • A new 3D chapter showing how to create beautiful 3D scenes easily with only a browser.
  • New frontiers such as big data analysis, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities, virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.
  • New products such as ArcGIS Arcade, Survey123 for ArcGIS, Workforce for ArcGIS, Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, ArcGIS GeoAnalytics Server, and ArcGIS Image Server


The book provides accompanying lab data and instructors PPT slides that can be downloaded at Both eBook and print versions are available through Amazon. . 


I hope my book sparks your imagination and encourages creatives uses of Web GIS!


Here is the table of contents of the book.


Deciding when you are ready to upgrade and implement the latest version of ArcGIS can be a daunting task. One thing I really enjoy doing each year at UC is talking to users about how to get ready to upgrade and modernize their GIS. If you’re interested in talking to an Esri expert about moving to 10.6 come by the Implementing ArcGIS area in the expo and ask about our ArcGIS 10.6 Readiness Assessment. It’s a quick survey you can take that will provide some recommendations and suggestions on steps you can take to make yourself ready to implement 10.6.

Geodata engineering is focused on making your data work for your mission. Did you know that The Living Atlas is a way for you to use authoritative information others have created, including official data sources such as the US Census, NOAA, and USGS?  The experts in Esri's Geodata Services support the production of The Living Atlas imagery and community maps content, and can help you improve the quality of your data, too.  To learn more about the work behind The Living Atlas, see this article in XYHT, and meet members of #Geodata and Living Atlas at #EsriUC2018. 

I'll be moderating a User Paper Session, Session 2250: "Your Decisions are Only as Good as Your Data", on Wed, Jul 11 - 8:30am - 9:30am  SDCC - Room 29 B. 


We'll have two interesting papers presented by BLM and San Jose Water. Nick Hall and Jason Frels of the BLM National Operations Center in Denver Colorado, will discuss the continued maturation of BLM's Data Quality and the Enterprise (eGIS) System. Mary McMahon of San Jose Water California will discuss how the Esri Water Utility Tools are used to improve their data quality checks workflows. I hope to see you there!



It really was my pleasure working with Cliff Sullivan and Mark Dickman at SACWD.  These two guys really knew how to make finding errors fun. With their positive attitudes and get-it-done mentality, they quickly gained a good grasp of using the data QC extension, ArcGIS Data Reviewer.


Look where their success got them featured – in the latest issue of ArcNews! 


If you are interested in a quick review of Data Reviewer reviewing your data, schedule a Data Health Check at this year's UC,

This post was originally published on LinkedIn, June 22, 2016.


As the 2018 Esri International User Conference approaches, I have been thinking about the essence of what makes an enterprise GIS successful and offer these thoughts...

A successful GIS implementation requires more than just technology.  Whether or not a GIS is successful, largely depends upon motivated people that are committed to managing change, and effectively applying the technology in a sustainable manner, while following best practices.  An assistant City Manager once told me, "...whether or not our GIS implementation is successful is not a technology problem, it's a people problem..."

Two of the key elements of a successful GIS are vision and leadership – if you are a GIS Manager, you need to be more than just a manager, you need to be a leader in your organization.  You need to awaken your organization, and the public, to the capabilities and benefits of the use of GIS.  This means you need to market the benefits of GIS to colleagues and the public.  Let them know that GIS can do more than make maps, that it can be used easily by anyone, and that spatial analysis can provide insight that is not accessible with any other technology.  This critical insight can help anyone make better decisions, be more efficient, and therefore, save money and time.

In order to realize this vision of a location platform successfully supporting your organization’s business, you need to understand how GIS can contribute to your organization’s success.  Talk to leaders in your organization, understand what their vision is, and what their problems are.  Then deploy sustainable GIS solutions that directly align with their vision, and help solve their problems.  Provide these leaders with solutions they can use themselves to run their business – solutions like web-enabled, operational dashboards.  By making executives GIS users, they will directly understand the value of GIS, and it will elevate your standing in the organization, as well as your GIS, to a mission-critical, enterprise business system.

A successful GIS also needs a living strategic plan.  No enterprise IT system can be successful without an effective strategic plan.  This plan need not be a voluminous document that takes a huge effort to create, and then sits on a shelf.  It can be as simple as a matrix showing which GIS capabilities have been deployed to which departments.  This would then identify what areas are targets for GIS expansion.  Then simply prioritize those, and through phases implement the appropriate solutions to meet their needs.  The key is that the plan is constantly being updated, so it stays relevant and effective.  This plan should align with the IT strategic plan, as well as the overall organizational strategic plan.

Effective governance is another key to a successful GIS.  This means that you must have an organizational structure that allows GIS to be as effective as possible.  You do not want process to get in the way of progress.  There are options for how to effectively implement and govern a GIS, that can be successful, depending on the organization.  One key is that there must be executive sponsorship for GIS.  There should also be a GIS Steering Committee, made up of executives that can make business decisions related to GIS.  This would include decisions on whether or not a GIS solution should be developed using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology, or a custom solution developed by authoring code.  This Steering Committee should also prioritize the GIS projects based on their value to the organization.  This frees up the GIS professionals to do their work in a manner that is sustainable and best aligned with the organization’s mission.

As ArcGIS has evolved, so too does your approach to how the technology is implemented.  Technology is changing faster and faster, therefore to keep up with that change, you must take advantage of it by implementing evolutionary approaches, or change management.  Embrace the change, make it part of your daily work – if you do not consciously commit time to change management, you will not affect any change.  You need to do this by participating in ArcGIS beta programs.  Use an annual subscription to the ArcGIS Developer Program to allow you to constantly try out all of our products to see how they are applicable to your work.  Investigate the new capabilities of the latest versions of ArcGIS, and make, and execute, plans to utilize them.  Change is tough, but it cannot be ignored and the effective and constant management of change, is a foundational piece of any successful organization.

If your ArcGIS implementation is to be successful, the apps that people use must be engaging.  With the widespread acceptance in our personal lives of smart mobile devices, like phones and tablets, and their app ecosystems, the expectations of end users have permanently changed.  No longer are people willing to read a manual or take a class to learn how to use an app.  No longer can GIS apps look like desktop, with layers to turn on and off, and toolbars full of many tools to choose from.  Apps need to be focused, intuitive, and work on any device, anywhere at any time.  With the spread of smart mobile devices, work takes place wherever and whenever the worker decides, so your GIS apps need to be there with them, ready to work for them.  They need to be as easy-to-use as any other app on their devices.  The goal is to give everyone alternatives, but keep them in a known, controlled and secure environment, while using the latest and most authoritative data and processes.  ArcGIS includes a suite of apps that can easily be deployed without writing code. Become familiar with them and see which ones apply to your organization's workflows.  

The last key facet of a successful GIS implementation is good people.  With GIS being a technological field that is rapidly changing, it is critical the GIS professionals get annual training to keep up with the changes.  Maintain a living workforce development plan that creates an educational pathway for the GIS users in your organization that is based on their responsibilities.  Additionally, a GIS Manager, needs more than technological skills – they need business management skills, as well as IT skills.  As a GIS Manager, you need to market and sell your team’s capabilities to the leaders of your organization.  You also need to develop and maintain a business plan and change management plan as part of the GIS Strategic Plan.  These are skills that need to be acquired to be successful.  You also need to learn how to run an enterprise IT system including the implementation of service level agreements, system architecture design, enterprise system integration, security, project management, etc.  It is important to realize that no GIS is successful through solely internal resources.  Implementing and maintaining an effective enterprise GIS requires outside assistance, so plan for getting assistance from Esri and/or our partners.  Assistance from external, experienced professionals will increase the likelihood of success, minimize risk, as well as reduce the project timeline.

Esri offers many resources to our customers to help make them successful - please take advantage of them.  Here are some that come to mind:


Strategy at UC

Posted by asokol-esristaff Employee Jun 30, 2018

One of my favorite things to talk to customers who come to UC about is their strategy, figuring out how they approach GIS in their organization. UC is a great time to learn about new technology, new patterns, new ways to make an impact on your organization, but it's easy to get lost in a sea of ideas and information. How do you decide where to start? What's the priority next step? Why is it the priority? What does success look like? How will you get other members of your organization excited about changes that might be coming? 


If this is something you want to discuss further at UC, there are many great resources. One great place to start is the Implementing ArcGIS area in the expo. You can sign up for activities related to strategy and planning, talk to experts, and ask questions. If you're not sure what all this means, go to a session that is focused on strategy and planning methodology. 


UC is a great time to think about what's next, and how to maximize business impact with GIS. 

I just returned from a trip to Tucson Water where I helped Terri Bunting (GIS Supervisor) and Lorena Baltierrez (QA/QC Lead) implement ArcGIS Data Reviewer as part of their daily editing and quality control workflows.  This was probably one of the most successful business trips I've made during my 25+ years at Esri.


It all started out with a quick Data Health Check that I conducted on their water utility data a couple of years ago at the Esri UC. I used the ArcGIS Data Reviewer extension to configure several data checks and validated their water data.  As with most utility users whose data is in geometric network, I found the typical errors: duplicate features, disconnected lines and points, and required fields not being populated. These type of data issues affect any network tracing results and the connection back to any 3rd party applications, like an asset management system.


After completing the data health check, Terri and Lorena were excited to take the recommendations I provided and implement Data Reviewer when they got back to the office. Their feedback regarding the session was, “This is a great addition to the user conference, thank you!”


After a couple of false starts due to existing staff workloads and not having extra time to ramp up and implement Data Reviewer, this year they looked into doing a 3-day Data Reviewer jumpstart workshop. How lucky was I that I got assigned to do this jumpstart with them?! Terri and Lorena were very excited too!


While onsite, I helped them configure the quality control checks that were appropriate for their data. One of the main goals for their GIS system is to be able to perform valve isolation tracing on their water utility data by the end of the year.  To achieve this goal, we prioritized the data checks that focused on feature connectivity.


What helped me most during this whole process was how well organized and prepared they were by providing a data editing guidelines document.  We went through the specifications to identify checks that needed to be created.  By doing so, we also found areas where their editing guidelines needed to be updated.  Besides doing QC on their data, they got the added bonus of QC’ing their guidelines too! In fact, Terri shared that Lorena is already teaching others how to include the new functionality to their editing workflows and feels their editors are confident in using Data Reviewer right away!


Not only was the implementation successful, these two wonderful ladies were also so very hospitable and really appreciative of my visit.  They made my job enjoyable and I felt like we bonded instantly which made my trip so great. I am excited and I can’t wait to hear about their progress as they begin utilizing the tools effectively to clean up their entire water data.


We, at Esri, strive hard to enable our customers to successfully implement and efficiently use their GIS. That’s why we are offering complimentary Data Health Checks at the upcoming 2018 Esri UC. Watch this video of me inviting you to sign up for a session.



Michelle Johnson

GIS Data QA Lead, Geodata Services

This post was originally published on LinkedIn, April 9, 2018.

So I'm in New York City, NY recently with my family, and of course my kids, who are huge fans of video games, add the Nintendo World Store in NYC to our "must see" list during our visit. We stopped by and had a lot of fun touring the entire museum/store, and stocking up on goodies to take home. While we were there, I couldn't help noticing all of these Nintendo seals around the store, at the bottom of these seals are the words, "EST. 1889".

This really intrigued me. How can it be that Nintendo, one of the world's largest video game companies, was 129 years old?!? I turned to Wikipedia for the answer. Sure enough, Nintendo was founded as a playing card company on September 23, 1889, by Fusajiro Yamauchi. I had no idea it was that old; it's founding had predated electronic computers by almost 60 years. I was astonished that such a well-known, high-tech company, had such historic and modest roots.

This reminded me of one of my favorite informative items from Gartner, an American research and advisory firm providing information technology related insight for IT and other business leaders located across the world. It is a photo of a slide from one of their events, showing the results of an innovation survey; it states,

"The biggest threat to innovation is internal politics and an organizational culture, which doesn't accept failure and/or doesn't accept ideas from outside, and/or cannot change."

That statement is so true. Too many organizations are not innovative, due to these exact issues. When there is a lack of innovation, organizations stagnate and fall behind, and often do not get the return on investment for the technology they have already invested in. If they are private entities, they usually fail, because they cannot compete. If they are public entities, they are rendered ineffective and waste money. The cure to this is change management. Change is inevitable, but also not easy. We cannot ignore change. We must embrace it, part of that is accepting failure.

If you read the history section of the Nintendo Wikipedia entry, you will see that like many successful companies, not all of their endeavors are a success - these include a taxi company, a love hotel chain, a TV network, and a food company. Not all of their electronic gaming products have been huge successes, either. But the reason they are one of the leaders in this incredibly competitive industry, is because they are innovative - and part of that is accepting failure, accepting ideas from the outside, and changing.

So I put this challenge out there to all GIS practitioners: your job is to be innovative, so please do everything you can to make that happen. The people that are funding your work (shareholders, if you work for a private company - taxpayers, if you work for a government agency - donors, if you work for a non-profit) deserve a good return on their investment in you - that means you have got to use all of the capabilities you have available to you, and you have got to keep the technology current - it is the crux of your job. You have got to make it a priority and dedicate time for it.

Don't believe that one person cannot make a difference in an organization, there are many examples to prove otherwise, this being a great one: Accelerating Small-Town Services on a Small-Town Budget. Change management and innovation take time and resources, please invest in them. There's a difference between being a manager and a leader, you have a great opportunity to lead, please make the most of it. You have access to powerful technology that can make a difference in your organization, your community, and your life. As Denzel Washington so eloquently put it, "Don't just aspire to make a living. Aspire to make a difference."

Some ideas on where to start:

Learn the basics of Change Management. Here are some excellent resources: GovLoop, Harvard Business Review, McKinsey & Company, Kotter International, Prosci

Seek to be influential. Here are Three Differences Between a Manager and a Leader.

Communicate with, not to, your leaders. Seek them out. Learn their pain and their vision. Then propose solutions that alleviate their pain, and support their vision. They will become your supporters.

Get some help. Reach out to the GIS community, they are a powerful force.

Thanks to Michael Green and David Schneider for peer review of this post.

The Esri User Conference presents a unique opportunity for professionals of all domains to collaborate and learn about the power of leveraging The Science of Where™ in their organization. This year’s theme, “GIS, Inspiring What’s Next” gets to the heart of how GIS can transform organizations. 


Organizations of all types are seeking out new ways to leverage GIS to improve mission execution, achieve business goals, and provide new insights. GIS has shifted from a siloed technology to being cross-cutting, touching business units across the entire enterprise.


This shift presents challenges for GIS leaders, managers, and IT professionals. Introducing new technologies has a direct impact on an organization’s people. Inspiring your workforce to change and embrace new technology-enabled workflows requires a strategic, collaborative approach.

Change management is a formalized approach to analyzing the workforce impact of integrating new technologies into workflows and planning accordingly. The planning process accounts for

  • Sponsorship
  • Communications
  • Resistance management
  • Training and workforce development


Integrating people=focused change management activities into your GIS technology implementation plans helps to

  • Provide seamless integration of people-oriented support into your technology project plans.
  • Increase in adoption rates.
  • Earn executive sponsorship support.
  • Shorten your implementation cycles.


Several conference sessions are available to help you start thinking about change management:

Implementing ArcGIS Track

GIS Manager Track

If you cannot make it to the sessions or you would like to spend time elaborating on the concepts and knowledge gained in the two sessions, stop by the Implementing ArcGIS area in the Expo. Talk with us about

  • Your organization’s change readiness.
  • The risk and impacts of change.
  • Strategies to increase technology adoption across your team, department, or organization.

Whether you are introducing GIS to a few key individuals or you are preparing for an enterprise GIS implementation, there are many opportunities to learn how to integrate people-oriented change management principles into your strategy at this year’s User Conference.

Esri's expert Training Consultant will help you identify the proper courses that will help you reach your goals.  They will work with you to implement a plan for an individual, depart or project and even an enterprise wide Workforce Development Plan.  They have the tools, resources and expertise to help make you ArcGIS implementation a success.

As part of your organization's operational support strategy I recommend checking out ArcGIS Monitor. This new Esri product is key to optimizing your enterprise GIS and getting the most from your GIS and IT investment. The User Conference is only a couple weeks away and is a great opportunity for you to learn more about it. We look forward to seeing you there!

If you are headed to the 2018 Esri User Conference, and need some guidance in creating your personal agenda, and you are a current, or future, GIS Manager, check out this flier that lists some recommended activities.  They include the GIS Managers' Open Summit and the GIS Manager Track.


GIS Manager Events and Activities UC 2018 Flier 

If you are headed to the 2018 Esri User Conference, and want to hear from experts and peers on planning strategies for a successful enterprise GIS, please consider attending the GIS Managers' Open Summit on Tuesday, July 10th.  Here is a link to a GeoNet blog post that provides more information, and includes a link to the registrations site.  Registration is free, but since we have limited space, we require attendees to register.  Hope to see you there!


Esri User Conference Behind-the-Scenes: GIS Managers' Open Summit 

If you maintain any of the of following datasets, you should take advantage of the GIS Data Health Check activity at the 2018 Esri User Conference!

  • Water, wastewater, sewer, or stormwater
  • Electric or gas
  • Roads and highways
  • Utility pipelines
  • Land records or addressing
  • 3D data


Meet with me or one of my esteemed colleagues who will sit with you to review a sample of your data, explain the types of issues to look for, and what errors you may have in your data.  Find out more here


Be sure to make your reservation as soon as you can; appointments fill up fast!  To reserve your spot, go here.  


See you at the UC!

Michelle Johnson

GIS Data QA Lead, Geodata Services