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Check out this outstanding StoryMap from the award-winning LINKGIS NKYmapLAB crew - it provides the blueprint for success for enterprise GIS in local government. 


Louis Hill

Organizations are serving a broader and more geographically disperse audience than ever before.  Organizations that have a global reach may experience latency when trying to load content across the globe.  Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) use edge servers to deliver content closer to the client application that requested it.  Instead of a client application in Europe accessing a server in Northern California, content can be delivered from edge servers in Europe.  CDN Settings allow us to control how often the edge servers return to the origin in Northern California to fetch updated content.  The benefit here is twofold, less performance hit on the origin server and less latency for the end users.   


ArcGIS Enterprise can take advantage of CDNs to push static files to edge locations. In this example, we use Amazon's CDN Service (CloudFront) to distribute static ArcGIS Enterprise files across the globe, allowing for quicker load times and less load on the back-end server.  This blog details: content and its corresponding context path that are candidates for edge caching, a walk-through of how to use AWS CloudFront in front of ArcGIS Enterprise, and some additional considerations when using a CDN.


The first user in a particular edge server region always gets a request delivered directly from the origin.  Subsequent users in that same region are then served content from the edge cache.  Requests continue to be delivered from the edge servers until the configured Time To Live (TTL) is met.  


More information on Amazon CloudFront: 

Content Delivery Network (CDN) | Low Latency, High Transfer Speeds, Video Streaming | Amazon CloudFront 



ArcGIS Enterprise Content: 


Secure Content

ArcGIS Enterprise inherently supports secure content which requires a token to access.  This content is not a good candidate for caching, as it changes frequently and each user obtains a different token.  This will make all requests forward to the origin instead of being served from the edge cache. 


Dynamic Content

ArcGIS Enterprise servers a mix of dynamic and static content.  When adding a CDN in front of ArcGIS Enterprise it is important to understand the different type of content that should be cached.  If we cache content that is meant to be dynamic, errors may occur in your applications.  Below you can find a breakdown of the context paths and the associated content for both Portal for ArcGIS and ArcGIS Server.


Static Content:

ArcGIS Enterprise also serves a significant amount of static content, such as: CSS, JavaScript, HTML files, and images. This content changes infrequently and is generally a good candidate for edge caching.  Below you can find some examples of static content that are good candidates for an edge server and dynamic content, but that is not ideal for edge caching. 



Portal for ArcGIS
Static Content (context path)Dynamic Content (context path)
Portal JS Files (portal/home/10.7.1/*)Sharing API (portal/sharing/*)
Portal HTML Files (portal/*.html)Portal Admin (portal/portaladmin/*)
Portal JavaScript API (portal/jsapi/*)
Portal Image Files (portal/home/images/*)

* The above examples all use a Web Adaptor name "portal".  If you named your web adaptor something different, replace the "portal" with you web adaptor name

* The JavaScript API will have to be updated depending on what version of ArcGIS Enterprise you are using


ArcGIS Server
Static ContentDynamic Content
Tiled Services (server/rest/services/<Service Name>/MapServer/tile/*)Sharing API (server/sharing/*)
Select Queries from Map Services *

* The above examples all use a Web Adaptor name "server".  If you named your web adaptor something different, replace the "server" with you web adaptor name


Using CloudFront as your CDN with ArcGIS Enterprise:

There are three steps to deploying your ArcGIS Enterprise with CloudFront.  The first step is creating the distribution and specifying what the default behavior for the cache is.  This step is critical, as it allows dynamic content to pass thru the edge servers and onto the origin.  The second step is adding additional cache behaviors.  This step provides the ability to cache specific path patterns from the distribution.  The final step is to map the existing DNS Record Set to the CloudFront distribution CNAME. 


  1. Add Cache behaviors to the above created distribution
  2. Create a CloudFront Distribution:
    1. From your AWS Console navigate to the CloudFront service under the "Networking & Content Delivery" section.
    2. Select "Create Distribution" to enter the CloudFront deployment wizard. 
    3. Select "Get Started" under the Web at the "Select a Delivery Method" page.
    4. Populate the Origin Settings with the following information: (Amazon Documentation on Origin Settings)

      Note: The Origin Domain Name will be the Load Balancer or Server that your ArcGIS Enterprise is accessible from.  In this example we use the an Application Load Balancer but other properties are supported here as well.  CloudFront will forward requests to this location when populating it's edge cache.  



      Ensure the default behavior of Cache Based on Selected Request Headers is set to None to support portal's Dynamic Content.

      Note:  Ensure Object Caching is set to Use Origin Cache Headers.  Portal will send a response header with Cache-Control: no-cache by default.  CloudFront has the ability to override this.   Additional cache behaviors will be added in the next steps to overwrite this and allow static content to be cached.  Note: Ensure you add your DNS to the "Alternate Domain Names".  This comes into play when you map your DNS Records Set to the CloudFront Domain Name.
  3. Find your distribution ID from the CloudFront homepage
  4. Navigate to the "Behaviors" tab
  5. Select "Create Behavior"
  6. Populate the behavior with the following

    Note:  The path pattern determines what paths to apply this behavior.  This option allows us to cache content. 
    Note: Unlike the initial deployment ensure you chose the "Customize" option for "Object Caching".  This allows you to specify a default, minimum, and maximum amount of time (in seconds) your object will live in its edge location. You can see mine are set to 86400 (1 day).
  7. Repeat this step for the following "Path Patterns"Note: The path patterns are related to the table in the "ArcGIS Enterprise Content" Section above.  You will notice the path pattern for a tiled map service there as well. 
    Note: After an upgrade the path pattern for "portal/home/10.6.1" will have to be updated for the specific version of ArcGIS Enterprise you are using.

      3. Point your DNS records to the CloudFront CNAME


  • These steps come after you have completed the installation and configuration of your ArcGIS Enterprise deployment
  •  Ensure that the CloudFront cache is invalidated after an upgrade
  • Please review the pricing model for Amazon’s CloudFront CDN:

This is a continuation of The Path from GIS Manager to GIS Leader - Part 2.


It is time to bring this all Part 1 of The Path from GIS Manager to GIS Leader, I mentioned how rebranding can help you change your image from mapmaker to enterprise IT solution provider.  This rebranding can be applied to two areas, job titles and department names.  Here are some real example job titles from GIS practitioners that have rebranded:

  • Content Delivery Manager - Charlotte, NC Water Department
  • Decision Analytics Manager - Charlotte, NC Department of Innovation & Technology
  • Geospatial Intelligence Manager - US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
  • GeoAnalytics Information Officer - Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
  • Geographic Information Officer - there are many examples of this one, especially at the state government level
  • Director of Enterprise Location Intelligence - Walgreens
  • Business & Location Intelligence Manager - DCSI South Australia
  • Business & Location Innovative Services Supervisor - Cabarrus Co., NC


The ultimate accomplishment of all of this is to create a new strategic executive position that is above the GIS Manager and reports to a top executive. This is key, as guiding the strategic direction of enterprise GIS to enable location intelligence across the organization is a full-time job. The GIS Manager position should focus on the operations, managing the GIS staff and projects. While this goal of creating this new executive position may seem impossible, there is evidence to the contrary. If executives see value and potential for more value in technology, they can, and will, create new full-time executive positions to lead these critical initiatives.


When enterprise technology was first implemented at most organizations, the first step was to create something like a Chief Technology Officer (CTO).  As enterprise technology expanded, and with it, the value it provided to the organization, additional positions are being created, like Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), Chief Data Officer (CDO), and Chief Analytics Officer (CAO).  If the lead executive can understand the full potential and value of Location Intelligence and GIS, they will create a Chief Geospatial Officer (CGO).  If this is not possible in your organization, it is possible to move up above the GIS Manager position to gain increased access and ability to affect change and expand the use of GIS. Here are more than thirty real examples of GIS practitioners that have done this from across the US, Canada, and Australia:

  • Mark Wheeler - CIO, Philadelphia, PA
  • Tim Oliver - CIO, Horry Co., SC
  • Todd Shanley - CIO, Cabarrus Co., NC
  • Tim Dupuis - CIO & Registrar of Voters, Alameda Co., CA
  • Tracy McKee - Chief Innovation Officer, Charleston, SC
  • Tessa Allberg - CTO, Grapevine, TX
  • Barney Krucoff - CDO, Washington, DC
  • Mark Greninger - CDO, Los Angeles Co., CA
  • Nick O'Day - CDO, Johns Creek, GA
  • Patrick Baber - CDO, Roswell, GA
  • Hank Garie - CDO/GIO, Philadelphia, PA
  • Bryan Zumwalt - Director Office of IT & Innovation, Pinellas Co., FL
  • Wade Kloos - Director Enterprise Systems, Utah DNR
  • Ryan Fernandes - Director of IT Services, Weston, FL
  • Brad Phillips - IT Director, Decatur, AL
  • Justin Cure - Information Services Manager, Longview, TX
  • Paul Giroux - Innovation, Business & Location Intelligence Officer, Greater Sudbury Utilities, Ontario, Canada
  • John Houweling – Director Data, Analytics & Visualization Services, York Region, Canada
  • Jillian Elder – Vice President Real Estate Market Research, Ross Stores, Inc.
  • Rob Bailey – Airport Technology Program Manager, Charlotte Douglas International Airport
  • Katherine Lynch – Principal Business Partner – Technology, BHP, Australia
  • Mary Jo Horace - Deputy CIO, Cook Co., IL
  • Susan Olson - Asst. Director of Information Technology, Frisco, TX
  • Tim Nolan - Senior Applications Manager, Collin Co., TX
  • Gary Maguire – State Lead, Geospatial Intelligence at Dept. of the Premier & Cabinet, South Australia
  • Trisha Brush - GIS Director, Kenton Co., KY
  • David Moss - Deputy Director of Data Management & GIS, Maricopa Co., AZ
  • Qazi Iqbal - Assistant CIO (GIS), Fulton Co., GA
  • Steven Steinberg - GIO, Los Angeles Co., CA
  • Keith Stump - Executive Director/GIO, Knox Co./Knoxville, TN
  • Tina Miller - GIO, Anchorage, AK
  • Larry Nierth - GIO, Houston, TX
  • Kenneth Juengling - GIO, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
  • Joseph Sloop - GIO, Forsyth Co., NC


Here's an interesting point for those that are GIOs, some GIOs report to the CIO/CTO, but some report directly to another executive.  I think this is an important point to make that who you report to can often offer insight to the importance executives put in your position.  For instance, Joseph Sloop, the GIO at Forsyth Co., NC, reports to the County Manager.  This shows that the top executive in that organization values that position so much, that they want to personally direct their work.  Additionally, there are some examples of GIS leaders that may not have the leadership titles, but still are valued enough to report directly to top executives.  This is the case for the following positions:

  • GIS Coordinator, Oak Hill, WV reports to City Manager
  • GIS Analyst, Morgantown, WV reports to the Assistant City Manager
  • GIS Manager, Montgomery Co., PA reports to the Chief Operating Officer
  • GIS Manager, Skagit Co., WA reports to the Central Services Division Manager

What I'm trying to do here is show examples of how your peers are changing their role in the organization to improve their personal professional development as well as increase the value of GIS.  Use them as inspiration to do the same, change from GIS Manager to GIS Leader.


There is a tremendous opportunity for you as a GIS practitioner to move up in your organization and transition from GIS Manager to GIS Leader. This is a valuable endeavor as it improves you personally and professionally as well as your organization. Remember that your colleagues want your help and need your help, they just don't know it. Reach out to them, be proactive, sell them on the value of spatial analytics and location intelligence. Enable them to use the technology themselves with easy-to-use apps that work on any device, anywhere, at any time. Even though your job description may not include working on the five pillars of location intelligence (Strategy, Organization, Technology & Data, Culture and Literacy), make sure you are dedicating time to all of them, the people funding the enterprise GIS (taxpayers, shareholders, donors) deserve the ultimate level of return on investment and this means maximizing the capabilities of the ArcGIS platform and expanding the number of users.


Don't try to do this alone, reach out to Esri, our distributors, and our partners, as well as your peers and professional network.  Learn from the examples of your peers that are doing this.  Get some non-GIS training on subjects like management, leadership, IT, and business.  Remember that GIS is not about maps, it's about digital transformation.  Align your work to helping the business and to what the leaders at the top deem important, that's how to create value.


You can find additional resources related to this topic here.  Please reach out to me if you'd like to connect, I enjoy helping others in this important transition.  You can find me here on GeoNet as well as Twitter and LinkedIn.

This is a continuation of The Path from GIS Manager to GIS Leader - Part 1


The five pillars of Location Intelligence from the Esri Canada and IDC report, Winning with Location Intelligence: The Essential Practices.


The second of my important numbers (64, 76, 78, 84, 84) based on my research of 800+ GIS practitioners across the United State over the last two years, refers to the second pillar of location intelligence, Organization:

76% of organizations that use GIS do not have formal governance in place


While Organization covers many aspects of enterprise GIS, let's focus on Governance.  In this context, governance refers to the organizational structure for GIS within the organization.  GIS governance is a critical ingredient for any successful enterprise GIS.  If your organization does not have formal GIS governance, you should consider creating it.  Here are some resources to assist:

You should also reach out to your Esri Account Team for assistance and other examples of successful enterprise GIS governance.


The third of my important numbers mentioned above, refers to the third pillar of location intelligence, Technology & Data:

78% of GIS practitioners have not read the Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices document


While Technology & Data covers a wide area, let's focus on Best Practices.  This Architecting the ArcGIS Platform: Best Practices document is one of the most important documents produced by Esri, and it is updated at least three times a year.  Following and implementing best practices are another key ingredient to a successful enterprise GIS.  They are called best practices for a reason.  They are designed to help you learn from the missteps of others.  Many of the best practices in this document follow those established by the IT industry.  By implementing these best practices, your GIS will become stronger, more stable and effective.  Please work with your Esri Account Team to implement those that are applicable to your organization.


The fourth of my important numbers refers to the fourth pillar of location intelligence, Culture:


84% of organizations that use GIS do not have, and maintain, a Change Management Plan


While Culture covers a wide area, let's focus on Change Management.  According to Prosci, Change Management is the discipline that guides how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes.  The biggest challenge for a successful implementation is not the technology, it's the people.  The technology is the easy part.  You can deploy the best GIS app ever, but if nobody uses it, it's of no value.  Change management can really help technology adoption.  According to Prosci, organizations that combine a people-focused change management plan with a project plan are up to six times more likely to achieve their project goals.  Here are some resources to help you implement Change Management:

Please work with your Esri Account Team and our Esri Change Management Consulting to learn more about GIS and Change Management. 


The fifth of my important numbers refers to the fifth pillar of location intelligence, Literacy:

84% of organizations that use GIS do not have, and maintain, a Workforce Development Plan


While Literacy covers a wide area, let's focus on Workforce Development.  GIS is changing rapidly.  Everyone that uses GIS in an organization should be receiving some GIS training annually.  Getting financial support for training can be a challenge, as can figuring out what GIS training options to take in what order.  As an Esri customer, you have access to an Esri Training Consultant.  These Training Consultants can create a custom workforce development plan for you at no cost.  This plan will create learning pathways for each GIS user in your organization based on their roles, responsibilities and use of ArcGIS technology.  Once you have a workforce development plan, it can help you get budget to support this critical need.  There are also a collection of Learning Plans available on the Esri Training website.  Contact your Esri Account Team to get connected to your Training Consultant.


This discussion continues in Part 3...

Over the last ten years as technology has evolved, especially cloud and mobile devices, ArcGIS has transformed from a collection of software that runs on different devices, to a fully integrated cloud platform that allows the GIS practitioner to easily share their work with anyone, anywhere, anytime, on any device.  This transformation has changed the role of the GIS Manager, from managing a team of GIS practitioners that did all of the GIS work, to that of an enterprise IT system leader that focuses on enabling anyone inside, or outside the organization, to directly use GIS technology to make better decisions and do their job.  The GIS community has failed to keep up with this transformation in a few ways.


In this article from Directions Magazine on May 15, 2019, GIS Jobs: Current Industry Expectations, you can see that their research of 1,000 GIS job ads from September 2018 to January 2019 shows that the most common attributes for a GIS Manager/Coordinator position include:

  • one to four years of experience,
  • a bachelor's degree in Geography, and
  • software skills that include Esri software, programming skills, database skills


Those requirements do not represent the skills required by the modern GIS Manager of a cloud-enabled enterprise IT system.  The requirements now are more focused on enterprise IT system management, business, strategy, governance, innovation, marketing, change management, and workforce development.  Due to this disconnect, where most GIS manager positions are defined incorrectly, there is an atmosphere of unawareness as to what they should be doing.  This has led to a chronic underutilization of enterprise GIS in most organizations that have the technology.  This trend of underutilization can be supported by the following documents:


  • “Generally, people outside of GIS think of GIS just as ‘maps’ or a graphic product, or the younger brother of CAD.” Five suggestions to get more out of your GIS:
  • “GIS is often seen as “maps” or a visual graphics product, and the more advanced capabilities are ignored because they remain unknown to key departments and decision makers.”

Mapping the Cause: Using GIS to Determine Potential Causes for Cancer, Aug. 27, 2015

  • Low awareness the biggest hurdle - However, understanding the complexity and potential about this technology amongst those technology innovators is still limited. “The geospatial industry is still undervalued and under-appreciated by the world at large. The onus is on us to collectively demonstrate how location data and tools can be applied to make dramatic improvements to society from making every journey safer and our air cleaner to helping businesses operate more efficiently,” underlines Edzard Overbeek, CEO, HERE Technologies.

As expected, lack of awareness among users and policymakers remains the biggest challenge for the industry, with over 38% listing it as a primary hurdle... (Graph 14)

Disruption a bane or boon: What is the geospatial industry’s vision for 2018?, Jan. 12, 2018


This trend of underutilization has led to an outdated image of most GIS practitioners as mapmakers.  While mapmaking is a valuable and treasured skill, if an organization has an enterprise GIS implemented, the GIS practitioners should be doing a lot more than just making maps.  If the non-GIS practitioners in the organization think the GIS practitioners only make maps, that is all they will ask for.  The problem is, they want help, and need help from the GIS practitioners to apply spatial analytics to their mission, they just don't know that they can help them in this manner.


One of the first things an enterprise GIS manager needs to do is change this image.  There are a few ways to do this.  Internal marketing and education is one way.  One easy way to start to work on this is to change your elevator pitch.  Many GIS practitioners when asked what they do for a living say, "I make maps." or "I do GIS, it's like Google Maps."  This prolongs the mapmaker image, therefore it is crucial that you change your elevator pitch to something like, "I help people use the power of location to make better decisions."


Rebranding is another way, there is a growing movement for GIS practitioners changing their job titles and the name of their department to remove the term "GIS" from them, to distance themselves from the mapmaker image.  Examples of this include Decision Analytics, Spatial Analytics, Location Intelligence, Geospatial Intelligence, GeoAnalytics, and Location Innovative Services.


Another part of internal marketing and education is proactively changing your communication focus with non-GIS users.  Most GIS users tend to focus on the technology in their communication with non-GIS users.  This is not an effective mode of communication, you need to communicate with non-GIS users in ways that interest them in what you can do to help them.  The best way to do this is to shift the communication focus to capabilities.  A capability is "the power or ability to do something" according to Lexico powered by Oxford.  Adding capabilities to an organization and its staff will interest executives and managers.  The capability that GIS can enable is best described as location intelligence.  Watch this short video for a definition of location intelligence.


Enabling a new capability, like location intelligence, for an organization and its workers, is very different than implementing technology.  In 2019, Esri Canada released a report they developed with IDC called Winning with Location Intelligence: The Essential Practices.  This report identifies best practices for how to be successful with location intelligence.  They surveyed two hundred organizations across Canada in all industries.  These organizations had five hundred or more employees.  They analyzed their use of location intelligence and identified common best practices.  They categorize these best practices into what they call the five pillars of location intelligence.

These five pillars of location intelligence help us understand in more detail the skills required of an enterprise GIS manager.  You can see that you cannot spend all of your time on Technology & Data.  You must dedicate time and effort to the other four.  My research shows that the majority of organizations that have implemented GIS are not spending time in these other four areas.  Here are five important numbers that will be revealed in this blog series:

64, 76, 78, 84, 84


Starting with the first of the five pillars of location intelligence, Strategy, why is a strategy so important?  In this article from McKinsey & Company entitled, Catch them if you can: How leaders in data and analytics have pulled ahead, their survey of over five hundred C-level executives and senior managers representing a full range of regions, industries and sizes showed that:

The creation of a strategy now ranks as the number one challenge to, and reason for, companies' success at data and analytics...

Once you realize you need a strategic plan, you may encounter resistance from executives regarding the dedication of resources to the development of a strategic plan.  If that is the case, here is a great article from Matt Lewin of Esri Canada, Why organizations need a geospatial strategy: An executive perspective.


Here's the first of my important numbers, based on my research of 800+ GIS practitioners across the United States over the last two years:

64% of organizations that use GIS do not have, and maintain, a GIS Strategic Plan

What is a Geospatial Strategy?


A Geospatial Strategy is a business-oriented plan that defines how an organization will use GIS to achieve its goals.  An effective geospatial strategy connects your business needs with the right people, processes and technology to help you overcome challenges and improve results.


When creating a Geospatial Strategy, it is critical that you focus on the business, not the technology.  Your objective is to focus your work on assisting the business.  You do this by first identifying and understanding what the business goals are, these should be documented in strategic plans, initiatives, Key Performance Indicators, etc.  Then you identify and understand the challenges that the organization is facing that are keeping it from achieving the goals.  Then you deploy GIS solutions that overcome the challenges so the goals are achieved.  This results in real business value of GIS.

For more information on the Esri Best Practices on how to create a Geospatial Strategy, please check out this document, The Approach to Maximize Impact and be sure to contact your Esri Account Team.


This discussion continues in Part 2...

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