Using ArcGIS Sites and Hub for Navigating and Consuming Organizational GIS Content

August 9, 2021 — Ed Vigil

As Utilities continue to add GIS-related applications, dashboards, and maps to their GIS enterprise, it is becoming ever more important to centralize and organize their published content. ArcGIS Hub and Sites provides a good solution for this.  ArcGIS Sites (also known as ArcGIS Hub in ArcGIS Online) is an internal cloud-based data, maps, and application sharing website included with Esri’s Portal for ArcGIS. With its ability to create a webpage-like environment, it has the ability to act as the central website for organizing all Esri GIS cloud content in an intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface.

Like any good webpage design, Sites allow for organizing multiple pages in a logical hierarchical design with dependencies and a natural flow. The organization of a Sites design may look like this: the main page can be created to be the navigator to all the subsequent pages and serves as the “root” of all other pages.  First-order dependents stem from the main page with related content within each page. An example of this could be the “Electric Transmission” page. This page can be accessed from the main page and has all GIS-related content pertaining to the electric transmission department within the organization. A second-order dependent could be all the sub-divisions within the electric transmission department such as the substation or transmission lines departments. The figure below shows how a hypothetical hierarchical webpage organization can look.

Sites provides the ability for multiple users and stakeholders within the organization to access GIS content. This content comes in many forms as ArcGIS Enterprise provides a wide range of products that can be published on the web. Among these, but not limited to, are map views, dashboards, web apps, experience builder apps, story maps, and survey 123 surveys. Not all content is designed for every user within the organization, therefore creating targeted pages for the consumption of appropriate users is useful. A distribution GIS user may not be interested in transmission content. So, to be able to organize all distribution content into a grouped and/or stakeholder targeted page is desirable. And for security purposes can be designed to be accessible only to certain authorized users. A possible workflow for a transmission substation engineer, within the company, to locate information and GIS content related to substations could be this: the engineer would access the main page through a url, find the Electric Transmission icon, click to arrive at the Transmission page, then, find the Transmission Substation icon, click to arrive at the Transmission Substations webpage. Now presented, is access to all content, maps, apps, and dashboards focused on substation locations. That engineer now has used fewer clicks to find the content needed than previously when using native ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Portal. See the figures below to see the pages in the workflow.

Within a single page, a wide range of design possibilities are available in Sites. A header, body, and footer are available. Within the header could be a splash image and title that can be placed to brand the site and make the page have an aesthetically pleasing look. The body can have embedded content such as an interactive web map, survey, or story map. Icons with hyperlinks pointing to first-order dependent pages or applications (such as a dashboard) along with text about the website can be also placed in the body. The footer can be designed to add information about the organization or to add links to non-related GIS content.

Sites and Hub are valuable resources for organizing online web GIS content. With a little thought behind design and structure, they can provide a valuable product to organize all GIS web content that is sharable and consumable. It is also a way to break out of GIS silos and clear those barriers to collaboration.

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