Collaboration in ArcGIS 10.5.1 – A Step Forward on the Digital Path

November 1, 2017

ArcGIS 10.5.1 offers a new capability that allows collaborating across and outside of organizations when using ArcGIS Enterprise or ArcGIS Online. Find out more about Distributed Collaboration.

Each step an organization takes toward digital transformation requires a sound digital strategy encompassing technology, people and processes. Esri continues to make strides in advancing the geographic information system solutions it offers in the market to contribute to digital progression. 2017 saw some remarkable updates in ArcGIS technology. Collaboration was one such update.

As organizations prepare to enhance their productivity, they are looking to break down inter-departmental silos, and increase transparency and connectivity – encouraging collaborations within and outside of their organization. With the introduction of distributed collaboration in ArcGIS Enterprise 10.5.1, users can now collaborate among ArcGIS Enterprise organizations, as well as from ArcGIS Enterprise to ArcGIS Online.

Collaboration allows you to connect and integrate your GIS across a network of participants – whether they use ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise. ArcGIS Enterprise is a full-featured mapping and analytics platform. It includes a powerful GIS web services server plus dedicated Web GIS infrastructure for organizing and sharing your work in order to make maps, geographic information and analyses available on any device, anywhere, at any time.

The collaboration capability allows ArcGIS Enterprise-to-ArcGIS Enterprise or ArcGIS Online-to-ArcGIS Enterprise sharing. This facilitates a new realm of creating and sharing content among individuals, departments, organizations and communities; content that is discoverable by any participating organization in the collaborative workspace.

Who can collaborate?

There are different ways that organizations can leverage distributed collaboration: two organizations between themselves; integration between an ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise organization; a centralized hub pattern where a centralized organization aggregates content from other organizations.

ArcGIS 10.5.1, just like the 10.5 version, is fully integrated with Web GIS which can be accessed via ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online. In the earlier version, you could collaborate between portals, but now, you can share content between two or more ArcGIS Enterprise deployments, or Enterprise and Online organizations.

For example, a city with ArcGIS Enterprise can act as the host and create a collaboration where other departments and organizations with ArcGIS Enterprise participate as guests.

In this pattern, the city is creating the distributed collaboration through ArcGIS Enterprise while the various departments are participating through their ArcGIS Enterprise portals. The ArcGIS Enterprise, owned by the city, initiates the collaboration. The departments of Public Works, Transportation and Emergency Services are collaboration participants. The city’s GIS team makes updates to the existing data that all the three departments can access and edit in real time. When Transportation department notes an issue with potholes on one of the roads, it makes a note in the data via the collaborated platform. The Public Works department repairs the roads and makes an update in the collaborative platform. This new update is now available to the rest of the participants.

Creating a Collaboration

Creating a collaboration is easy in ArcGIS 10.5.1. Here are three steps to creating a collaborative workspace:

  1. Invite: If you are a member of ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise, you can be the host. Click on Create a collaboration, and you will receive invitation files that you can use to invite the ArcGIS Enterprise guests.
  2. Respond: ArcGIS Enterprise members, as guests, can accept the invitation by clicking on Join a collaboration. This will generate an automated response that they can send back to the host.
  3. Accept and Share: Once the host administrator accepts the response, the guests and hosts become part of the collaborative workspace and can begin sharing content.

Since each user across groups will have their own ownership-based access control, distributed collaboration allows group administrators to keep data safe and updated in real time, while making it accessible to all.

For example, if your organization has 20 users and you would only like five of them to be able to edit data, you can grant those five users the appropriate access to the function. Meanwhile, the rest can have limited access controls – just for viewing, or entering data, or accessing limited data and so forth.

Collaboration can happen in many ways – sometimes just by accessing the data, not necessarily contributing or editing it. While collaboration doesn’t support sharing apps at this time, one can share maps, layers and files. Read more about how you can get onboard distributed collaboration at

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