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3 steps to create an Open Data site with ArcGIS

Using ArcGIS Open Data, it’s easy to create a publicly accessible site where data can be shared with the public in a variety of formats. If your organization has an ArcGIS Online subscription, you already have access to ArcGIS Open Data. Take advantage of this platform and easily launch an Open Data site in the three steps detailed in this post.

A previous post on our Getting Technical blog recommended steps to ensure high quality Open Data downloads. Now that you’ve got your data properly described and organized, your next step is to move it up to the Open Data site. Not only do you need to make the data available to your users, but you also want to provide a site that is easy to navigate and showcases your organization’s unique brand. If you need ideas on developing your Open Data objectives and goals, I’d suggest taking a look at this blog post on planning a successful open data program. In this post, I’ll give you the steps to move forward with the technical aspects of launching the site.

You can get started with ArcGIS Open Data site in three simple steps:

  1. Prepare and Manage Data in an Open Data Configured ArcGIS Online Group

ArcGIS Online Roles

There are specific ArcGIS Online privileges that need to be granted to your users in order to enable and manage the Open Data site. These privileges are automatically granted to the Administrator role. With other roles, you will need the privileges “Make groups available to Open Data” as well as “Manage Open Data site(s)”. These privileges can be granted and revoked in ArcGIS Online by an Administrator.

Open Data Groups

Once you’ve ensured your data is prepared, your next step is to share this data with an ArcGIS Online group to be used in the site. You can create a new group or modify an existing one, but the purpose of the group is to share the data you will be showcasing in your site. Any data you add to the group will be added to your Open Data site.

In the Groups tab of ArcGIS Online, click ‘Create A Group’. Populate the group descriptions with information describing the purpose of this group; for example, it’s a good idea to include ‘Open Data’ in the name as it’ll be easier to find this group when creating the Open Data site. Ensure that the ‘Status’ is set to ‘Public’, and you have checked on ‘Designate as available for use in Open Data sites’.

Be sure to make your group public and designate it as available for use in Open Data sites.

You can add the following types of data to the group to be used by the Open Data site:

  • Feature Layers
  • Tables
  • CSV files
  • Image Services
  • Web Maps
  • Documents

Data can be added to the group through the My Content page of ArcGIS Online. After clicking on the white checkbox to the left of your service name, click Share > Access and choose to share the item with your Open Data group. You can batch add data to the group by checking multiple services before choosing ‘Share’.

If you’d like more information on the data supported by Open Data, take a look at the help documentation.

  1. Configure the Open Data Site

Enable the Open Data site

Now that you’ve got the data in your Group, you’ll want to activate your Open Data site. To enable Open Data capabilities in your organization’s ArcGIS Online site, navigate to My Organization > Edit Settings, and then click the ‘Open Data’ tab along the left hand side of the page. Click the ‘Enable Open Data’ button. You can come back to this Open Data tab in the future to manage your sites, or to disable Open Data if you so choose. You can also directly log in to the Open Data site via

The ‘Manage Sites’ button will take you to the list of your Open Data sites. Also on this page are the ‘Assign Group Members’ and ‘View My Content’ buttons. An Administrator of your organization can use the ‘Assign Group Members’ button to batch assign ArcGIS Online members to your Open Data group. The ‘View My Content’ button takes you to the ‘My Content’ tab of ArcGIS Online.

The Open Data admin application

Click on the ‘Manage Sites’ button to open the Sites page where an administrator or user with the privilege to ‘Manage Open Data site(s)’ can create a new Open Data site, or visit, manage and edit an existing site by clicking on its name.

The ‘Site Configuration’ page is used to create the Open Data site, and is opened by clicking on ‘Create a new site’. This page is where you will want to include the basic information of your Open Data site, including:

  • Site Name – the name displayed to inform users which Open Data site they are visiting.
  • Site URL – chose the URL that will be used to navigate to your open data site.
  • Browser Icon – a custom icon that displays to the left of the site URL in the browser can be uploaded. Must be an .ICO file.
  • Custom Domain – Custom DNS configuration.
  • Google Analytics Tracking ID – if you want to utilize Google Analytics to track the usage of your open data site, this is where you can input the tracking ID. More information on using Google Analytics in your Open Data site can be found in the ArcGIS Open Data documentation.
  • This site is Private/Public toggle will change the privacy of your Open Data site.
  • ‘Set Extent’ map – choose to either ‘Draw Extent’ or use ‘Map Navigation’ to select the map extents of the data you will be uploading to the Open Data site.

Clicking ‘Next’ will bring you to the Groups Manager. This is how you add data to your Open Data site. By clicking on the green ‘Add’ button (next to your group name under ‘Available Open Data Groups’), you will be adding all of the data associated to this group to the site.

  1. Design the Look of your Open Data Site and Make it Public

After clicking ‘Next’, you will be brought to the Site Editor page where you can configure the look and style of your Open Data page. Using the wizards provided or your own HTML/CSS code, you can design the headers and footers of the site. The Body Content section of the Site Editor page is the main home page visited by you users.

The page can be designed by inserting different Widgets, which you can resize by clicking and dragging. There are different types of widgets, including text, an image, a RSS feed or a list of the data content available on the Open Data site. A widget can be deleted by hovering over the inner content and clicking the garbage can icon that appears in the upper right corner of the window.

Use Widgets, which can be easily resized by clicking and dragging, to design the Open Data site.

From here, you have access to three new tabs: Capabilities, Data Manager and Preview Site. The Capabilities tab has two options for features, Charts and Enhanced Search. The Enhanced Search capability enables text auto completion when users search for data in your Open Data site. The Charts option allows users to create a chart of the dataset’s attributes in many different styles, such as Histogram, Scatter Plot, Line Chart, and Donut Charts. When users create a chart in your Open Data site, they’ll be able to hover over segments of the chart and see the correlating feature locations in the map. They can also easily generate the HTML required to embed the chart in their own Web site by clicking on the ‘Embed Chart’ button.

This Donut Chart displays the percentage of evergreen and deciduous trees in the ‘Trees’ feature layer.

There are beta capabilities available in the Capabilities window, however they may not be fully functional and are not supported at this time.

The Data Manager page offers report and management tools to help identify datasets that could have issues within your Open Data site, enable manual resyncing of your data and automatic download caching. Detailed information about the Data Manager is available from the ArcGIS Open Data documentation.

Once you’ve designed the look and functionality of your Open Data site, click on the ‘Preview Site’ tab to take a look at your handiwork! Do you see all of the data you would like available to your users? Is the site easy to navigate, and visually appealing? You’ll want to keep in mind the audience of your Open Data when fine-tuning the site.

If you navigate away from the Site Builder page at any time, you can reopen it by navigating to My Organization > Edit Settings > ‘Open Data’ tab > ‘Mange Sites’. Under each of your Open Data site names, there are buttons to direct you to the configuration pages for the site. This is also where you make your site public by toggling on ‘This site is public’. Once you’ve finished designing the site, be sure to make it public so that users can visit it.

That’s it! You’ve successfully launched an Open Data site where citizens can easily discover and download public data related to their community. Leave a comment below to let us know what data you’re sharing with your Open Data site.