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Demystifying ArcGIS Solutions: how they help you solve common geographic challenges

Whether you are new to GIS or a seasoned expert confronted with a complex question ArcGIS Solutions will get you to your goal and help you get the most out of your GIS investment. Join us as we discover what ArcGIS Solutions are and how they can help you in your organization

This fall, Jordan Haughn and I delivered the “Demystifying ArcGIS Solutions” webinar to introduce one of our favourite products in the Esri toolbox, ArcGIS Solutions. Thanks again for attending, and if you didn’t make it this time, you can view the recording. In our short time together, we covered all the basics of ArcGIS Solutions and hope that you have begun your journey with those tools but if you missed it or webinars aren’t for you, we wanted to give you a brief recap of the key points to keep sharing the love for ArcGIS Solutions.

What are ArcGIS Solutions and why were they developed?

You have heard the term ArcGIS Solutions tossed round before or seen them in your organization’s app launcher, but what are they really? It may seem obvious that they are an application because of where you find them in your account (don’t worry we will cover that later), and they are but there is a lot more to them than that. ArcGIS Solutions are a tool developed by Esri that allows you to create industry-specific configurations of ArcGIS products. They are designed to help you solve real-world problems and improve your decision-making. Each of these configurations is unique and they are specifically designed to meet your business needs and support your common workflows. They are not one single tool. Think of them as more of a launchpad for getting you started. They can contain a wide variety of components from ArcGIS Pro projects to web apps, and even notebooks; helping you leverage everything Esri has to offer.

a graphic depicting the ArcGIS Solutions logo on the left with a large arrow pointing to a collection of smaller application logos on the right that make up the potential components of a solution including online app builders, field apps, and desktop software. Demystifying ArcGIS Solutions: how they help you solve common geographic challenges

ArcGIS Solutions provide you with configurations of Esri’s full product collection.

The ArcGIS Solutions team at Esri Inc. developed this product with the end users in mind, focusing on four key goals:

  1. Solve your business needs
  2. Work collaboratively with the user communities
  3. Drive your implementation of ArcGIS
  4. Promote modern deployment patterns

Let’s look at each of these goals to better understand ArcGIS Solutions as a product.

Solving Business Needs:

Every industry has unique and complex workflows, and the ArcGIS Solutions team understands that, so whether your goal is to manage assets or share key information with the public, unique solutions are built to meet key business requirements. There are currently over 100 solutions available, each addressing a specific question in 8 different industries ranging from business and conservation, health and human services or state and local government.

A screen capture from the ArcGIS Solutions page showing the 8 different industry categories included with ArcGIS Solutions. From left two right they are (top row) Business, Conservation, Defense, Health and Human Services, (bottom row) Public safety, State and Local Government, Telecommunications, Utilities.

This screen capture from the ArcGIS Solutions documentation shows all 8 industry categories.

Within each industry, there are a number of solutions that each achieve their own independent goal. For example, the Crime Analysis public safety solution allows emergency responders to visualize and analyze crime patterns, identify trends and hotspots and optimize deployment strategies using an ArcGIS Pro project.

Image from the Crime Analysis solution showing hotspots around crime incident points in ArcGIS Pro.

An example of hotspots generated by the Crime Analysis solution in ArcGIS Pro.

Whereas the Electric Overhead Inspections utilities solution enables utility companies to conduct inspection campaigns and monitor the condition of electric overhead assets through ArcGIS Experience Builder apps and Survey123 forms.

Images from the Electric Overhead Inspections solution showing an ArcGIS Survey123 form on a phone and an Experience Builder application on a desktop.

An example of a Survey123 and Experience Builder application generated by the Electric Overhead Inspections solution.

Community Collaboration

The ArcGIS Solutions team is also dedicated to working collaboratively with the user community. Every solution that is developed and released has been built by consulting with community members to ensure that what is included is the best possible configuration for the task at hand. The idea behind solutions is to make things easier for users by having everything you need in one place. Having input from the individuals who will be using these solutions leverages their expert knowledge, so only what you need for your work is included; no more and no less. This creates the best possible approach to solving common industry issues and answers the questions that matter to you.

Drive Implementation and Modern Deployment Patterns

ArcGIS Solutions are designed to drive the implementation of ArcGIS products using modern deployment patterns. Esri has a large and ever-growing suite of products that can accomplish a variety of tasks. You may be familiar with a handful of them, but the wide range of specialized configurations provided by ArcGIS Solutions can open you up to applications you may not have previously considered.  By helping you access the functionality of Esri tools that are most relevant to your tasks, it becomes easier for users to implement GIS software and to help realize the full potential of GIS in their work. Available through both ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcGIS Solutions are also designed to be scalable and flexible, allowing users to easily adjust their solutions as their needs evolve. This means users can easily add new functionality or data sources to their solutions without completely redesigning their solution. Overall, ArcGIS Solutions provide users with a modern, agile and scalable way to deploy GIS solutions that can quickly and easily adapt to changing needs.

The primary purpose of ArcGIS Solutions, as is demonstrated by the developers’ missions, is to make  Esri tools more accessible. Using pre-configured templates, ArcGIS Solutions provide a quick and easy way to get started with ArcGIS and solve specific problems.

Why should you use ArcGIS Solutions?

Now that you have a better understanding as to what ArcGIS Solutions are, let’s examine their benefits and how you can use them. There are many reasons why you would want to work with ArcGIS Solutions in your workflows, but the three main reasons are highlighted below:

  1. Leverage flexible deployment options: As we saw above, ArcGIS Solutions are both flexible and scalable, giving you many options in your work. You can get ArcGIS Solutions up and running quickly with your ArcGIS Online organization or deploy them with ArcGIS Enterprise on infrastructure you manage behind your firewall. Once deployed you can use them exactly as they are or you can modify the contents, adding or removing components, to perfectly fit your needs.
  2. Save Time: Reduce the time it takes to deploy location-based solutions in your organization and increase their business impact. By providing pre-built, tested and validated solutions that can be easily customized to meet your specific needs, ArcGIS Solutions help you get a jumpstart on your work.  This allows you to deploy GIS solutions quickly and easily without having to build everything from scratch.
  3. Maximize your investment: Working with location-based data and technology is a large investment in your organization. By using ArcGIS Solutions, you are opening workflows up to the entire suite of Esri products. By designing individual solutions to align with unique business needs, you can maximize the investment you are making in your work.

In one click ArcGIS Solutions brings you this array of interconnected content for you to make your own. Making your workflows in GIS easier than ever before.

How can I get started with solutions?

At this point, I hope you are convinced to give ArcGIS Solution a try in your GIS workflows. Once you are ready to get started with solutions, you may have some questions about how to deploy them yourself. Let’s start by looking at the licensing requirements. 

License requirements

ArcGIS Solutions are included as part of your ArcGIS Online Subscription and ArcGIS Enterprise Licensing at no additional cost. If you currently have an ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise account, you are ready to begin your ArcGIS Solutions journey.

an image of the ArcGIS Online (left) and ArcGIS Enterprise (right) logos.

ArcGIS Solutions can be accessed through both ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise.

The only requirement for your account is to have either a Creator or GIS Professional License level. If you happen to be working with ArcGIS Enterprise 10.7 or earlier the equivalent license requirement would be a Level 2 license.

For ArcGIS Online users, or those working in Enterprise 11, there are no additional steps, and you will see the ArcGIS Solutions app in your app launcher in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise Portal. For users working with Enterprise 10.9 you will need to install the solutions application to see it in your app launcher. If you are using ArcGIS Enterprise 10.5 through 10.8.1 ArcGIS Solutions will be deployed through ArcGIS Pro and you will need to install the ArcGIS Solutions Deployment Tool.

Deploying the solution

With the licenses and any required software covered, it is time to finally deploy the software. For the most part this process is very simple, find the solution you would like to use and select the deploy now button! You will want to make sure you are first researching the solutions thoroughly to ensure you are using the best option for you. We have broken down the deployment process into six quick steps to go from start to finish with your work:

a diagram showing the six steps for deploying a solution starting from Select your solution (top right) and moving to Share your work (bottom left).

The six steps to deploy an ArcGIS Solution.

  1. Select your solution: With over 100 solutions there are many to choose from that may meet your organization’s needs. Take your time to look through them to be sure you find the best fit for you.
  2. Review the documentation: Each solution is unique in both content and configuration steps. Ensure you thoroughly review the associated documentation to understand what is included in the application and what you will need to configure.
  3. Deploy the solution: The quickest step in the process. Once you have decided on your solution and reviewed the documentation, just click that deploy now button, and the application will build out the content for you in your organization in a few minutes.
  4. Populate the data: Each solution will have unique requirements for the configuration process, but the majority will require you to load in some of your own data or modify the data and templates included to match your specific needs.  You will need to ensure that you have the schemas matching up and all the data loaded into the correct features for the solutions to work as designed.
  5. Customize the solution: Once all the data is loaded, begin the custom configuration. Often an optional step, this is where you make the solution your own. From changing up the language used to setting the colours and branding of the application, there are endless opportunities to make the solutions blend seamlessly into your organization. To see an example of how you can customize a solution, look at this YouTube video that goes through how I configured the Community Science application as a part of our webinar demonstration:

  1. Share your work: Finally, once everything is ready to go, you can share your work with the appropriate groups or the public so people can get started using the solution.

Once you have gone through these simple steps, you will have a fully functioning GIS solution ready for use in your organization. If you would like to see an example of a deployed solution, look at the ArcGIS Solution Try it live page. Here you will be able to access many of the solutions that are available and see an example of one that has been preconfigured by Esri Inc.

A graphic showing the ArcGIS Solutions Try-it-live page with an arrow pointing to a computer screen displaying a configured dashboard.

Use the ArcGIS Solutions Try-it-live page to see examples of solutions that have been deployed.

ArcGIS Solutions are a valuable resource for organizations looking to make the most of their GIS data and create value for their business. They provide a rich set of developments designed with the user community in mind, help you address common business needs, and allow you to get the most out of your investment in GIS. Whether you are a GIS professional or a beginner, ArcGIS Solutions offers a wide range of benefits and are a smart choice for anyone looking to get the most out of their GIS data. With ArcGIS Solutions, solving complex GIS problems has never been easier, and I hope you give them a chance when working on your next project.

About the Author

Maggie Samson is a Technical Solutions Specialist at Esri Canada. She focuses on sharing the endless possibilities with Esri technology by creating demonstration resources. Maggie discovered her love of maps after getting lost on family road trips a few too many times. While at the University of Guelph studying geography, she was introduced to Esri's ArcGIS Desktop products and the world of digital mapping. This led her to Fleming College for a postgraduate diploma in GIS. In her free time, she likes to go on an adventure with her dog—and they do not get lost.

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