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Improving Municipal Services with ArcGIS Pro

Darren Talbot is a GIS Specialist at a municipality in Atlantic Canada. He and the team work to stay on the leading edge of GIS technology and apply its latest capabilities to help them do their jobs better. Darren and the team recently adopted Esri’s next-generation desktop GIS application, ArcGIS Pro. We sat down with Darren Talbot to learn about his experience migrating to Pro.

Why did the team move to ArcGIS Pro?
DT: Our GIS team regularly attends Esri Canada webinars, MOOCs, local user conferences and the virtual Esri UC. At these sessions, we learned about the interesting projects and solutions that other state, provincial and municipal governments were doing with GIS after migrating to ArcGIS Pro. Expanding GIS into the 3D realm and applying building information modelling (BIM) to support smart city planning are a couple initiatives on our wish list. With a wealth of updated 3D data creation and analysis tools to serve staff, we knew moving to Pro was the next logical step. 

How did you start using Pro?
DT: Prior to migrating to ArcGIS Pro, our GIS team had taken on the delivery of classified LiDAR and imagery for the entire regional municipality, bringing with it an opportunity to make use of this data to improve the quality of our GIS, as well as expand it to areas previously unexplored.

As a cartographer and GIS specialist, I try to keep up with the latest GIS capabilities, so I subscribed to the ArcGIS for Personal Use Program, which included access to Esri’s desktop GIS applications like ArcGIS Pro and a suite of extensions.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic began, forcing many of us to work from home. I found myself with more time to tinker and learn about ArcGIS Pro, and think about how it would be useful as we explored 3D GIS and developed a 3D digital twin of the city core. I applied the 3D basemaps solution provided by Esri and using preconfigured tasks, I edited the LiDAR and derived layers to create a proof-of-concept 3D web scene and shared it to ArcGIS Online.

3D overhead map of the city.

How did the team prepare for a smooth transition to Pro?
DT: Leading up to the migration to ArcGIS Pro, the GIS Team enrolled in Esri Canada’s Migrating to ArcGIS Pro training course to get up to speed on the changes between ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro. GIS staff continued using ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro in tandem, migrating maps and projects, testing database scripts and server compatibility, to ensure a smooth rollout to users. Prior to the rollout, some of our GIS Team took additional training to become internal trainers. They created an ArcGIS Pro how-to website for new ArcGIS Pro users to get quick answers to questions as they started using ArcGIS Pro. Other business unit GIS users also took the same Migrating to ArcGIS Pro training and were granted access to ArcGIS Pro software on their computers prior to the rollout. All GIS users were given a grace period to migrate their workflows over to ArcGIS Pro from ArcMap before the ArcMap licenses were disabled. Overall, the rollout to staff went smoothly as the GIS Team provided support along the way.

How is the team using Pro now?
DT: Our team is using ArcGIS Pro for all things related to GIS in our daily work, including ongoing municipal GIS data creation, asset management, data updates and maintenance. Our team is also responsible for providing support to GIS users in other business units as well as our Police, Fire and Emergency Management Operations (EMO) services.

We create map products for the City’s many publications and council reports, develop and share web apps and maps for staff to support field data collection, update and query data and superimpose GIS layers over aerial imagery, all using ArcGIS Pro.

Our team also uses Pro to support the City’s citizens in all things GIS. This includes sharing digital maps and data to our Open Data portal or to ArcGIS Online for residents. From there, residents are able to access property tax information quickly and easily, learn about the closest off-leash dog park, or check when their garbage will be picked up.

What’s next for the team?
DT: Since migrating to ArcGIS Pro in February 2021, our team is working with the Planning and Development business unit and Esri Canada staff on an exciting ArcGIS Urban pilot project in the downtown core. We’re also looking to do more 3D and LiDAR-related projects and use Pro to expand our digital twin.

Our team wants to make use of other ArcGIS Solutions for Local Government to look at environmental issues such as climate change, and analyze sea level rise, flood risks and storm surges. We are also investigating the use of BIM and internal asset mapping for our emergency response operations, as well as looking into using AI with our aerial imagery to do analysis and feature extraction from the photography to fill in gaps in our data layers. As you can see, there’s lots to do, and our team is excited to discover new ways to support our internal departments and City residents using GIS.

Want to learn more? Check out these resources for migrating to ArcGIS Pro.

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Shanondoah Nicholson is a Marketing Specialist at Esri Canada. She believes maps tell a story, and that story can make businesses and communities better. Shanondoah has a bachelor’s degree in English and Canadian Studies and has over 10 years of experience in developing campaigns to ensure customers achieve success. Her trivia team depends on her love of geography to help them win week after week.

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