Our Insights

ArcGIS Online Tips & Tricks – Map Areas

December 10, 2018

By Robert Krisher
Senior GIS Consultant, POWER Engineers

The June 2018 ArcGIS Online Esri update ( https://www.esri.com/arcgis-blog/products/arcgis-online/announcements/whats-new-arcgis-online-june-2018/ ) contained many exciting new features. As part of this article, I’m going to show you how the addition of Map Areas is a game changer for customers who have implemented or are planning to implement ArcGIS Collector. The only caveat with this article is that while the Map Areas functionality was released in June, the support for Map Areas in ArcGIS Collector is currently only available in the new iOS Collector release: https://www.esri.com/arcgis-blog/products/collector/field-mobility/collector-aurora-released/

For those of you who aren’t familiar with ArcGIS Collector, it is one of several mobile applications developed by Esri that is freely available for download and use by their customers. ArcGIS Collector provides a map-based application that allows both field and office personnel to seamlessly view and edit data in real time. One of the challenges with data-centric mobile applications like ArcGIS Collector is that field users often need to work in a disconnected mode and the process to package and synchronize the amount of data required to support these users can be cumbersome.

Esri has listened to community feedback and created Map Areas to provide a quick and intuitive way for administrators to generate and manage offline packages for disconnected field users. A Map Area packages up all the information required to take data offline for a given area ahead of time, so that when field users go offline, the application will automatically download the data for the area they are working in.

To set up Map Areas you need to log into your ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise site and navigate to the offline section of the settings page of the map you have set up for offline use:

Once you click “Manage Areas,” you will be taken to the Map Areas management page. If it’s your first time on this page you will be prompted to create a new area:

Next, you will sketch and name the work area, define what level of detail is required, and set up how frequently the map area will be refreshed:

Once you click “Create,” the server will automatically begin creating and packaging the map areas for you. The amount of time it takes to create the package depends on the extent and level of detail you request, but for most reasonable requests the process should only take a few minutes. Once the map area is complete you can click/select it in the manage areas window and it will show you information about the map area:

Now that the map area is in place, any time one of the field users goes offline they’ll simply select one of the pre-built map areas to take offline. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of going offline — which is great when you’re trying to coordinate a large project that requires a fair amount of disconnected work!

For the full rundown of all the new features added in the new release of Collector for iOS, you can read their latest blog post here: https://www.esri.com/arcgis-blog/products/collector/field-mobility/collector-aurora-released/ There are some exciting features in this release that I’ve been dying to see in the field like native barcode readers, support for Arcade and finally the ability to sideload vector tile caches (I wrote an article about how great it would be to have vector tile caches over two years ago!).

I have clients who will be interested in this news, but I’m going to have to wait until the Android release next year before I can play with it on my own phone. What about you? Do you have any Collector apps you’re looking at switching to the latest release? Are there any key features that were finally released that you were waiting for? Drop me a link here on LinkedIn, or at my email Robert.Krisher@powereng.com.

About the Author:

Robert is a Senior Consultant in POWER’s Geospatial and Asset Management group with over 10 years of industry experience. Robert excels at pushing the boundaries of what is possible with GIS and related technologies at utilities, often by re-purposing proven technologies and methods in clever ways. As an active member of many early access programs across the industry and author of more than a dozen published articles, Robert is a recognized expert with Esri’s latest technology including ArcGIS Pro and the new Utility Network. He loves finding innovative solutions to complex challenges and sharing his insights with the GIS community. If you have any questions or comments for Robert, you can contact him at robert.krisher@powereng.com.