This year’s theme at the ESRI User Conference was ‘Applying Geography Everywhere’. This phrase may seem superfluous to some, as we think about and operate in a geographical context with literally every task and every job. Almost every conversation we have with internal or external clients relates to geography in some way.

What ESRI is actually referring to by ’applying geography everywhere’, is the need for a tool that has the ability to communicate with the higher level GIS data management software suite, yet allows accessibility and interoperability to this data. This tool should be able to provide secure access from anywhere and everywhere to data.  A tool with this capability could transform the way organizations operate internally, while providing new solutions externally.

Enter ESRI Portal.

As our relationships have developed with clients, and our reputation has become synonymous with results our leaders have pushed for expanding the role of GIS in our organization and organizations world-wide. Utilizing ESRI Portal can give us the edge we need to develop new applications and solutions for existing and potential clients.

Within the short life of Portal at MCA, we have developed new ways for survey, engineering and GIS to communicate by sharing file types and allowing for smart data collection. This smart field data collection includes manhole assessments and pipeline (sewer) assessments, culvert analysis, and project tracking for tree clearing staking. ALL of these have employed a combination of desktop based GIS analysis and access through Android powered devices or desktop computers via Portal. This diversity of access is what makes Portal such a powerful technology.

Recently, we have begun to develop even more uses for Portal. This includes our own, MCA built, land acquisition system that uses experienced field agent knowledge, Portal technologies, and data procurement from existing GIS datasets to develop a land tracking system that can be viewed by our external client.

Moving forward the opportunities for MCA GIS, and the organization as a whole are expanding thanks to our investment in ESRI Portal, which bring us back to Portal’s true transformative potential: ‘Applying Geography Everywhere’.

James Render
GIS Analyst
Metro Consulting Associates