By ESRI Eastern Africa Team

In order to make services available to others outside the organization one requires web GIS and web GIS applications. Web GIS can be defined as any GIS that uses web technology to communicate between a server and a client where the server is a GIS server and the client is a web browser, desktop application, or mobile application.

A GIS basically consists of Hardware, Software, data and users. In the past these component were joined together in one computer with the development of web GIS these components don’t need to be located in one place. A GIS user can access a server located on the other side of the globe. ArcGIS offers various ways to make GIS available through web services. These options include ArcGIS for Server, ArcGIS Online, and Portal for ArcGIS.

By utilizing the Internet to access information Web GIS possess distinct advantages over traditional desktop GIS. These include:

-Easy to use: Web GIS is intended for a broad audience, including public users who may know nothing about GIS. They expect web GIS to be as easy as using a regular website. Web GIS is commonly designed for simplicity, intuition, and convenience, making it typically much easier to use than desktop GIS.

- A global reach: Web GIS Applications can be accessed from computers or mobile devices from around the world.

- A large number of users: A desktop GIS is usually used by one person at a time however web GIS can be accessed by dozens of people at a time.

- Unified updates: For web GIS, one update works for all clients. This ease of maintenance makes web GIS a good fit for delivering real-time information. - Diverse applications: Web GIS can be used by everyone in an enterprise as well as the public at large

The ArcGIS Platform

People use maps every day to get directions to a new restaurant or mall. Actually research shows that 74% of adults use their smartphones to look at maps or other information based on their current location. Organizations however use maps for different purposes. Some use them to locate their assets or to monitor customer patterns in the case of retailers. Organizations then require information that will help them make the best decision. That is where the Esri’s ArcGIS platform comes in handy. This is a complete mapping platform for organizations. Its' purpose is to help get the most business value out of maps and data with one corporate system, to make smarter, faster decisions. ArcGIS integrates mapping and spatial analysis into your business system dashboards and reporting systems. Basically it's for everybody in the organization not just a select few. The ArcGIS Platform is designed to be instinctual. It makes it possible for everyone in an organization to discover, use, make, and share maps from any device...anywhere, anytime.

Fig1: The platform is easily accessible from mobile, tablets and desktop. A central aspect of the platform is web GIS, which uses portals, applications, rich content, and cloud-based resources and infrastructure to support geocentric workflows. The ArcGIS platform flexibility allows organizations to choose the best implementation method. This includes either cloud, on premises, or a hybrid. The determination of which implementation method an organization should use should be based completely on which one works best with and integrates with the existing IT infrastructure.

What can you do with ArcGIS?

1. Planning and Analysis
ArcGIS gives you the ability to data analysis for better execution of plans. This might include site selection or route optimization

2. Operational Awareness
ArcGIS enables you to monitor, track and report on day to day events within the organization.

3. Field Data Collection
ArcGIS enables you to take your maps into the field on any device. Information can be accessed online or offline.

4. Asset Management
ArcGIS integrates with business systems, including IBM Cognos, SAP Business Objects, and Microsoft Office and SharePoint, to track the financial performance of your assets.

5. Community Engagement
ArcGIS enables the public to collaborate on projects that can improve communities. Web GIS