Interactive maps are becoming increasingly important in today’s digital environment. Regardless of whether you are looking to highlight your university campus or provide a detailed outline of your municipality, you have to emphasize both user-friendliness and accuracy.
Accomplishing both can be difficult. Most mapping services are either incredibly accurate and detailed but difficult to use, or vice versa. A user-friendly map may work well to attract students to your campus or visitors to your city, but not nearly as well for planning purposes internally. And of course, you don’t want to put a raw map that’s difficult to use in front of your external audiences. Fortunately, through Concept3D’s ArcGIS integration, you can accomplish both at the highest level.
That integration is especially evident on college campuses. A school’s facilities team tends to use a functional map for maintenance, construction and other highly detailed purposes. Admissions, of course, needs an interactive map and virtual tour for remote recruiting. That, in turn, results in the school purchasing two maps for these two departments.
Facilities typically uses ArcGIS data from Esri, while admissions goes with a more user-focused vendor or creates the map internally. Through our integration, both can get what they need. In fact, the Concept3D and Esri software platforms work together to produce an attractive, mobile-friendly and “one-size fits all” interactive map that fulfills a wide range of teams needs.
What is Esri, and Where is it Used?
Esri is the company behind ArcGIS, a leading mapping and spatial analytics software. According to its website, more than 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies use the software for their GIS (geography information systems) needs.
The maps and analytics that this software yields are extraordinarily complex and detailed. In fact, that’s exactly why their use tends to be heavily catered to specific fields or tasks. For example, geographers or professionals involved in facilities management benefit greatly from ArcGIS software because their maps offer so much detail that the user can see even the smallest cracks in a sidewalk.
You can learn more about Esri and ArcGIS here. On the same website, you will also find a number of examples of ArcGIS maps in action, such as Job Accessibility in Major US Cities, Street Cleanliness In California, a Portland Bike Map, and Drought In The US.
All of these examples make one thing very clear. While this level of detail offers a wide range of benefits to specific professionals, it is naturally not a marketing or external communication format. A campus visitor, for instance, would probably not care about an individual crack in the sidewalk nearly as much as how to find parking and get to the right buildings. Its use is purely mechanical, and typically deployed internally and for professional use.
Understanding the Concept3D and ESRI Integration
When user-friendliness is the goal of your campus map, chances are you turn to one of the many vendors offering conversions of Google Maps, OSM and other processes into a visual representation of the area. But in the process, you lose the type of accuracy Esri can provide.
That’s why our integration with the software is so important. ArcGIS might be complex, but Concept3D has been able to integrate its own platform with that data. As a result, we can use our user-friendly interface built on a platform of highly accurate mapping points, which leads to a variety of uses.
To stay with the higher education example, the resulting solution benefits a number of individual departments on campus. Marketing and admissions need a public facing, interactive map that is mobile-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and easy-to-use. This map needs to convey the beauty and excitement of your campus to students, parents and others.
Facilities (and other departments like student housing), on the other hand, require a map that offers highly detailed visuals and analytics; aesthetically pleasing visuals are secondary. Our integration with Esri and ArcGIS provides you with the ability to bridge the gap that has required colleges and other organizations with similar needs to learn, adopt and maintain two different interactive map software systems. Concept3D’s platform has private layers and unlimited user with dynamic permission settings to maintain a public and internal map versions.
The integration allows internal and external facing teams to be able to focus on their goals rather than map development and maintenance. One of our clients in fact initially attempted to use their ArcGIS to build an interactive map for prospective students but found the software too intricate to suit their needs. After missing several internal deadlines and requiring resources outside their own department, they reached out to us to help them complete their map. We were able to use the same accuracy they desired by going through Esri, but still build a product that they could easily use for their own promotional purposes while maintaining the utility for the other departments.
Seeing the Integration in Action
All of the above might still seem theoretical. Fortunately, for one of our case studies, the integration described in this article has resulted in real benefits. In fact, all eight Indiana University campuses have made use of the Esri data feed to unite their campus maintenance, function and marketing.
The Esri feeds offer a massive amount of data. Concept3D allows you to select the Esri data you wish to feature and display while maintaining the other data for important internal use. The current IU Bloomington campus map shows that despite the immense data fed into the model through ArcGIS, user friendliness does not suffer for external audiences.
Additionally, the integration of these two software platforms allows any relevant changes to be pushed to the user-facing map in real-time, as they occur on the Esri side. Now, at these campuses, facilities managers and admissions officers alike can use the same map for managing campus repairs, helping tour groups find parking, showing construction and road closures and more, simply by toggling overlays and functionality.
Of course, the use of this type of multi-dimensional map is not limited to college campuses. Concept3D has worked with several municipalities to accomplish similar goals. Here, the same applies: internal planning and maintenance departments can take advantage of the accuracy provided by ArcGIS, while the municipality can use the map to guide visitors and residents to parking, parks, and much more.
Because of integrations like this one, Concept3D has positioned itself to become an all-in-one package that meets the interactive map needs of universities, public entities, and more. The unique combination of internal and external purposes can finally be reconciled through integration.