Four Building Blocks for Creating a Successful Smart Community

Esri holds the rare position of having worked across the community spectrum for more than four decades with governments of all sizes as well as businesses, NGOs, start-ups, academic institutions, students, and citizens. Millions of people use Esri’s mapping and spatial analysis capabilities every day. Through the experiences gained in these customer engagements, Esri has created a path for communities of all sizes to work toward becoming smart communities.

Step 1: Start with a World-Class GIS Platform

The first step is to adopt Esri’s ArcGIS platform. The ArcGIS platform provides a scalable solution that is designed to meet the needs of all stakeholders. GIS professionals who craft spatial analyses, maps, and apps have all the rich desktop, server, and online tools available for data creation, analysis, and sharing. This valuable content can be delivered across an organization to anyone, on any device, anywhere, anytime. Colleagues who consume maps and data can easily discover and use what they need, then add their own intelligence to the maps in a collaborative online environment. Interactive maps and data can be shared across the organization or externally, increasing the reach and impact of all contributors. Live map services enable online maps and apps to display real-time data, which is invaluable for smart community collaboration.
The Esri ArcGIS platform includes tools for making map services and data open to the public — citizens, start-ups, businesses, academia, and NGOs. As a comprehensive platform, ArcGIS integrates with business systems, including IBM, SAP, and Microsoft.
The ArcGIS platform is suitable for organizations of any size. Small organizations can start focused and grow confidently, knowing the platform will be able to accommodate more complex or large-scale needs.

Step 2: Create a Location Strategy

It’s important to know where to start and have a clear vision of how to tackle government and community goals. Creating a location strategy provides a road map for how the organization can best use the ArcGIS platform and lays out the steps to achieve desired goals.
One of the most powerful aspects of the ArcGIS platform is that it can provide a comprehensive view of government services and enable cross-departmental solutions to community-wide problems. However, some governments might find that it is necessary to prioritize the needs of individual departments in order to achieve more focused goals such as smart infrastructure, smart buildings, healthy communities, or safe cities. Once these departmental goals have been achieved, the organization can build on its initial success and expand data sharing and solutions across departments. Having a location strategy ensures that goals are clearly articulated.
Based on experience working with organizations, Esri has created best practices guides for implementing the ArcGIS platform and formulating a location strategy. Esri’s Professional Services organization is available to help should organizations need more assistance.

Step 3: Provide Real Solutions That Add Value

Through its work with governments of all sizes, Esri developed more than 150 ready-to-use map and application templates for state and local governments. The maps and applications are part of the ArcGIS for Local Government and ArcGIS for State Government collections and are included in the ArcGIS platform.
These solutions are designed to help local governments meet important objectives: improve the operation of utility networks, analyze the value of land and associated improvements, maintain right-of-way assets, develop and share public safety response plans, promote sustainable communities, and conduct open elections.
ArcGIS for Local Government is free to ArcGIS users, easily configured, fully documented and supported, open source, and extensible. Governments that have the Esri ArcGIS platform can immediately deploy these apps and maps.
The applications and templates can be localized and customized to meet specific needs of the community. Organizations can customize the applications themselves, or they can get assistance from a valuable network of experts, including Esri partners and consultants, fellow Esri software users, and Esri Professional Services.
The City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for example, has implemented multiple application templates to help its citizens. The city used the My Government Services template to help established and prospective residents find services such as sanitation curbside pickup schedules, public school assignments, and the location of emergency facilities — complete with turn-by-turn directions. The city also implemented an application that allows citizens to locate city parks and recreation opportunities.

“Had we not used the ArcGIS for Local Government template, the development effort would have taken months.”
— Ian Wint, GIS Manager for the City of Fort Lauderdale

Step 4: Develop Relationships within the Esri Partner Network

Esri has the breadth and depth of GIS capabilities to meet the needs of many organizations. When a specialized solution is needed, Esri has a large partner community that provides applications to meet the diverse needs of many industries and workflows. Esri’s partner community delivers sophisticated and focused solutions built on ArcGIS for permitting, crime analysis, asset management, climate analysis, and much more.

Create a Smarter Future

A smart future begins today, with a smart response to changes in population, the economy, and the weather. It begins with the adoption of essential technologies including real-time sensor data, 3D analysis, and open data, all used and shared within GIS. It begins with more collaboration and transparency from government leaders. It begins with citizens, businesses, NGOs, and academia working together to make and implement innovative solutions.
A smart community is a place where people feel safe, healthy, happy, and motivated to improve. It’s a place where kids grow up and then want to stay to build their own businesses and raise their own families. It’s a place where people want to live, work, and play, a place that is resilient and sustainable because its citizens are not only informed but also involved. A smart community is your community — with the right technology and aspirations. Every community can be a smart community.

Let Us Help You Get Started

Esri’s smart community experts want to help you get started. Send an e-mail to so we can help make your smart community vision a reality. You can also learn more at

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