ArcGIS Hub

A Hub for Collaboration and Engagement

Engagement Matters – Part 1

This article is the first part of a four part series on collaboration and engagement.

Part 1

A Hub for
& Engagement

Part 2

with Open Data

Part 3

with Trust

Part 4


Click on any of the articles above to jump forward or backward


Engagement is the science of connecting with a community of people that need to know about a challenge and have their voices heard.  Is your city starting a major pothole repair initiative and you need feedback from residents about what areas should be prioritized?  Perhaps you lead a group of volunteers that monitor endangered species and you need to coordinate their efforts and show their impact.  Or maybe you’re trying to collaborate with staff within your organization around GIS initiatives to share knowledge and technical resources.  Regardless of your use case, and however you define what your community is, collaboration and engagement are keys to your success.

Common communities

Effective collaboration and engagement starts with clear initiatives – or large projects – and they always involve stakeholders.  What varies from initiative to initiative are the number of different stakeholder communities that your initiative affects.  If you have a pothole repair initiative, you might envision your stakeholder communities including city leaders and residents.  That’s a good start, but you should also consider:

Hub communities

This is just a sampling of the broad types of communities you might encounter when thinking through your initiative’s impact prior to engaging people.  Each community has its own unique perspective, capabilities, and values that impact how it perceives your initiative and might interact with you.

Bringing communities together

With all this complexity across communities it’s critical to have a place where people can gather.  In our modern, fragmented, and fast-paced world we can’t rely only on the town square or local pub model to connect with people.  We need a digital presence, a Hub, where people can have fact-based conversations, share their opinions and preferences, all on their own schedule.  The most effective Hubs always include:

These Hub characteristics help to guide your communities through information in ways that create meaning and build trust.

Creating meaning and building trust

When you build content in your Hub, you’ll often rely heavily on data.  The challenge is that data is inherently difficult for most people to understand and make use of unless it’s organized and made approachable.  This difficulty is an opportunity for you.  When you make data approachable by organizing it into a Map, Dashboard, Chart, or Project, your stakeholders will be more likely to engage with you.  The clearer your message and the more direct you are, the faster you can build trust.

This trust is crucial when you offer stakeholders a way to submit Surveys, engage in Discussions, join the digital Community with a named user account to enable trusted contributions, and even to participate in community outreach Events.

An analogy:  the Public Park

Imagine the public park near where you live.  You know this park and so do your neighbors.  It hosts a variety of civic activities throughout the day and the year and supports different uses by different people in the community.  Your Hub can be the digital equivalent of this.  One place for everyone to gather and interact how they want, but with a set of common goals:  fitness, play, and community.

But how did your park come to be and how will it evolve over time?  The best park planners engage community members– via a Hub – to plan improvements that the community wants to see.

Engagement is continual

Just like a park evolves over time, so too does engagement.  It’s a continual process of showing results, getting feedback, doing work, and over again.  A park is a fixture in the community and serves as a place that has something for everyone.  Your Hub can be the same resource, now and in the future.

About the authors

Nick O'Day is a Senior Consultant on Esri's Professional Services team where he leads complex ArcGIS implementations that drive insight and action through data. He also hosts Esri's "Engagement Matters" podcast where he talks to experts that are setting new standards in collaboration and engagement. Before joining Esri in 2022, Nick worked for 18 years in data analytics supporting local government, consulting firms, and startup companies using ArcGIS as a Chief Data Officer and GIS Manager. When Nick isn't GIS'ing, he's usually cooking, eating, or exploring something new in sunny Los Angeles.


Maria Jordan is a senior product marketer at Esri specializing in ArcGIS products and apps designed to improve community engagement, communication, collaboration, and data sharing. She has been at Esri for 20+ years in a variety of marketing roles and is focused on creating practical resources that convey best practices and customer successes to help organizations achieve their goals.

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