ArcGIS Online

The Power of Partnered Collaboration in ArcGIS Online

This article was originally published on September 29, 2023 and has been updated.

ArcGIS Online allows you to share maps and other geospatial content to collaborate with others. As a member of an ArcGIS Online organization, you can share content with all or specific members of your organization, or with the public, depending on your needs.

But what if you want to collaborate with another ArcGIS Online organization? For example, you might work for an emergency response agency that works closely with other local and state agencies to protect and support people and land impacted by a natural disaster. You and other members of your agency and partner agencies need to be able to share and edit maps, apps, and other content to respond to the emergency quickly, efficiently, and securely.

Firefighters at a wildfire site

That’s where partnered collaboration comes in.

What is partnered collaboration? 

A partnered collaboration is a way to establish a formal relationship between two ArcGIS Online organizations. In other words, creating a partnered collaboration establishes trust between organizations so that content can be shared quickly and securely. In a partnered collaboration, participating organizations use groups and member management tools to collaboratively add and edit content such as web maps and apps.  

Partnered collaboration section of the Collaborations page

Collaboration coordinators

Administrators from both organizations in a partnered collaboration designate collaboration coordinators to represent their respective organizations in the collaboration. In this way, collaboration coordinators are the liaisons between the ArcGIS Online organizations participating in a partnered collaboration. They allow members from both organizations to have control over group membership and capabilities, as described in the following section. 

Benefits of partnered collaboration

You may be thinking: But I can already share content externally. So why do I need a partnered collaboration?  

Yes, you can share content with members of other ArcGIS Online organizations using groups, without establishing a partnered collaboration. However, partnered collaboration expands how organizations can work together by unlocking capabilities not supported through regular group sharing. These additional capabilities include the following: 

Set up a partnered collaboration 

The previous sections of this article explained what a partnered collaboration is and why it’s such a useful capability. So how do you set up a partnered collaboration?  

The steps in the following sections use the emergency response scenario referenced earlier this article to walk you through the process of setting up, using, and ending a partnered collaboration. In this scenario, a wildfire event is encroaching on the fictional city of Montaña Seca. A fictional emergency wildfire response agency called Wildfire Command Corp wants to collaborate with officials from the City of Montaña Seca to respond to the emergency.  

Note: Although a partnered collaboration is a relationship between two ArcGIS Online organizations, each organization can establish up to 20 partnered collaborations with other organizations. 

For a demo of the workflow outlined below in this article, check out the following video:

Step 1 – Create a partnered collaboration 

To create the collaboration, the organization initiating the partnered collaboration (in this scenario, the Wildfire Command Corp) must invite the other organization (in this scenario, the City of Montaña Seca) to join the collaboration. The collaboration becomes active once the following occur:

Note: To set up this partnered collaboration, the administrator of the Wildfire Command Corp must have privileges to manage the organization’s collaborations. 

1. After signing in to the Wildfire Command Corp ArcGIS Online organization, click Organization > Settings > Collaborations. In the Partnered section, click Start a collaboration.

2. Enter the home page URL for the organization you are collaborating with (the City of Montaña Seca) and modify the email message that is sent with your collaboration request. Click Start collaboration. 

Start a collaboration window with City of Montaña Seca home page URL and default message entered

A collaboration request email is sent to administrators of the City of Montaña Seca organization.  

3. Click Set up collaboration coordinators and select up to 20 members to represent the Wildfire Command Corp organization in the partnered collaboration. Click Save when finished. 

Wildfire Command Corp members selected as collaboration coordinators

An administrator of the City of Montaña Seca organization must now accept the collaboration request and designate collaboration coordinators to represent the organization in the collaboration. To do so, they must click Organization > Settings > Collaborations > Partnered, click Review collaboration requests, and click Accept & configure 

Pending collaborations window showing received request from Wildfire Command Corp

Note: Only members with the role of Administrator or Facilitator, who have their profile visibility set to Everyone (Public) or Organization, can be collaboration coordinators. 

Then, the administrator from the City of Montaña Seca can allow the Wildfire Command Corp to search for members of the City of Montaña Seca organization.  

Confirmation window for granting access to the Wildfire Command Corp to search for members of the City of Montaña Seca

After that, the administrator must choose collaboration coordinators from the City of Montaña Seca organization to represent the organization in the collaboration. 

Partnered collaboration section with Wildfire Command Corp listed as existing collaboration and two collaboration coordinators listed

The partnered collaboration becomes active when the collaboration request has been accepted and collaboration coordinators from both organizations have been designated. The next step is to create collaboration groups. 

Step 2 – Create a collaboration group 

Once you’ve established the partnered collaboration and both participating organizations have designated collaboration coordinators, members with group creation privileges from both organizations can start creating collaboration groups. These groups will be used to collaborate with other members of the partnered collaboration.  

1. Ensure you have privileges to create groups. 

Note: If you want all group members to be able to edit any items in the group, you must also have the privilege to create groups with update capabilities. 

2. At the top of the site, click Groups. On the My Groups tab, click Create group. 

Create group button on My Groups tab

3. Add a thumbnail image, name, summary, and tags for the group. Configure the group membership settings.  

Who can be in this group setting with Partnered collaboration and my organization’s members only option selected
Group designations section with Shared update option turned on

4. Click Save to create the group. 

Once you’ve saved the group, the group overview page appears with badges showing that it is a partnered collaboration group and, if you turned on the Shared update toggle button, a shared update group.

Group overview page for Wildfire Command Corp collaboration group with short description and Shared Update and Partnered badges

5. Repeat the above steps to create additional collaboration groups as needed. 

Now that you have a collaboration group, the next step is adding members to it. 

Step 3 – Add members to the group 

Once a collaboration group is created, the group owner can start inviting collaboration coordinators and other members to it. You can also promote collaboration coordinators to group managers so they can invite members from their respective organizations to the group. 

1. On the group overview page, click Invite members. Under Filters, turn on the Include this and partnered organizations’ members toggle button. 

Add members list filtered to show collaboration coordinators from both organizations

By default, only the collaboration coordinators are displayed, along with their organization affiliation.  

2. Select the collaboration coordinators you want to add to the group. 

Add members list with all collaboration coordinators selected

Collaboration coordinators can be added to groups without sending an invitation, so the corresponding check box is checked by default.

Add organization members and collaboration coordinators without requiring confirmation check box selected

3. Click Add members to group. 

4. On the group overview page, click the Members tab. 

The collaboration coordinators you added are listed, along with their group role and affiliation. 

Group Members tab with collaboration coordinators listed with their group role and affiliation

The next step is to promote some of these collaboration coordinators to group managers so that they can add members from their respective organizations to the group and modify group settings. 

In this example, the group owner from the Wildfire Command Corp will promote collaboration coordinators from the City of Montaña Seca to group managers. 

5. Select the collaboration coordinators you want to promote to group managers. Click Update member’s group role. 

City of Montaña Seca collaboration coordinators selected and Update member’s group role option indicated

6. In the Update group role window, select Manager and click Save. 

Update group role window with Manager option selected

Now the group owner and managers can add members from their respective organizations to the group without sending an invitation. They can click Invite members on the group page, select members to add to the group, and click Add members to group. 

Add members list with two City of Montaña Seca members selected

Tip: The Members tab of the group page has an Affiliation filter you can use to filter the list of members to show members of your organization or the partner organization. 

Affiliation filter indicating four members from My Organization (City of Montaña Seca ) and three members from Wildfire Command Corp

7. Repeat the above steps to add members to other collaboration groups as needed. 

Step 4 – Add content to the group 

Now that members of both organizations have been added to the collaboration group, you’re ready to add content to it. The content you add to the group is automatically shared with the other members in the group. If the group is designated as a shared update group, items that are shared with the group can be edited by all group members. Each organization in a partnered collaboration continues to own and manage its content while allowing the other group members to view and contribute content. Members can also use shared items to create content, such as maps and apps.  

1. On the group page, click the Content tab and click Add items to group 

Content tab of Wildfire Command Corp collaboration group page

2. Select the items and click Add items. 

Add items to group window with two footprint items selected

The new items are now listed on the Content tab of the group page and are shared with all members of the group.  

Members of both organizations in the partnered collaboration can access and collaborate on the items shared with the group. For example, the City of Montaña Seca can use the group to share critical building footprints with the Wildfire Command Corp to help mitigate fire damage in the city. 

Group Content tab with newly added items displayed

3. Repeat the above steps for other groups in the collaboration as needed. 

Step 5 – Suspend and end a partnered collaboration 

There may come a time when the partnered collaboration is no longer needed. For example, a collaboration that is set up to respond to an emergency, as in the case of the Wildfire Command Corp and the City of Montaña Seca, is not needed once the emergency is over. When this happens, you can suspend and end the collaboration.  

Suspending a collaboration effectively pauses the partnered collaboration to prevent participating organizations from continuing to collaborate. This gives you time to clean up items and members in the collaboration. After suspending a partnered collaboration, either organization can choose to resume or end the collaboration.  

When you suspend a collaboration, the following occurs: 

When you end a collaboration, the following occurs: 

To suspend and end a partnered collaboration, you must have privileges to manage your organization’s collaborations. Either of the participating organizations can suspend and end a partnered collaboration. 

1. Click Organization > Settings > Collaborations. In the Partnered section, click the Options button beside the existing collaboration and click Suspend collaboration. 

Partnered collaboration section with City of Montaña Seca listed as existing collaboration and Suspend collaboration option indicated

2. In the Suspend collaboration window, review the impacts of suspending a collaboration. 

3. Check the check box confirming that you have notified the partner organization that you are suspending the collaboration and click Suspend collaboration.

Suspend collaboration window with information about impacts of suspending a collaboration and confirmation check box checked

While a collaboration is suspended, administrators from both participating organizations can choose to remove their members, groups, and content from the collaboration. Either organization can resume the collaboration at any time. 

4. To end the collaboration,click Organization > Settings > Collaborations. In the Partnered section, click the Options button beside the suspended collaboration and click End collaboration. 

Note: Either organization can end the collaboration once it’s been suspended. 

City of Montaña Seca listed as existing collaboration and End collaboration option indicated

5. Review the list of groups that are set to allow members from partnered organizations only, as well as the members and content that will be removed from the groups. Click Next. 

End collaboration window with information about impacts on groups and members of City of Montaña Seca

6. Check the box stating that you have notified the collaborating organization that you want to end the collaboration. Optionally, modify the email message that is sent after ending the collaboration. Click End collaboration. 

Final End collaboration confirmation window

When a collaboration ends, each organization can only see the collaboration groups they own with their content and their organization’s members. They may choose to delete the group once the collaboration ends. 

Learn more 

This article introduced you to the concept of partnered collaboration and explained why partnered collaboration is useful for ArcGIS Online organizations. In addition, the article covered the basics of setting up, using, and ending a partnered collaboration.  

Ready to learn more? Check out the following topics in the ArcGIS Online help documentation: 

A note about distributed collaboration

Two types of collaboration are supported in ArcGIS Online: distributed collaboration and partnered collaboration. This article focuses on partnered collaboration. Distributed collaboration can be used for many workflows involving ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise, including making data visible across different organizations or managing field data collections. To learn more, see Distributed collaborations.

About the author

Jennifer Wrightsell-Hughes is a product writer on the ArcGIS Online team. She has a degree in Journalism and over 20 years of experience creating and editing content, including product documentation, tutorials, blog articles, guides, and videos.

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Next Article

Changing the Map Projection in ArcGIS Online

Read this article