ArcGIS Online

Introducing Zone Lookup

Web mapping applications can help community members easily answer questions about their location. What resources are available in my county? Is my house near a park? What school would my children go to if I purchased a house in a specific neighborhood? A new configurable app Zone Lookup was added to ArcGIS Online during the June 2019 update which will help community members answer questions about their location in reference to zones. Zone Lookup is a responsive app that is optimized on a variety of screen sizes and devices, allowing users to easily interact and view valuable information from any device.  When describing zones in the context of this application, zones are polygon layers that represent a specific characteristic, like flood zones, school districtselectoral precincts, service areas, etc. This article will demonstrate how to configure the application to enable your users to quickly answer questions about zone data. 

Results of a searched address in the zone lookup app.

The Zone Lookup app requires that your user inputs a location. They can search for an address or definthe location by clicking on the map or using the geolocation service on their mobile device. The app will determine if the location falls within (intersects) the available zones or not.  If the searched location is within the zone, information about zones (Search Results) will be returned, if not you will be notified the location is outside of the zoneThis may seem complicated to explain with words, but the user interaction is simple. All the user needs to do is input their address and view the search results. Let’s look at how to configure a Zone Lookup app.  

Step 1. Create a map 

The map must contain one or more polygons of your zone dataFor this example, three polygon layers showing High School, Middle School, and Elementary School Districts have been added to the map used in the app.

Take time to configure the pop-up. The information returned about the zones comes directly from the popup in your map.  When creating the pop-up ensure that relevant information is displayed in a way that your intended users would understand. In the app, the zone title will be the popup title and zone description will be the popup information. The image below shows the map pop-up next to the zone information from the Zone Lookup app. In this example, attributes from the results layers are constructed into a sentence to make the information easy to understand. 

High School boundary pop-up in the web map and High School zone information in the Zone Lookup app. 

Chose meaningful symbology and review it at multiple scales. When users visit your Zone Lookup app, they will start at full extent, when location is searched the map will zoom to the Search Results.  Consider transparency, as zones can cover a large area. There may be instances where you want your users to see additional layers for reference or be able to view details like street names in the basemap.

Note. There is a configuration option to hide layers until a search is performed.  

Step 2. Pick the Zone Lookup Template 

Once your map created and saved, click Share in the Map Viewer and click Create a Web App.  Select Zone Lookup as your app.  

(Tip: Z is the last letter in the alphabet and apps are listed in alphabetical order, so this app is the last in the list. To quickly find the app, scroll directly to the bottom of the Select a Configurable dialog or type Z in the search.)

Zone Lookup selected in the Configurable Apps tab of the Create a New Web App window.

Step 3. Configure the application 

The Zone Lookup app has a variety of configurable options, the information below will highlight a few along with examples of configured apps. 

General Options 

On the General tab, set the title, and the onboarding text for the app.  Onboarding text by default provides generic instructions for how users should interact with the app. Configuring your onboarding text that is specific to your app and data can help provide context and call to action for your users.  

Customized text for the onboarding panel.

Search Setup Options 

The Search setup tab is where the initial search tools are configured. You should specify the lookup layers to search and display in the results. You can also choose which search locator service that users will use to determine their location, like the world geocoding service, a custom service or a layer included in the map. 

Select any layers you want returned in the search results.  By default, all layers in the map are returned.  Check off layers you don’t want returned in the results.   

Two of three search layers selected in the search results to be returned.

Configure the search locators used by the app to provide a clear searching experience. To prevent users from selecting a source before searching, configure the app to only use one locator source. In this example, additional locators available in the organization were disabled,  the world Geocoding service was configured to be the only available search within the map. This way users can only search for locations relevant for this area. 

Sometimes layers of overlapping zones look confusing. If the display of all the potential resulting layers is confusing, consider selecting the option to hide the layers when the app loads. This way a blank map will appear when the app loads and the layers will only appear when the search results are selected, as shown in this example.

Two Zone Lookup apps, one with feature layers visible and one showing searched address with only the intersected zone appearing.

An additional configuration option exists to use a map polygon as search geometry.  Polygon search is used in this example, showing features within the selected zone.

Search Results Options 

The search results tab provides options to configure how results are returned in the app. There are three options to show unmatched features; by default they are hidden, or you can show them in grayscale or sepia. When search results are returned, you have the option to include custom text before, and after to provide context for the search and next steps. Configure a message to indicate to users when no results are returned. This way users will see that there were no results, instead of just having nothing returned in the results.  Below is an example of custom before and after text.  

Results from a school attendance boundary with custom text before and after the results.

Map Options 

Map options enable you to add mapping tools to the map as desired. You can choose to include navigation buttons, a legend, scalebar and basemap toggle so users can interact and understand the map. 

In some cases, the map isn’t required to answer the users questions. For a simplified app without a map, you can select the hide map in application setting. Your users will still be able to answer the spatial questions from the layers in the map, but the results will be returned as text, without a visual display of the map. 

Information panel of a Zone Lookup app without a map.

Try out the World Time Zone Lookup app to use an app without a map.  

About the author

Beth is a Product Engineer on the ArcGIS Online team.

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