ArcGIS Urban

The Building Blocks for Staging Public Engagement With ArcGIS Urban

The Building Blocks for Staging Public Engagement With Arcgis Urban

ArcGIS Urban is a foundational building block for creating content for collaboration. With Urban, planners can generate 2D and 3D scenarios and share these scenes with the public as part of a larger planning initiative. These scenes can be used in conjunction with ArcGIS Hub and ArcGIS StoryMaps to create a richer engagement with your community.

While each of these products can work independently to support various parts of the planning process, together they can create a complete experience that informs, visualizes, and generates feedback as part of one coordinated effort.

In what follows, we provide a brief overview of these different tools and how they can be used together.

Create a landing page with ArcGIS Hub

Planners can kickstart their plan’s digital engagement strategy by sharing their Urban scenes for feedback using an ArcGIS Hub initiative. Every initiative includes a configurable mobile-responsive website template that enables you to bring on collaborators and make your content discoverable to a public audience.

A picture of a project web page for South Dorchester Ave in Boston.
No coding experience is necessary to configure your initiative site with your own branding and to adapt the layout to meet your needs.

You can get started by creating your own initiative like the one we created in the example above. Or you can select a template, such as the Encourage Project Feedback initiative template which includes a pre-designed site to help you get started.

Using the initiative’s site, you can create a landing site for your plan that outlines its purpose and schedule. By setting the stage for a public audience, you are providing them with the context they need to give meaningful feedback on your scenes.

Note: All content is automatically shared privately with your initiative’s core team which is just you until you have added another collaborator to the group. This means that you can keep your site and its content private until you are ready to share it with a larger audience.

Separate plan elements into pages

As you move through the initial phases of your planning process, you can update your landing site with added pages.

Pages are useful for providing people with a place to learn more about key elements of the plan, without affecting the design and flow of the home site.

In our example landing site for the Dorchester Ave Plan, we’ve added menu links in the site’s header that correspond to each step of the plan: Our Process, Current Context, Goals, Share Ideas and Get Involved. Most of these menu links point to a Hub page, so that people can easily peruse topics of interest without having to scroll the length of the home site.

Close up of the Share Ideas page.
We use the Share Ideas page to provide links to more pages that include 3D scenes and surveys for feedback. This workflow is outlined in the Generating feedback section.

By separating project goals and topic areas into pages, we’ve kept the essentials on the landing site and made it easier for people to navigate our content.

Make complex analyses and data easier to understand with StoryMaps

In addition to pages, you can add menu links to other ArcGIS items and external resources. ArcGIS StoryMaps, in particular, provides planners with a unique way to display complex information, such as research findings and analyses, in a more user-friendly format.

In the Dorchester Ave Plan example, baseline research and analysis are captured as Current Context. This step of the process is an ideal use case for this medium because we can show the study area, define methodology, and explain findings alongside comparative maps, illustrations, and 3D scenes.

A page showing the project context.

You can also use a StoryMap to create a digital version of your plan’s executive summary to support its traditional PDF (Portable Document Format) or static document version.

For example, this StoryMap outlines the executive summary for the South Boston Dorchester Avenue Plan. You can create something similar by taking this ArcGIS Learn Lesson.

The executive summary of the project.
The executive summary of the project.

This brief and mobile-responsive StoryMap neatly introduces the public to the visions, goals, and outcomes of the plan using bookmarks and a side-car layout structure.

Create a call to action

When you’re ready to share your initiative’s site publicly, you can encourage your new audience to engage with your content by adding a call-to-action.

This simple button prompts people to sign up for a community account which is free to them and included in your organization’s subscription to ArcGIS Hub Premium. A community account enables anyone to take part in targeted surveys, sign up to attend events, and subscribe for email updates from your team.

Tip: Updates from your team can include announcements for a new event, scene, or survey.

Using Web App Builder

Using Web App Builder, you can quickly create an app that enables people to click and move through a scene’s slides.

First, create a web app of your scene.

  1. Sign in to your organization’s ArcGIS Online home page using the same credentials you use to sign in to ArcGIS Urban.
  2. Find the scene item and click to open its items details page.
  3. Click Share and choose Create a web app. You can use the Simple Scene Viewer template or create your own.

The web app will generate your scene with a row of slides at the bottom which people can click through. Recreate this process for each of your scenes before adding a feedback page.

Using ArcGIS StoryMaps

Alternatively, you can create a StoryMap instead of using Web App Builder.

To get started, generate an embeddable link for your Urban model. Then, sign in to ArcGIS StoryMaps and click New Story.

An image of Andrew Square in the landing page.
An image of Andrew Square in the landing page.

Next, embed the scene and select a slide to highlight. Using a StoryMap component of your choice, add a link to the survey. When you’re ready, follow steps provided in the next section to create a feedback page.

Add a feedback page

After you’ve created apps or StoryMaps, create a new page for each of these items. You can use the App card to embed the web app and story map you just created next to a configured Survey card as shown in the example below.

Add your layout to your Shared Ideas.
Add your layout to your Shared Ideas.

Once you’ve finished designing the layout of each page, you can add it to your Share Ideas page using a Gallery card.

A map showing the eight project locations.
A 2D map showing the eight project locations. Below, people can click Explore Project on a gallery card to navigate to a page designed to highlight one of the eight scenes open for feedback.

Additional considerations

Your ArcGIS content, including your sites and pages, can be edited at any time, giving you the flexibility to make updates and enhancements as your project grows.

As your plan is finalized, for example, you may decide to modify the call-to-action from your homepage. You can also update content geared towards generating feedback with data visualizations showing how public comments impacted decisions about the plan.

To learn more, see the following resources:

ArcGIS Urban: An introduction

ArcGIS StoryMaps

Creating sites and sharing data with ArcGIS Hub

About the authors

Eric Wittner is a Senior Product Manager focused on Procedural Technology and Smart Cities at Esri. He works to expand public understanding of how Esri's 3D products can enhance an organizations products and process, and help bring them success. He is focused on delivering domain specific tools to support urban planning and design. Having spent six years as part of the 3D software development team, he has an intimate understanding of Esri’s 3D technology. From his time as the product engineering lead for geodesign he understands how Esri's tools can be used to support interdisciplinary decision making in a variety of fields. As a thought leader at Esri, he helps shapes the vision and direction of Esri's software, data models, and solutions development through interaction with customers and the translation of their requirements into useful technology.


As a product marketer for ArcGIS Urban, Katie enjoys sharing product announcements and best practices with the Esri community.

Jay is a Product Engineer for Civic Technology working on ArcGIS Hub. He works on tools for community engagement and collaboration.

Jennifer is passionate about doing in-depth user experience research to design beautiful urban experiences. She believes all technology is truly about unlocking our potential both as humans and as a community, and the first step is doing rich research that yields deep insight into both the users/customers/humans and the tools they need.

Notify of
1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Next Article

Visualize your Mission Responders Activity with Tracklines

Read this article