In state and local government, there can be a mix-up in people’s perception of ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS for Local Government. Sometimes people think they are exactly the same…or that there is only ArcGIS Online. When I introduce to them another GIS tool, like GISinc OneView, I find that I need to take some time to really explain all the differences and how all of these pieces connect.

Perhaps it’s time to share with you how each of these tools are different - because they absolutely are. Not only are they different, each solution can be an important ingredient to your GIS success - a point I will explain in my next follow-up article. For now, let’s explore some ways you can look at each of these tools and better clarify things.

ArcGIS Online is kind of like Super Mario Bros. 3

So maybe I’m stretching it by even loosely comparing ArcGIS Online to a circa 1990 video game, but bear with me. When you look at a video game like Super Mario 3, the game itself is essentially the portal that takes you from a blank TV screen to actively participating in the game, fighting Koopa Paratroopas, Hammer Brothers, and Piranha Plants with other players.


Think of ArcGIS Online as your portal into all of your web map/app products or offerings. It comes with advanced administrative tools for users to:

  • Manage groups
  • Allow members of groups to create and share their content
  • Make it possible for organizations and their web map/app products to be discoverable

ArcGIS Online gets you and others in the game.

ArcGIS for Local Government is like Toad’s House

For all of you who have never played Super Mario 3 before and are unfamiliar with Mario or “Toad’s House”, this analogy should still be very simple. In every level of Super Mario, there was a mushroom-like house where a player could go to get certain tools to help them win the game. This house was known as Toad’s House and it was invaluable to players, especially the ones who really needed goodies like “Super Star” that made the player temporarily invincible, run faster, and do flips in the air. ArcGIS for Local Government is kind of like Toad’s House in that it’s your access point to get the tools you need.


Think of ArcGIS for Local Government as the industry standard data model designed by local governments to support the most common workflows in local government like parcel editing or address data management. Or it can support the targeted and focused web apps like Polling Location, Parks and Recreation Finder, or My Government Services. By adopting the underlying data model, local governments have access to free application templates that support their workflows and are supported by Esri.

There Is No Clever Analogy For GISinc OneView

I tried to think of a great Mario analogy for GISinc OneView, but I’ve got nothing. But fear not, it’s pretty easy to see how OneView fits into all of this.

Think of GISinc OneView as the traditional viewer for organizations that have mature and seasoned GIS users. These are the users who are familiar with traditional GIS tools such as advanced searches, redlining, measure, print-to-layout, etc. GISinc OneView is for these folks. But what if you’ve got some stuff that needs to be accessed by non-GIS users? OneView allows these folks the ability to access and analyze GIS data. Best of all, GISinc OneView is mobile device agnostic, developed with responsive design for laptops, tablets, and smart phones alike – which is part of why we gave it the ever-so-clever name “OneView”.

So these are some great ways to look at ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS for Local Government, and GISinc OneView. I always find that the quirkier the analogy, the easy it is to remember. Actually the quirkier anything is, the easier to remember. I’m already working on my next article that will be going up on the blog early next week. No more Mario references in that one…but if you want to learn about how to create the best possible GIS implementation for your organization, you’ll definitely want to check it out.

Topics: ArcGIS for Local Government, ArcGIS Online, GISi OneView, GIS, Tech Blog

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