July 23, 2015

ArcGIS Earth – 3D Made Easy and a Conspiracy Theory


ArcGIS Earth is Esri’s latest technology offering that holds the promise of a lightweight, high-performance 3D data visualization engine for the enterprise. Though this is true, there are some interesting nuances to consider as well as a question to be answered.



First, let’s review what’s in question…or rather my conspiracy theory: if Google is working with Esri to transition users away from Google and Esri now has something that looks a WHOLE LOT like Google Earth…could Esri’s new technology be Google Earth at its core? Which makes sense.  If Google and Esri are working so closely together, why would Esri re-create the wheel? Ok, so maybe not earth shattering (please excuse the double-entendre) but could answer why ArcGIS Earth works with KML (Keyhole Markup Language) out of the gate.

So, where does ArcGIS Earth fit into the enterprise? The Esri website Common Questions section of the ArcGIS Earth page, tells us where this is headed. 

How does ArcGIS Earth fit with the rest of my ArcGIS technology stack?

“ArcGIS Earth is a fully supported app on the ArcGIS platform. It joins the ranks of other Esri apps such as Collector for ArcGIS, Esri Story Maps, and Esri Maps for Office, to deliver value to both GIS and non-GIS users in your enterprise. Like those apps, it is fully integrated with the ArcGIS platform, allowing you to take advantage of data you already have in ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS.” 
- Esri Website

Will it be free?

ArcGIS Earth will be another powerful tool in the “Platform” offering. For those companies that have been thinking there will be a “free” version of ArcGIS Earth where their users can browse enterprise content, current signs are pointing to no. The ArcGIS Earth offering will likely require a named ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS for Portal user just like all of the other Platform offerings coming from Esri. 

And, that is OK.

Mainly, because Esri will surely be expanding on the simplicity of Google Earth to add the ability to pull in Web Map Services like the ArcGIS Online background layers or your internal Portal’s business layers.  Esri will add the ability to overlay internally authored Web Maps and Widgets down the road making the ArcGIS Earth tool more valuable and powerful than ever. 

So long flat files!

Imagine GIS professionals within Oil & Gas organizations authoring powerful Web Maps and pushing those to the Google Earth-like maps on everyone’s desktops, avoiding KML and flat files while ensuring those users are consuming “gold standard” data?


So, where does ArcGIS Earth fit into your organization?  It is another powerful tool in your Esri Platform tool belt…and boy is it cool.