Frequently Asked Questions

What is GIS and what is its role in Urban Planning?

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system that analyzes and displays geographically referenced information. It uses data that is attached to a unique spatial location that allows the decision makers to analyze and assess real-world problems.

In Urban Planning, GIS plays an integral role in how cities are shaped. One of the reasons why GIS is important in urban planning is the ability to better understand current needs for a city, and then design to fulfill those needs. With increased Urbanization, the importance of GIS lies in its ability to pull together the vast amounts of information necessary to balance competing priorities and solve complicated problems. Since its inception more than 30 years ago, GIS technology has truly empowered Urban Planners with enhanced visibility into the geospatial data.

What parts of local government use GIS and explain its benefits.

The scale of the planning area covered can range from a whole city to a sub-region of a city, a district, or a street block and GIS holds the key to better decision-making; just about everything from a community, business, or to what public agency does in day-to-day operations or long-term planning. All aspects of any City Administration is driven through GIS technology. Local Government uses GIS in Zoning, Land Use Planning, Utility Tracking, Building Inspection, Building Permit, Citizen Engagement, Emergency Management, Parcel Management and even providing better customer service by having access to precise and up to date access to data.

The Elevator Analogy
Imagine a tall skyscraper with multiple layers of floors. The elevator acts as a GIS technology that not only integrates various aspect of City Government (floors) but also keep them connected at all times. GIS has proved to be the backbone in helping local government through decision making.

Why ViewPro and how are ViewPro’s GIS solutions different from the competitors?

We at ViewPro are City Planners first and we are passionate about solving Planning challenges through the right use of GIS technology. Being in the industry for close to 20 years, we understand and recognize the day to day challenges of local governments regardless of its size.

Overarching GIS technology can perform many technical steps but they are generally geared to solve problems that speak to many industries - not specific to City Planning. Cities and Local Government need GIS solutions that are built just for them. ViewPro recognizes this gap and has built the last mile solutions that makes the use of GIS technology as part of Planners daily workflow.

ViewPro’s GIS solutions are simple to use and require little or no technical expertise. We at ViewPro keep it simple.

Why does ViewPro partner with Esri?

The pioneer and market leader in GIS, Esri has deployed GIS technology in over 350,000 institutions all across the globe. We have seen Esri evolve in the last 20 years into a social responsible organization that truly and deeply cares about creating geospatial technology that solves real-world problems.

In evaluating the right technology partner, we were looking to have a company that put clients first over profit, a company who backs its technology with full support, a company with a grand vision and most importantly who is most likely to survive rather unpredictable economic ups and downs in the future.

After careful evaluation and evaluating multiple competing technology companies in GIS space, we truly recognized Esri as a perfectly suited partner to build sustainable Planning solutions. As Esri's business partner since 2017, ViewPro is now committed to extending and customizing the reach of Esri technology to local governments, cities and municipalities.

Is there a population size threshold for ViewPro solutions to be more effective for implementation?

This is a very good question. We always wondered that from the beginning. Our initial assumption that Tier 1 to Tier 3 cities with (100k to 1M) population is more appropriate for implementation. This assumption was quickly put to test when we saw an increasingly high demand for map based user friendly Zoning tools.

ViewPro’s various GIS solutions have been implemented in cities with as low as 5,000 and as high as 500,000 population in North America. ViewPro’s SAAS platform allows us to produce cost efficient tools and it has been able to meet the expectations for a small town to Tier 1 cities. ViewPro sees no relevance with city’s population size as a limiting factor to implement its solution.

What to expect from ViewPro in 2020-2021?

ViewPro has exciting and bodacious plans for the year 2020. We are re-building the ViewPro’s underlying technology from the ground up so that it can support 3D based analytical solutions. Our widgets are getting far more efficient and fine-tuned for its day to day use.

Esri recently welcomed ArcGIS Urban into its GIS line of products that is inherently designed to keep Urban Planners needs in mind. Our Planners at ViewPro are de-coding Urban technology to provide our Local Government customers user friendly solutions to leverage Scenario Planning solutions. ViewPro is also proud to be part of an exclusive group of Consultants who are certified by Esri to deploy ArcGIS Urban solutions for Local Governments.

What is ArcGIS Urban?

ArcGIS Urban is a comprehensive GIS tool servicing the needs of Planners. Esri's flagship tool for Zoning and Scenario Planning, ArcGIS Urban provides a 3D immersive experience so Planners can instantly visualize projects in the local context, utilize location intelligence to make better decisions and connect visual and quantitative concepts for a complete 3D zoning analysis.

What are the benefits of ArcGIS Urban?

ArcGIS Urban is designed with Planners first approach and will help tackle Zoning and Land Use scenarios with ease. ArcGIS Urban offers many benefits including but not limited to Enhanced Decision Making, Improved Planning Productivity, Increased Community Engagement, real-time 3D representation of Zoning Ordinances and access to 3D contextual assessment of the geographic area. ArcGIS Urban also allow multi-departmental collaboration that allow City Planners and City Engineers to create Specific Area Plans, Track Development Projects, Manage Zoning Changes, Conduct Land Analysis and ability to Review Performance using key economic, social, environmental and spatial indicator.

How to deploy ArcGIS Urban?

ArcGIS Urban is inherently web based and works on ArcGIS Online platform. To run ArcGIS Urban, the licensee does not require any desktop based program that makes it very easy to access the program from anywhere. ArcGIS Urban is a brand new technology and hence it may require help from professional consultants. A list of Esri certified ArcGIS Urban Deployment partners can be found from the link below.

Esri Certified Urban Deployment Partners List

In our professional experience working with ArcGIS Urban, we have found the Urban deployment as easy to configure and intuitive to use.

What is the ownership cost for ArcGIS Urban?

ArcGIS Urban licensing is very straight forward and affordable. Esri also provides hefty discounts to cities and local governments who have Local Government Agreement in place. We highly recommend contacting the local Esri represent ative to help you identify the savings with the software cost.

ArcGIS Urban is a new technology and the learning curve involved may pose technical challenges at firs.

As an Esri certified ArcGIS Urban Deployment partner, ViewPro is equipped to handle any technical challenges that may come across during Urban deployment. To deploy Urban for a Small Area Plan, there is a one-time implementation cost that includes necessary knowledge-transfer that will make the City staff self-sufficient to handle it themselves.

To learn more about ArcGIS Urban Deployment click the link below.

How to deploy ArcGIS Urban?

My city has a population of less than 40,000. Is ArcGIS Urban relevant to cities with a certain population size?

Naturally Tier 1 cities such as San Francisco, Boston and Honolulu were the early adaptors of ArcGIS Urban that set the trend for many other cities to follow. As ArcGIS Urban growing its popularity, we have seen Urban deployment in cities with population as low as 25,000 and as high as more than a million.

ArcGIS Urban’s benefits are not associated with the size of the community but in fact on the size of the Planning issues that one is trying to solve. ArcGIS Urban can help solve problems such as urbanization, environmental hazards, identifying development trends and improving Planning productivity that is irrelevant and independent of the community size.

ViewPro provides IOC (Initial Operating Capability) assessment to check if ArcGIS Urban is a right fit for your community

Idea: Develop a quick that help you identify which Esri technology is a right fit for you

What is GeoZone and how does it help Planners and city residents understand Zoning Ordinances better?

ViewPro has developed GeoZone to solve Zoning challenges that most cities and municipalities face on a daily basis. Zoning Ordinances are increasing getting more difficult to comprehend and often create roadblocks for Developers and Residents due to its complex nature. GeoZone is inherently 3D, map based, simple to use and it is designed around Planners’ daily workflow. GeoZone connects applicable zones for any selected areas and present it to the viewers in a logical and intuitive format.

To keep things simple, ViewPro’s proprietary process will decode, interpret, analyze and display zoning ordinances onto a map using smart web hyperlinks format into more human readable format. These smart web hyperlinks can be customized and will be unique to each community. The most commonly used web hyperlinks are links to local development regulation, site planning requirements, landscaping standards, allowed land uses, variance, parking requirements and many more.

GeoZone uses a proprietary smart web URLs automation that allows easy access to Maps,Metrics and Zoning Summary Reports promoting ease of use and data transparency with the community.

WWhat is 3D Zoning and what are its benefits?

Visualizing complex Zoning Ordinances in a 3D environment allows City Planners a unique and transparent perspective on a development potential and possible roadblocks. Thanks to Esri and its recent technology developments with the introduction of 4.x API, we are now able to accommodate understanding and visualization of Zoning Ordinances in a 3D format.

As Esri’s business partner, ViewPro has extended its current capabilities to migrate to a 3D platform that utilizes the requirements in the legal zoning text with property records, parcel shapes to allow cities to visualize and calculate development potential such as setbacks, allowable heights and other dimensional requirements at the parcel specific level.

With 3D enabled technology, cities are now able to...

Design a 3D representation of the city and gain contextual information to assess performance and support decision- making.

Produce 3D visual and analytical representations of your legal zoning code and measure the immediate impact of your proposed design.

Quickly create detailed planning scenarios and share their work with stakeholders.

How is GeoZone connected with ArcGIS Urban?

As a responsible Esri partner, ViewPro wants to invest in taking the Esri technology further rather than recreating the same technology with a twist. GeoZone is designed to extend ArcGIS Urban’s capabilities and act as an intermediator to Urban’s 3D output.

GeoZone and ArcGIS Urban, both products are designed to assist City Planners understand and analyze complex Zoning ordinances into a simple and easy to understand 3D based map output. GeoZone is able to digest the output from ArcGIS Urban and not only maintains its data integrity during the exchange but also allow the City staff, stakeholders and citizens to have uninterrupted access to recent changes in Zoning configuration in real-time.

Who is the primary audience for GeoZone?

GeoZone is a GIS for Zoning. GeoZone is primarily designed around the needs for City Planners who typically work for local and state government and are in charge of decoding and interpreting the Zoning or Development Control Regulations. The typical work profile with the local government includes City Planners, Planning Directors, City Secretaries and Elected Officials.

ViewPro also enjoys partnership with many Planning consultants who leverage GeoZone to communicate their Planning related work (comprehensive plans, small area plans, corridor plans etc.) into easy to use and operate mapping capabilities while extending their technical offerings.

What is the ownership cost for GeoZone?

ViewPro’s GIS products including GeoZone is designed in a Software-As-a-Service (SAAS) format. This allows ViewPro to spread the cost of development across all of their city and local government clients. This results in significant savings and more standardized approach in how various GIS products aredesigned and offered.

With the support of a few dozen city clients and agile SAAS platform, ViewPro is continuing to innovate and develop new product features without having to add additional cost burden to our current and future city clients. We at ViewPro like to keep things simple.

What is the role of GIS in Citizen Engagement?

In recent years, citizens' expectations of government have changed radically. Citizens have started to expect more information, data transparency, more dialogue and more involvement into decision-makingprocess with all levels of City Government. To void this gap more and more cities are increasingly working towards establishing their own digital footprint so that right information can be served to the citizens and stakeholders in a timely and efficient manner.

GIS has proved its rightful place in city governance for its ability to effectively communicate geographic data with accuracy and with an instant access to the data. GIS tools has also enabled on-the-goparticipation to include a new generation of citizens and allow participation at their choosing of time and place.

How does GeoComment help local governments?

Planners at ViewPro recognizes the importance of citizen engagement within various layers of local governments. In order to provide a unified user experience, ViewPro extended its platform to accommodate map based on- the-go participation tool called GeoComment.

GeoComment is a 3D interactive GIS tool for citizen engagement designed for specific needs of City Planners and the decision makers at the City Hall to facilitate communication between a local government and its citizens to have meaningful input into the decision-making process.

GeoComment uses adaptive map based GIS tools to enable on-the-go participation to include a new generation of citizens and allow participation at their choosing of time and place. GeoComment allows the city staff, citizens and stakeholders of governance projects to interact digitally and offer meaningful inputs into the decision- making processes at all stages of project development.

Who is the primary audience for GeoZone GIS product?

GeoComment is primarily designed for local and state government who leads the Planning efforts from the front and has clear needs to connect with its citizens and stakeholders to develop a transparent dialogue and drive decision -making. The typical profile with the local government includes City Planners, Planning Directors, City Secretaries and Elected Officials.

ViewPro also enjoys partnership with many Urban Planning consultants who leverage GeoComment to extend their capabilities to reach out their desired audience to gain more support for the envisioning process and planning related work (comprehensive plans, small area plans, corridor plans) into easy to use and operate mapping capabilities while extending their technical offerings.

What is the ownership cost for GeoComment?

ViewPro’s GIS products including GeoComment are designed in a Software-As-a-Service (SAAS) configuration. This allows ViewPro to spread the cost of development across all of their city and local government clients. This results in significant savings and more standardized approach in how various GIS products are designed and offered.

With the support of a few dozen city clients and agile SAAS platform, ViewPro is continuing to innovate and develop new product features without having to add additional cost burden to our current and future city clients. We at ViewPro like to keep things simple.

Why is GIS important in Economic Development?

Economic developers need effective decision-making tools that help them conduct analysis, display and disseminate results and make informed decisions about where to locate new businesses or grow existing ones. GIS technology is proven to be powerful and effective in delivering these functionalities to help economic developers sustain economic recovery and growth.

How does GeoLocator help Cities and Local Governments to attract businesses?

Planners at ViewPro recognize the pressure that modern cities face who are looking to attract and retain businesses with a well-thought-out and innovative strategy by showcasing a city's unique strengths and its smart development strategies.

GeoLocator is a map based tool that helps draw business’ attention to the city’s unique strengths. The tool uses real-time Demographic and Business Analytics powered by Esri to offer business intelligence for identifying infrastructure assets and factors contributing to the current trends in development.

GeoLocator is an essential tool in a fiercely competitive market to retain business customers and tax dollars within its city limit and prevents the city from losing out to a neighboring city.

Where does the Commercial Real Estate data come from?

Available commercial properties for Sale and Lease is the foundational data required for any City or a Municipality to drive the economic development engine. ViewPro maintains ongoing working relationship with 3rd party vendors who creates and routinely updates the commercial real estate data at a national scale. ViewPro leverages their data and ensures its seamless implementation with GeoLocator.

Can the admin add their own Commercial Properties into the database?

Yes. GeoLocator has developed a proprietary tool that will allow the Administrator an ability to create their own commercial properties for Sale and Lease. The tool has the ability to share hierarchical user profile to real estate brokers and professionals who can add the listings while providing full editing access to the Administrator. This proprietary tool provides the city clients an option that requires no 3rd party subscription for commercial real estate data and regain full control of the local real estate listing data.

What is the ownership cost for GeoLocator?

ViewPro’s GIS products including V-Site are designed in a Software-As-a-Service (SAAS) configuration. This allows ViewPro to spread the cost of development across all of their city and local government partners. This results in significant savings and more standardized approach in how various GIS products are designed and offered.

With the support of a few dozen city clients, economic development corporations and agile SAAS platform, ViewPro is continuing to innovate and develop new product features without having to add additional cost burden to our current and future city clients.

We are showcasing at Esri UC 2020