Using Map to Tell a Story

When I was one of the panel judges for National Geomatic/ Geoinformatics Students Innovation Competition (NGGSIC) organized by universities in Malaysia last year, I am amazed by the creativity of our university students in producing high quality maps that tell specific stories. One that really captured my attention was a historical map detailing all the major battles and incidents took place during World War II (WWII) in Malaysia (back then was Malaya). The students make use of maps to pinpoint location of major battles between Japanese and Alliance forces, substantiated with captions they retrieved from historical literature sources. It was presented with such an interesting and creative manner, as if it was a mindmap of WWII story on a map.

You too can create a mindmap of your story by using a map. Today, making and sharing your story map become much easier, thanks to advancement in computing and geospatial technology. You don’t have to confine yourself with printed, static map to share your information geographically. You can use your desktop GIS to perform map mash up, publish it as web map, to be discovered or consumed on any internet browsers or mobile devices. You have the option to share it internally within your group, or publicly with everyone, just how you normally do it on Facebook.

Yes, in fact story map is indeed Facebook of map.  Story maps combine intelligent web maps with web applications to inform, and share about a wide variety of topics. Maps allow us to communicate wealth of information and present it in easy to understand format. This is the true power of maps.

Take for example in a typical planning approval meeting at local authority level. Town planner normally needs to present development plan application to planning committee for approval. The planner will able to present the story by sharing the location of the development site, information about the planned development, and substantiate with plot ratio map, land-use zoning map to determine the regulatory compliance. In addition, other existing land-use i.e. infrastructure, amenities, public facilities can be overlay to present the story about potential social economic impact to the surrounding areas. The meeting will be more informed and productive when the information above are presented on maps instead of textual or description form.

If you are interested, there are many ready-made templates that can get you started without any programming needed. Esri has large collection of story map gallery to showcase interesting and important topics; to explore techniques and best practices for map-based storytelling; and to help enable people to make their own story maps. For more information about story map, please visit Esri story maps gallery or click on the image below.

Story map

Story telling with maps – A gallery of Esri story maps

So why wait? Let us start using maps to tell story.


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