Storytelling with maps

A few weeks ago a team of Ernst Basler + Partners have attended the Swiss GeoSummit. Among others we have given a presentation on Story Maps in collaboration with Swisstopo’s (the Swiss national mapping agency) David Oesch.

What are Story Maps?

Story Maps are simple web apps that combine intelligent web maps with text, photos, and other multimedia content in order to tell location-based stories (definition by Lindemann). Compared to map portals, Story Maps are simpler, straightforward to understand and can be used without any prior technical knowledge about maps and – god forbid – GIS. And using Story Map templates from Esri they are actually not that complicated to build either.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Whether you attribute above adage to William Gaddis, Steve Jobs or Leonardo da Vinci: it’s certainly true for Story Maps. Overall, the following criteria make for a good Story Map according to Lindemann:

  • simplicity
  • connects with its audience
  • draws users in
  • the user experience supports the story
  • good cartographic and web design

Alternatively, you can read the very insightful and entertaining Why Map Portals Don’t Work series by Brian Timoney to get a Story Maps definition ex negativo.

Story Maps for public communication

Over the recent years, various providers of Story Map technology and templates have sprung up. Two of which, namely Swisstopo and Esri, are highlighted in our talk. As an engineering and consulting company, in our example we were especially interested how Story Maps can be used to foster information of the public and political participation in the planning or proposal stages of e.g. infrastructure projects.

You can view and download our presentation slides (unfortunately in German) from SlideShare, or just check them out here below:

Please contact me or my colleague Ralph Straumann with any enquiries regarding your potential Story Map project.

Jeremiah Lindemann: StoryMaps — Using ArcGIS as a Communications Medium. Esri User Conference 2013, Technical Session

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