Story Maps an Innovative Way to Share and Inspire

Story Maps were first introduced by Esri as a compelling method to share information in geographical way. Now Story Maps are increasingly popular around the world, because comparing with plain texts, documents or presentation slides, Story Maps are more attractive in the way that they are more interactive, intuitive, and interesting.

Story maps are being used worldwide to share interesting information. (© Sameer Bajracharya / ICIMOD, Nepal)

Story maps are being used worldwide to share interesting information. (© Sameer Bajracharya / ICIMOD, Nepal)

By definition, Story Maps use geography as a means of organizing and presenting information, so that stories of places, event, issues, trend or pattern are told in a geographic context. In recent years, modern technologies including GIS, the web, the cloud and mobile communications have enabled the maps to become an even more powerful storytelling tool. Therefore Story Maps provide a way to integrate multiple types of multimedia resources, including real-time maps, texts, photos, video, audio and other elements to present an interactive and thematic message, or story.

The intended audience, purpose, theme and content of the stories presented by Story Maps can be very different. GIS professionals, planners, communications specialists, knowledge workers, journalists, activists, web designers, bloggers, educators, students, and amateur geographers can all tell their stories through Story Maps. A typical Story Maps are often produced for viewing by the general public who do not have technical background. Anyone with access to the Internet can be guided through a series of panels that include thematic text, maps, and imagery in a Story Maps to learn the message and knowledge that its map creator trying to convey.

There are also Story Maps targeting at highly specialized audiences. For example, they can summarize issues for managers and decision makers, or they can help departments or teams within organizations to communicate with their colleagues. Nevertheless, Story Maps are not intended to do the sophisticated activities of traditional GIS platforms. In business environment, they may be embedded with GIS tools, and often present the results of analytical or spatial analysis, but do not require their users and readers to have any special knowledge or skills in GIS.

Story Maps Web Apps are available in ArcGIS Online for publishing Story Maps.

Story Maps Web Apps are available in ArcGIS Online for publishing Story Maps.

Story Maps are typically deployed over the Web via tools such as ArcGIS Online and are simple to construct in the format of ArcGIS web maps. Users can create ArcGIS web maps by combining their data including pictures, spreadsheets and GIS data, together with authoritative content and thematic maps from Esri and the GIS community, and basemaps. Then the users can publish their web maps by using Story Map Web Apps and there are already a number of web apps built directly into ArcGIS Online. The web maps published in this way support visualization, queries, analytics and pop-ups for map features with rich content including photos and graphs.

Winners of Storytelling with Apps Contest.

Winners of Storytelling with Apps Contest.

An excellent example of Story Maps is the Story Map of 10th Esri Asia Pacific User Conference. It shows the points of interest of Hong Kong and helps the overseas attendees of the conference to enjoy their stay in the Asia World City. There are also many fascinating Story Maps created in the Esri Storytelling with Apps Contest which shows the rapid growing community of geo-storytellers and the power of Story Maps.

For anyone who wants to get a hands-on experience of Story Maps, it is easy to create a free ArcGIS public account and build your own Story Maps by following 6 steps. Let us harness the power of maps to inform and inspire audiences now!

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