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6 story maps show how data can illustrate the world

March 15, 2018  - By
Image: GPS World

Story maps combine geographic data with  multimedia to tell a story and present information in a useful, interesting way. 

While many story maps are designed for general, non-technical audiences, some story maps can also serve highly specialized audiences. They use the tools of GIS, and often present the results of spatial analysis, but don’t require their users to have any special knowledge or skills in GIS.

This has resulted in a veritable explosion of story maps.

“Story maps use geography as a means of organizing and presenting information. They tell the story of a place, event, issue, trend or pattern in a geographic context,” explains Esri’s press staff in a blog. “They combine interactive maps with other rich content — text, photos, illustrations, video and audio — within intuitive user experiences.”

Haven’t yet dipped your toe into Story Maps? This Esri blog takes users through story map creation step by step.

Below are six visual narratives that provide timely information using Esri’s Story Map creation tools.

Faces Show Personal Impact of Opioid Epidemic

The National Safety Council is adopting the Celebrating Lost Loved Ones map, which allows family and friends of those lost to the opioid epidemic to place an image and description of their late loved one on an interactive map. The project helps raise awareness of the broad impact of the opioid crisis and advances the council’s mission of ending opioid deaths. Unintentional opioid overdose deaths totaled 37,814 in 2016.

Jeremiah Lindemann, a solution engineer for Esri, created the map in 2016 following the death of his younger brother. Since its launch, the map has gathered more than 1,300 memorials from people across the U.S.

The map has been a crowdsourced effort, allowing grieving friends and family members to honor their loved ones, share their stories with others and find a supportive community in return.

Communities Potentially Affected by DACA Policy Changes

When elected officials talk about changing our immigration system, just who and where are people affected? That’s the question Esri is trying to help answer with a new interactive story map that explores communities with the highest shares of non-citizen residents and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients.

The map shows estimates on DACA eligible, recipients, and annual GDP loss from removing DACA workers by congressional district. Data comes from USC’s Dornsife Center for Immigrant Integration.

The size of the symbol shows the estimate of DACA recipients, and the color of the symbol shows the estimated GDP loss from removing DACA workers. This map shows that the economies of many states in the Southwest and several major urban cities could be substantially disrupted if DACA recipients are no longer permitted to work.

The Ever-Changing Minimum Wage

National, state and local government policies toward the minimum wage vary widely and are continually changing. On Jan. 1, new or adjusted minimum wage policies took effect in 18 states and territories. Varying rates, policies, and impacts across the nation make it challenging to understand the minimum wage landscape.

This Esri story map provides an overview of the the nation’s changing minimum wage policies. A few notable findings:

  • At the highest level, the variability of minimum wage policies from state to state is striking — this ranges from some states in the South that don’t even require a minimum wage, to places like D.C. that have a $12.50 minimum wage (currently the highest for a state or territory).
  • Similarly, the number of cities and counties that have taken it upon themselves to raise wages locally is impressive; these cities and counties have robust plans for raising minimum wages over the next few years.

Regardless of an area’s minimum wage, all states fail to guarantee minimum wages that actually match up to the cost of living for their respective areas. As such, there is a growing divide between states that have raised minimum wages and are at least bringing minimum wages closer to the cost of living, versus those states that are slower to raise minimum wages (or don’t raise wages at all) and fall much further below the local cost of living.

Even while minimum wages have nominally increased, inflation has devalued the dollar in such a way that even in 2018 some wages today have less purchasing ability than nominally lesser wages in the 1970s.

Ireland Encourages Emmigrees to Come Home

Like much of Ireland, the history of County Donegal is inextricably wedded to the geography of migration. Now county officials are using a story map to try and woo émigrés back to the Emerald Isle.

The Irish government views the loss of its citizens so seriously that a minister for diaspora affairs was appointed to the Irish cabinet in 2014.

Ireland’s Call — To Return Its Global Diaspora Home” displays key factors to assist those in contemplating returning. The story map launches the Global Skills Locator to link its global diaspora with job opportunities back home.

Smart City 3.0 Book Explained

Esri China (Hong Kong) Limited uses the story map tools in a unique way — to highlight its new book Smart City 3.0. The book and map discuss artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robotics and the sharing economy, and how all of them are shaping a new phase of development for the smart city.

Hurricane Harvey’s Lasting Effects

Within cities, poor communities often live in segregated neighborhoods with higher flood risks. This is especially true in Houston, where Hurricane Harvey hit this past August.

As in previous disasters like Katrina and Sandy, the heaviest cost of Harvey’s destruction is likely going to be borne by the most vulnerable communities in its path.

Humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief’s  interactive Esri maps used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social vulnerability index to show the geographic distribution of households with elderly or disabled members (in orange), immigrant and limited English-speaking populations (in purple), and pockets of poverty (in green). The darker the color, the higher the concentration of these factors in each region.

Learn more about story maps and how to create them here.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.