Friday, July 6, 2012

Story Maps and more from ESRI

ESRI is a California-based company that encourages companies and not-for-profits to use geographic information software - mapping - to analyze, interpret and understand data. The company also provides extensive maps showing earthquakes, eruptions, and weather events, as part of its disaster response program. Here's a screenshot, for example, of its earthquake timeline map, showing 2009-2010. Note the background of populated areas; by layering the earthquake data on top the map tells you a lot of information quickly.
(Since this is a screenshot it won't play; click here for the ESRI map.)

Telling a story with maps is something ESRI actively encourages - and teaches people how to do on its web site. Here, for example, is an app that lets users follow the Olympic torch relay through the UK. You choose a day, you choose a town and you get a map and a flicker stream of pictures of the torch relay from that day. The site also has an explanation of story maps, templates, and (in pdf) a step-by-step guide to developing a story map.

It's a very clear, well thought through website - I learned about it from James Fallows' blog, where he posted an ESRI map overlaying the storm strength in DC and Maryland this week on top of "social vulnerability" detail, ie, data showing where elderly or low-income people might be. These (there is a regional map, along with detailed maps of Baltimore and Washington) are the featured maps on the ESRI site.

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