Since Towson University launched BTU—Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore, we have been working to tell the story of the impactful work taking place between TU faculty, staff, and students and our partners across the state. We have a robust website that shares the work of BTU; host externally facing events; developed an awards structure; and are active on Twitter and Facebook, not to mention this blog!
However, we’ve frequently heard that it would be helpful to actually see, not only who TU is partnering with, but also their location and overall impact. To help with this, we reached out to our colleagues in TU’s Center for GIS (CGIS), whose team specializes in creating visualizations from location-based data, to develop the BTU Story Map.
Story maps weave together collections of maps with text, images, and video for a fuller user experience. The BTU Story Map is a powerful tool that helps us showcase the geographic reach and impact of the 351 active engagements TU faculty, students, and staff have with our 540 partner organizations across Maryland and beyond. More than just seeing locations on a map, the interactive map allow users to explore the map and BTU partner engagements by zooming into areas of interest and accessing specific details, links, and images through pop-up windows.
With TU faculty, staff, and students working with 540 partner organizations in 351 different ways, you can imagine it’s challenging to show the breadth of this work. Fortunately, with data points already being collected through the BTU Database, our mechanism for capturing and sharing information about TU partnerships, we were in a great position to provide the necessary data points to CGIS for getting this information integrated into a story map.
The BTU Story Map
The BTU Story Map is a collection of maps that visualizes the broad extent of TU’s partnership activity. While the map certainly doesn’t demonstrate all of the information captured within the BTU Database, it’s a great snapshot of the types of information we collect, and a great way to visually see the work taking place between Towson University and our partners.
The story map is divided into five maps, highlighting the five impact areas for TU’s collaborative work at home and in the surrounding communities:
- High-quality & equitable education
- Strong neighborhoods & sustainable communities
- Thriving & competitive economy
- Lifelong health & well-being
- Vibrant arts & cultural community
The pairing of map views with narrative and multimedia content provides viewers with the context needed to understand and explore the map, ultimately allowing us to tell the impact of BTU—Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore in a more engaging way.
The narrative panel that accompanies each map tells the story of TU’s mission to serve the community. Links embedded in the narrative seamlessly connect viewers to partnership locations and pop-ups on the map for a more intuitive and enriched experience.
In only a short time of having the BTU Story Map, it has already proven to be a great resource. We hope you take some time to check out the BTU Story Map and explore the work taking place in our communities throughout Greater Baltimore and beyond.
Partner with Towson University
We are always open to new ways to match the needs and resources of potential partners, with those of Towson University. If you are interested in partnering with TU, are currently partnering with TU and have ideas around additional collaborations, or would simply like to stay up to date about events and opportunities through BTU, visit our Partner with Us page on our website.
About the authors
Kathleen Crostic is the partnerships manager in the Office of Partnerships & Outreach. She responsible for developing and supporting partnerships across the university and providing support to meet the mission of TU being an engaged university. She is also responsible for building new partnerships and supporting the data collection efforts through the BTU framework.
Christina Nemphos joined the Center for GIS team in 2008. As a GIS Specialist, she works to manage, map, and analyze spatial data from a variety of fields. Christina is currently pursuing an M.S. in Social Science, applying her interest in GIS to anthropology and environmental issues.