Interactive maps are a powerful way for organizations to showcase the geographic reach of the work they do. More than just seeing a set of locations, interactive web maps allow users to explore the map by zooming into areas of interest and clicking on map features to access details, links, and images.

However, even a well-designed web map could benefit from some built-in context or a guided tour—that’s where Story Maps come in. The Esri Story Map platform combines interactive maps with your text, images and videos in order to provide a seamless experience in which the map viewer is given the tools and context to make the most of exploring your map.

Instead of a map standing alone, you can:

  • Store a collection of maps in one place
  • Zoom to areas of interest or open  pop-up windows by default
  • Add text, images and links to complement each map
  • Create buttons to navigate to areas of interest or activate map content.

Last fall, we collaborated  with our colleagues in the Office of Partnerships and Outreach to map TU’s partnerships across the state. The BTU team wanted to illustrate the far-reaching work done by and with the TU community, highlight ongoing partnerships, provide more information about the targeted impact areas, and then let users explore the map—perhaps looking for partnerships in their community, or inspiring them to get involved.

Mapping Towson University’s Partnerships

Recently, we’ve created story maps used to highlight active environmental projects and share locations for planned work. This type of story map can also function as a visual for presentations, or tool for delivering executive-level summaries.

In a different vein, we’ve also been collaborating on story maps that act as gateways to introduce an audience to historical research. We are mapping historic people, places, how they are connected, and linking to archives. Story maps allow us to provide the audience with the broader historical context to interpret what they see on the map.

Here are a few other ideas for using story maps—some are even more relevant in the current moment of social distancing.

  • Create a story map to use as a marketing tool to show the reach and breadth of your organization, while also allowing your audience to explore areas of interest and connect with your work.
  • Use a story map to facilitate virtual campus or facility tours. There’s a special template for this!
  • Use story maps for public outreach and education, like these COVID-19 related story maps.
  • Embed outside websites—such as surveys, image galleries, or videos—into a story map.

As of late, our team has been busy developing story maps for a variety of projects and we can’t wait to share them! In the meantime, check out the BTU Partnerships story map, Esri’s Classic Story Maps Gallery, or some new style ArcGIS StoryMaps for inspiration.