At Towson University’s Center for GIS (CGIS), we work with clients to highlight the reach and impact of their work. Often we use interactive maps that allow users to explore a map by zooming into areas of interest and clicking on map features to access details, links, and images, beyond just seeing a set of locations. However, even well-designed interactive maps can benefit from built-in context or even a guided tour—that’s where story maps come in.

Why use a story map?

Story maps combine interactive maps with text, images, videos, and HTML content to provide users with an experience that can both inform and inspire. We collaborate regularly with clients to develop story maps that allow them to:

  1. Unlock data
  2. Connect with their audiences
  3. Tell their story
  4. Share their work
  5. Raise awareness

Story map examples

Story maps can be used by multiple sectors as digital story-telling tools. Here’s a look at three story maps we’ve developed.

The National Park Service Suffrage Stories Project

The National Park Service (NPS) is among America’s most trusted resources for place-based education. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, CGIS partnered with NPS to develop the Suffragist Stories Project, which highlights the struggle for women’s rights and connects suffragists with NPS sites across the nation. By linking data from archival correspondence collections with mapped sites associated with movement participants, the Suffragist Stories Project’s interactive story map creates a visual representation of social networks, overlapping reform movements, people, places and the transfer of ideas throughout the country.

Mapping Towson University’s Partnerships

Partnerships are central to Towson University’s identity as a community-engaged institution. They support TU’s mission, enhance the learning experience, and create positive impacts in communities. The BTU Story Map showcases the geographic reach and impact of the 333 active engagements TU faculty, students, and staff have with 531 partner organizations across Maryland and beyond.

A Closer Look at Maryland’s Election Results

Every presidential election is a milestone in our nation’s history, and deservedly generates a lot of excitement. The 2020 election was especially tense. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted an expansion of early and mail-in voting options. In some places, returns were so close that the counting of mail-in ballots continued for days before the results were in and the winners declared. The Center for GIS developed a story map that allows users to take a closer look at county-level 2020 presidential election returns in Maryland, and examine how results differed based on method of voting.