As a kid, I loved poring over maps and globes. Still do. So many places to go, so many stories to tell.
Nowadays, with digital technology at our fingertips, the narrative use of maps – not to mention satellite imagery, aerial video and 360-degree photography – is more powerful than ever. In the last few months, for example, we’ve been working with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub on a virtual tour of climate-related project sites utilizing 360-degree photography, drone video, digital maps, and conventional video and still photography. The tours can be experienced on a monitor or mobile device or with virtual-reality goggles. We’re expecting the tours to go live in the next few months.
In yet another project, we’ll be creating a “story map” on the ESRI platform, which, in turn, will be embedded in a WordPress website.
Now that we’re flying GIS-equipped drones, there are all sorts of possibilities for combining maps with aerial video and using aerial photography to create three-dimensional models of landscapes and structures. And of course, as we’ve always done, we’ll be creating stylized maps for print and web-based projects.
But remember, all the whiz-bang technology in the world is no substitute for effective storytelling. As Sam sang in Casablanca, “the fundamental things apply.” In this case, the fundamentals include accurate information, emotional engagement, and relatable issues. The objective is to connect your audience more deeply and durably to the organization’s mission. Maps are just another tool to that end – albeit an extremely powerful one.