It All Comes Down to Communication

Five story maps show how governments can increase awareness and inform the public on matters of resilience and sustainability.

“It all comes down to communication,” I thought to myself as I imbibed the words of mayors and other elected officials at the National League of Cities’ Resilient Cities Summit this past May.

For two days, I had the pleasure of listening to eighteen city mayors and executives express their desires for their cities to be more sustainable and resilient.  They also articulated their frustrations about the roadblocks that seemed to inevitably arise.  I came away with little desire to ever be an elected official (tough job!), but also with a strong desire to help them.  But how?

Throughout the summit, the same needs kept arising; the need to include the broader community in building resilient cities, and the need to better inform the community as part of creating greater inclusion and collaboration on challenging issues.

How can Esri help these mayors lead and inform their citizens?

Esri Story Maps are a very effective way to communicate.  Story Maps combine interactive maps and multimediatext, photos, videos, even 3D Web Scenes, and moreto create elegant user experiences. When I showed some mayors examples of story maps, I could see their minds at work imagining how to use them.

Here are five great examples of how story maps can be used increase awareness and inform the public on matters of resilience and sustainability.


The City of Raleigh’s Self-Guided Walking Tour story map informs residents and employees about recent efforts to make Raleigh sustainable.


The Boston Snow Journal story map recounts the record breaking winter storm of 2015.  The story map informs the public about how the City of Boston serves citizens during snow storms, and how residents can play a helping role by adhering to snow emergency parking rules.


The Green Your Routine In Action story map was created to help citizens explore Fort Lauderdale’s progress towards building a resilient and sustainable city. It is a way to explore the diversity of approaches to green living and working.


Philadelphia Citywide Vision story map contains a nice video of how Philadelphia has big plans for the future in association with different city neighborhoods.


The City of Cincinnati story map shows a number of strengths and challenges facing the City of Cincinnati and the efforts being made to bolster its physical, social and civic infrastructures.  This story map links to five other story maps to create a narrative for the city.


Tell Your Story

Do you have a story to tell in your community? Learn how you can harness the power of maps to tell yours.

About Brenda Wolfe

As the Industry Manager for Strategic Government Initiatives at Esri, Brenda is excited to share how governments can use GIS technologies to make communities more resilient, efficient, economically vibrant, and livable. For most of her 8+ years at Esri, Brenda worked with customers and software developers to create online software tools that governments and businesses use for economic development, community outreach, site selection, market research and real estate decisions. In her new role, Brenda is excited convey how those tools and others can be put to use to create "smart communities."
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