Category Archives: Storytelling with Maps

Mapping Thanksgiving Dinner in Four Courses

The Pilgrims didn’t need to look far for food sources when they celebrated the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation in 1621. Most of those original dishes were local to the area, and included shellfish, venison, fruit, and nuts in addition to turkey. However, as America has grown, not only in population, but in expanse, Thanksgiving dinner has taken on new regional flavors and demands that span the breadth of the entire country. As food in the modern age must now travel hundreds of miles to reach the dinner table, consumers are becoming more concerned about the origins of their consumption choices. Thanksgiving is no exception.

Through GIS technology, we can now see exactly where each part of our Thanksgiving meal came from. Four maps show the locations in the United States that four different staples of Thanksgiving dinner are produced. These maps can be explored easily by clicking through the Where Did Your Thanksgiving Dinner Come From? Story Map.

“Where Did Your Thanksgiving Dinner Come From? Story Map shows where in the United States turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and green beans originate.”

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Yorktown High School Opens GIS Day 2016 for the Nation

Today, Wednesday, November 16th is GIS Day. Because of a quirk in class schedule, the Geography teachers at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia, celebrated it Monday, November 14. Jennifer Shearin organized presentations from NGA and Esri for seven sections of AP Human Geography at YHS. Mike Cantwell, a GEOINT Officer at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency gave 160 students an understanding of the importance of their mission. Humanitarian work in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew was showcased from http://nga.maps.arcgis.com/.

Curt Hammill and Brooke Rippy, from the Defense Team at Esri explained how the gift from Esri and Amazon to every school in America could help YHS. Brooke signed up all 160 students for ArcGIS Online accounts at www.arcgis.com. Brooke told the students how she found a job at Esri. “I was interested in Geology, Environmental Science, and Urban Planning, and realized at George Mason University that they all were joined by Geography. I’m excited to work at the company that invented GIS.”

Mike Cantwell – GEOINT Officer at NGA, Jennifer Shearin – Geography Teacher,
Brooke Rippy – Defense Team at Esri

Mike is reaching out to YHS as a part of NGA’s Partners in Education (PIE) program. He remarked, “The Human Geography students at Yorktown High School now have a better understanding of the NGA mission and how NGA uses ArcGIS to support our Intelligence Community and Department of Defense customers.”

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Mapping Stories of Service

Esri is honoring Veterans Day this year with two Story Maps that both show the unique lives of the brave men and women who have defended the United States.

The Mary Edwards Walker Story Map tells the amazing story of the first and only female Medal of Honor recipient. Born in Oswego, New York in 1832 to a family of iconoclastic egalitarians, Walker was the second woman to graduate from medical school in the United States, and founded her own medical practice shortly upon graduating. Soon after however, the Civil War started, and Walker—a staunch abolitionist—volunteered for the Union Army as a nurse, eventually becoming the US Army’s first female surgeon. After four years of battlefront service, Dr. Mary Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States of America’s highest military honor.

“Mary Edwards Walker Story Map”

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Annual Reporting with Story Maps

By John Steffenson

I’ve written about our work with the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program previously, and perhaps you’ve seen the plenary presentation FIA staff gave at this year’s Esri User Conference. One of FIA’s newer efforts is to update and modernize one of its traditional and perhaps more mundane tasks, producing annual reports. The FIA Program collects extensive information on the nation’s forests and is mandated by the farm bill to produce five-year reports on the status and trends of our forest resources. In the east, FIA has historically also produced an annual report that provides insight into the incremental changes and trends observed in the data collected since the last detailed report. State foresters and industry experts can utilize that information to make policy or investment decisions.

Fifteen years ago, annual reports began as resource bulletins. These previously printed documents are now delivered as PDFs. At the 2016 Society of American Foresters National Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, the FIA Program unveiled 10 FIA annual reports as story maps with interactive maps, charts, and graphs. ”We’ve been producing  annual reports for a long time, but how do we make them more meaningful, not just rote documents? How can we reach new audiences and explore new ideas?” asks Charles “Hobie” Perry, research soil scientist with the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station.

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Off the Fence, Into the Polls

Esri Story Map Shows the Potentially Huge Influence of Millennials in the Swing States

By Kyle R. Cassal, Esri Demographer

If you graduated high school when Matchbox 20 topped the charts, you’re a Millennial, and pundits think your age group could decide who the next leader of the free world will be—no pressure or anything. Whether you support Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, you should be interested to know that demographers have taken account of the entire US Millennial population. Two interactive maps embedded in the Esri Story Map Can Millennials Sway the Presidential Election? expose the election-deciding potential of one of America’s largest voting blocs.

Millennials per State

Unless Millennials stay home in apathetic droves on Election Day, the millions who comprise this generation will help swing the fence-sitting states one way or the other. Both Clinton and Trump know this and, unsurprisingly, have spent considerable money courting this age group for support. With 14 politically agnostic states to sway before November, it doesn’t take a mathematician to see why both parties covet Millennial votes.

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Ten Essential Steps for Story Map Success

“Everyone has a story to tell.
Harness the power of maps to tell yours.”

Story Maps are easy to author, but to craft a truly great one you’ll likely need to put in a little extra effort . Like playing a guitar, it’s easy to learn the F, C, G, and E chords and start strumming away. But if you’re looking to become a true virtuoso, then it will take some thought, study, prep, and even practice. Here are 10 steps for success you should consider to build awesome stories.

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Visualizing Data on Asian American and Pacific Islanders

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) will be celebrated on Friday, October 7, 2016. Earlier this year, the Department of Education and the University of California, Riverside launched the Elevate: AAPI Data Challenge, inviting the public to show new ways to analyze, interpret, and present data about Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).

AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in the USA, and the most diverse. Publicly available data sets include classification by national origin, such as Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, or Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Quality of life may be enhanced for communities when they know about and participate in federal programs, so this challenge is one way to generate new insights.

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The Second Sprint: Expanding the Opportunity Project

At the March launch of the opportunity Project, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz said Monday, “ZIP code should not determine destiny.”

Personally, this is why I chose to work in public service and then Esri, a forward-leaning organization that supports civic innovation and community solutions through smart mapping.

Maps can highlight the inequality we face as a nation today, and also provide a guide to resources and solutions that can help expand economic opportunity to every American, regardless of geography.

We at Esri were excited to participate in the second sprint of the Opportunity Project, because maps and spatial analysis offer real solutions to problems that every American faces. This second sprint has allowed us to work closely with subject matter experts to understand more completely how to design tools for communities participating.

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Alaska Revealed

Exciting news from the Arctic! Version 2 of the Arctic DEM has been released. Topographic elevation of the Arctic can now be viewed and analyzed like never before. This release extends the detailed 2 meter Alaska elevation data with additional 2m data for Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, as well as preliminary 8 meter data for the entire Arctic.  Additional detailed 2 meter elevation data will be released in quarterly installments over 2017 until the arctic data is complete.  This is the result of a partnership between Esri, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota.

In September 2016, the White House hosted an Arctic Ministerial meeting, with over 20 countries represented, where this data was showcased and new commitments on data provisions were sought.  The goal of the meeting and the function of the new data is to help people better understand, adapt to, and address the changing conditions in the Arctic.

The four key themes include:

  • Understanding Arctic-Science Challenges and their Regional and Global Implications.
  • Strengthening and Integrating Arctic Observations and Data Sharing.
  • Applying Expanded Scientific Understanding of the Arctic to Build Regional Resilience and Shape Global Responses.
  • Using Arctic Science as a Vehicle for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education and Citizen Empowerment.

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Esri Teams up with XPRIZE to Advance Sea Floor Mapping

by Jyotika I. Virmani, Senior Director of Energy and Environment for XPRIZE and Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist

Over 60% of the Earth’s surface has not yet been mapped. The ocean covers 70% of our planet’s landmass, and of that, less than 15% of the sea floor has been mapped at a resolution greater than 5 km. In fact, we have higher resolution maps of the entire surface of the Moon, Venus, and Mars than we do of our own Earth. But this situation can be changed. We are in the midst of a Technological Revolution and with the advent of exponential technologies such as 3D printing, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, we now have smaller and cheaper tools and greater access to information.

Mapping the sea floor has, historically, been a challenge. Seawater is obviously opaque, which prevents us from using visible, remote surveying techniques to get maps of the sea floor. Seawater is a harsh and corrosive medium and, with a viscosity greater than air, it has additional engineering challenges such as high friction resulting in rapid power drain for any device that is used to map the bathymetry underwater. It is also expensive to access because the technology of today requires ships to sail to the area being mapped before the mapping technology is deployed. At an average cost of $60,000 a day, it can easily cost a few hundred thousand dollars before mapping can even begin.

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a 3-year competition launched last December, is incentivizing innovators to develop the autonomous underwater robots we need to map the sea floor at 5m or higher resolution and take high-definition images of the deep sea. Within this is a $1 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bonus Prize, for teams who can develop an underwater tracking device that can autonomously track a biological or chemical to its source. The devices will be shore-based or aerial deployments, removing the massive costs associated with ships.  The competition will conclude in December 2018 and, like all other XPRIZE competitions, there will be a number of technical solutions that emerge to provide underwater cartographers the tools they need to survey the sea floor.

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