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  • Writer's pictureArpit Shah

5 Interesting Ways to Communicate using Maps

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

You would have noticed that youngsters have so much fun exploring a Map or a Globe and extracting bits of information from it. Like many of us, I too enjoy querying Google Maps to plan a getaway, reduce travel time, understand location characteristics and so on. Essentially, a Map displays and conveys information to us in ways which are very compelling to the adventure-seeking side of us.

In this blog, I will demonstrate five interesting ways to convey map-based information. These are more effective in communicating the intended message in certain cases than what a static 2D map can.

(Much thanks to Esri Training for enabling me to learn and practice these techniques)


1. Fly-Through Animation

Consider a situation where you want to display an Area-of-Interest (AoI) in a 'before & after' state of a particular project or an event e.g. construction, disaster etc. A 'fly-through' animation, as the name suggests, enables you to have a third-person, bird's eye view of the situation. In the video below, you can see a fly-through visualization of a location in Wisconsin, USA which was tragically impacted by a large mudslide on 22nd March 2014.

Video 1: Fly-through Animation - Oso Mudslide in 2014

(3D rendering has been done using a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) which gives a realistic feel to the view . The orange columns show the location of the houses which were impacted by the mudslide)


2. 2D Animation through Time

This technique is helpful when the map-based information one wishes to convey traverses various points in time i.e. is 'temporal' in nature. The 2D animation video below shows how ships from three major European countries used to fare out in the sea in the year 1770. Information such as Frequency of journey, Routes used and Ports docked is being conveyed using this animation. CLIWOC has retrieved this data based on the logbooks filed by the captains of these ships.

Video 2: 2D Animation Video - European Seafaring Routes in 1770

You can understand the beauty of this technique by imagining how crude it would be to convey this story on a static 2D map. In case you are wondering, this is how the data looks in its static form. Just a meaningless jumble of coordinates conveying points!


3. Stop-Motion Animation

Let me evoke your memories of a Flipbook. The technique behind this is called 'Stop-Motion' wherein objects are manipulated in small increments between each frames so that they create an illusion of motion when played quickly. In this exercise, the situation continues from where we left off in the previous example. We now want to monitor shipping activity in a particular route and see which journey was completed in the fastest time in the year 1770.

Again, as you would realize, this is a very specific information which we wish to convey and it is very difficult to visualize this information using a static map. See how a Stop-Motion animation, of three journeys at different times within the year 1770, helps us to grasp the intended message in an effective manner -

Video 3: Route - from La Coruna in Spain to San Juan in Puerto Rico. Which journey (date) was the quickest?


4. StoryMaps

While this isn't necessarily a new 'technique' of designing map-based information as such, I've included StoryMaps in this list because it is a wholesome way of 'presenting' information in an interactive way to the readers and it integrates various cool features within the powerful Esri mapping ecosystem. As the name suggests, StoryMaps enables one to narrate a thematic, map-based, digital story. Enclosed below is the promo video of StoryMaps.

Video 4: Esri StoryMaps Introductory Video

Do have a look at this captivating StoryMap example- Mapping Mount Everest (For the best viewing experience, register for a free account with ArcGIS Online if prompted, within).


5. Map-based Dashboards

Dashboards represents a revolutionary way of conveying specific map-based information. With Dashboards, one can configure a dynamic map application with relative ease. These kind of dashboards are extremely useful to deploy in an operational setting, be it business or community themed in nature. On this note, I would urge you to explore the various super-impressive dashboards listed on Cool Maps. The Migration Trends & Crime Time dashboards are my personal favorites.

Should you like to explore Dashboards further, the video below will take you through the journey of creating an Operations Dashboard.

Video 5: Esri Operations Dashboard Introductory Video

Isn't this useful? I've written a detailed article on Dashboards which features several live examples of the application for diverse workflows. Have a look here.



Intelloc Mapping Services | Mapmyops is engaged in providing mapping solutions to organizations which facilitate operations improvement, planning & monitoring workflows. These include but are not limited to Supply Chain Design Consulting, Drone Solutions, Location Analytics & GIS Applications, Site Characterization, Remote Sensing, Security & Intelligence Infrastructure, & Polluted Water Treatment. Projects can be conducted pan-India and overseas.

Several demonstrations for these workflows are documented on our website. For your business requirements, reach out to us via email - or book a paid consultation (video meet) from the hyperlink placed at the footer of the website's landing page.



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