May 2015
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MapStory and Story Maps

Many of us are familiar with Esri Story Maps, and hopefully, many of us will visit exhibits and workshops about them at the upcoming Esri User Conference in July. Story Maps are a great way to add a “where” dimension to telling our story, or to just help explain something to someone. (It’s not too late to enter Esri’s Storytelling Contest, with winners to be announced at the Conference.)

While Esri Story Maps provide self-guided interactive presentations for the user, has been likened to the “YouTube of geospatial temporal data”. Here, maps have Play buttons.

With initial development beginning in 2011, was launched in early 2013 by the MapStory Foundation as a community project, inspired by Wikipedia and completely built on open source software. One example shows the growth of the City of Los Angeles. Unknown to us, within weeks after our countywide city annexation data was first uploaded to the Los Angeles County GIS Data Portal, someone from New York City created this animated map. The same author later created a more elaborate animation showing the evolution of all of L. A. County’s cities, including several cities that are now extinct.

With a free MapStory account, all it takes is a shapefile containing dates to create a story layer.

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