When people can see information, they can better understand it. And when they can better understand it, they can get more from it. That’s why maps play such an important role for open government initiatives.

Although GIS has been utilised by government departments for decades, it was long seen as a high-level technology that only a specialised few could use to create functional and attractive maps for the public.

However, that once exclusive reputation is being put to rest with a whole range of user-friendly applications now available that simplify tasks and streamline workflows.

One app in particular has gained a great deal of traction throughout the government sector over the past few years, and is increasingly being used as an open data tool to share community information, raise environmental awareness and attract visitors to regional towns and major cities.

Story Maps is a community-focused app from Esri that lets you take your standard digital map and couple it with a range of other content – from text and images to videos and audio.

You don’t need a degree in geospatial science. You don’t have to be able to code. All you need is an ArcGIS Online account, or to be a member of your organisation’s enterprise portal.

If you don’t have either of those, you can sign up for a free 60-day ArcGIS platform trial and start making story maps straight away.

Locally, the New South Wales State Emergency Service has recently leveraged ArcGIS technology to create its Tsunami Story Map.

The end result is an easy-to-understand, highly informative virtual brochure of sorts, which features information on what a tsunami is, where such an event would pose a threat for the state, and the emergency management contingency plans currently in place.

This striking public transport story map, meanwhile – developed using datasets made available by Public Transport Victoria – explores Melbourne’s public transport system, with detailed time-distance modelling that shows commute times to the CBD, wait times, and even public transport access to local McDonald’s stores.

Elsewhere around the world, local, state and federal government departments are exploring the full capabilities of Story Maps with impressive results. Below, I’ve listed a few examples that caught my attention:

You can also go ahead and visit our map gallery, or explore Esri’s Story Maps gallery, for further mapping inspiration from all corners of the globe.

If you’d like to purchase an ArcGIS licence to start creating story maps of your own, please call 1800 870 750 or submit an enquiry online.

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