Story Maps in San Diego

The most enjoyable thing about “Story Maps” becoming a popular tool in practice is watching all of the different methods unfold. Although there is not a Wikipedia page for “Story Maps” yet, it is fairly well accepted that the term was coined by Allen Carroll, former Chief Cartographer at National Geographic and current ESRI Storytelling Program Manager. These stories can be told through the use of ESRI’s Map Story tool, and any other interactive web map-based portal. Many different tools are available for creating visualizations in order to tell a story, including making one from scratch with Leaflet and Mapbox.

These visualizations were discovered as Xentity recently geared up for the 2016 International Map Industry Association (IMIA) conference. The IMIA is a group of business owners and industry leaders in the global map community. Xentity organized and sponsored a session entitled “The Business of Building Apps with Open Data”.

As map professionals, it is not uncommon for our friends and colleagues to share their trip suggestions in map format. However, when three distinctly different sources presented their San Diego perspectives, it became apparent that this blog post was inevitable. Each title was selected from how they were originally shared.

SAANNNNN DIEGO – Google Platform

This perspective is from the author Patrick Collins, a colleague of ours who works in the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Patrick is a designer and technologist, not a map maker by trade, so it is interesting that he chose Google as his platform. Take note of some very interesting ways that Patrick has made the content of this map extra special. In particular, he had this tidbit, ”not all of the restaurants/bars on my map are created equal. There are some fancy places, some not-so fancy places, some total dives…Google them before you head out.” Patrick’s map also came with a thorough, excellent tour guide to the city. For the sake of not being too tangential the super short version is included below.

From Patrick: “Hanna’s Gourmet – a little restaurant, that has an EXCELLENT brunch. I bet their dinner is also really great. But for brunch, GET THE CHILIQUILES. The tomatillo sauce and awesome tortilla chips were maybe the best food I had. James Coffee Co. – this was my coffee snob traveling partner’s favorite coffee shop. 3rd wave, hipster centric, but with real great coffee. Torrey Pines Gliderport – this is awesome if there’s a breeze and people are out there. If not, it’s really pretty. The gliderport is where people launch paragliders off the cliffs by the ocean and then float around and down to the beach. Bonus tip: Black’s Beach, San Diego County’s only clothing optional beach, is right below it. The hike down is a bit of a trek, but if Torrey Pines beach is packed, Black’s is usually a great, more chill alternative. Also, the Scripps Institute has a really cool courtyard/architecture and it’s right up the road. Sunset Cliffs/Point Loma – I really loved Sunset Cliffs, totally worth it for the exceptional sunset. California Burrito – Just get one. There are so many places to get them at, a couple really revered joints too. We had them at Lucha Libre (go to the location on University), which I loved. Steak/Shrimp one was so insanely excellent.”

“Some Places to Eat in San Diego” – ESRI Platform

This particular map was passed along to us as we were reaching out to the San Diego community in search of speakers for the session from a new friend in the data provider community. He said, “I’ve been to many of these, and can attest that this app is legit.” So there you go, these restaurants are legit. I’m sure the map’s creator, Rupert Essinger of ESRI, would concur with the advice that accompanied his map.

San Diego Places – ESRI Platform

If you wouldn’t believe it, our colleagues from ESRI, David Watkins and Mark Cygan gave a presentation on all the different new templates that are available in ESRI for users to make story maps at the IMIA Conference – with all the new templates, the format shown in these two examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Fun now has a system that allows users to build their own story maps and link media from YouTube, Flickr and other places to enhance their story. Clearly our good pal Rupert has been improving his San Diego Map as well. Check out the Shortlist of Places to go during conference in ArcGIS StoryMap.

San Diego Nov 29 to Dec 1, 2016 – Carto Platform

This last map we created just to showcase a third platform CARTO, and of course, some cool pics too! A few homemade air photos during the approach flight, of course a great place for tacos and a great place for brews (green pins), and a handful of views (blue pins) from the 14th floor of the Omni Hotel.

The Takeaway

What truly makes the concept of story maps so interesting is that they do exactly what the name says. They tell the stories of people through maps. Take all of the aforementioned platforms for example. We found out consumer habits in San Diego restaurants just from the maps that were provided for us. Maps that told a story. At Xentity, we as map professionals hope that this idea of story maps can help build unique, new open data apps that help other consumers tell even more stories.