I have two interactive map ideas to share: one that’s timely this week and one that I tossed out in conversation with some arts journalists Saturday:
Friday is Veterans Day. We got some pretty good engagement last year at TBD with our #wheretheyserved map (below), created by Daniel Victor.
Whether you are planning the obligatory feature story about local veterans or not, I encourage newsrooms to engage this week with your communities this way by inviting people to tell their stories. You can invite people to place pins on the maps for their family members who are serving or have served in the military. They can tell stories and add photos and links, even videos.
We promoted it on Twitter using the #wheretheyserved hashtag (you might want to try a local or state hashtag such as #CTvets for Connecticut vets or #MIvets for Michigan vets). Some people may just tweet using the hashtag and not enter the information on the map. You can enter it for them (or reply or DM, encouraging them to do that themselves). Of course, you’ll want to promote it as well on Facebook (not just on your own page, but check to see if local veterans groups have Facebook pages) and in print or broadcast products.
You could adapt this idea to other holidays: Where people spent their favorite Christmas, favorite holiday lighting displays, favorite vacation stories, etc.
Making a Google map is easy. Go to Google Maps, click on “my places” and then “create map.” Click “collaborate” and allow anyone to edit the map (you will want to watch in case anyone tries any mischief, but we didn’t have any problems with this at TBD). To embed the map on your site, click the link icon in the upper right corner (the window this opens will also give you an opportunity to customize the appearance of the map).
In a Skype conversation Saturday with some arts journalists, I mentioned an interactive map possibility that might work for them: Invite people to place public art such as murals, statues and outdoor sculptures on a map of your community. People can add photos of the art works, as well as their own mini reviews or a story about the piece. The compilation of such a map can be a fun weeklong or monthlong engagement project. And then the map is an evergreen community resource for your site.
Crowdmap is another tool to use for community engagement. My former TBD colleague Mandy Jenkins wrote a how-to explainer for creating a Crowdmap on her blog.
What are some other ways newsrooms can engage the community in building a map? Please share some examples if you have engaged the community in making a map (or have seen a map someone else used).