Less than an hour’s drive from Toronto and the US border is the City of Hamilton, one of Canada’s top-ranked investment cities. Over the past five years, the City has averaged over $1 billion in building permit values, making it the fastest growing economy in Ontario. The City features the most active port in the Great Lakes and the most diversified economy in the country, with numerous thriving industries including advanced manufacturing, agri-business, food processing, clean technology, creative industries, goods movement and life sciences.
To keep this momentum, the City’s Economic Development Department invites Canadian and international businesses to invest in Hamilton. Previously, the department used slides, videos and handouts to present their story to potential investors. To consolidate their marketing materials into a unified tool with a modern and polished look and feel, the department turned to ArcGIS Online and created Invest in Hamilton, an easy-to-use, interactive story map journal.
Built using the Story Map Journal template in ArcGIS Online, Invest in Hamilton incorporates narrative text with maps, animated graphics, videos, photos and charts. The journal contains entries or sections that users can easily scroll through. Each section has associated multimedia content, making it ideal for presenting information in a way that’s compelling and easy to understand.
Creating Invest in Hamilton
In the following Q&A, Burke Thompson, a GIS systems analyst at the City of Hamilton, shares his experience using the Story Map Journal template to build their investment attraction map.
- Q: How familiar are you with working with GIS software? I have nearly 15 years’ experience using GIS software, 8 of which were while working in an IT environment. However, this was my first time building a map journal in ArcGIS Online.
- Q: How long did it take to develop Invest in Hamilton? I built the prototype within 2 days of receiving the request from our Economic Development Department and spent another few weeks tweaking the map’s style and content. The most time was spent in gathering the various media that needed to be incorporated into the map.
- Q: How did you find working with the map templates? Was there a feature that you found particularly useful? Honestly and surprisingly, I found configuring the map template the easiest part. I liked having the ability to use many different media options to enhance the message we’re trying to convey. It was like creating an interactive magazine article.
- Q: What challenges did you encounter using ArcGIS Online? The biggest challenges were generating quality spatial data and coming up with the media (i.e., maps, video, images, graphs and charts) to embed into the map. I believe it’s important to “cook with the best ingredients” so we spent a lot of time selecting the multimedia content for the map to ensure we present a cohesive and compelling story.
- Q: What tips would you share with others who might want to build a similar map? Spend some time getting to know how to use ArcGIS Online before diving into creating map journals or other story maps. You’ll get more out of your final product if you build richer map services.
- Q: What new functionality would you like to see in ArcGIS Online? It would be great if there were more selections for fonts and template colours, as well as analytics to enable tracking of the site’s usage (i.e., to determine whether we’re hitting the right geographic markets) and improve future program planning.
- Q: Do you plan on using ArcGIS Online again for your other apps? Absolutely. The quick turnaround time in developing a professional-looking map with an intuitive interface is very valuable to both the designer and the end user.
Invest in Hamilton was launched in March 2015 for a conference in Cannes, France. Since then, the City has received only positive feedback about the map. Their staff find it quite functional and have expressed interest in developing map journals for their own departments. Potential investors have commented that the map journal content is very apt and to the point.
To build your own story map journal, follow this tutorial.
Have you created your own map journal? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment below.