Digital Storytelling: Using Interactive Maps


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Local historical societies and municipal historians fill an important role of building awareness and appreciation of their community’s resources, which they often achieve by producing unguided walking and driving tours of local points of interest. By recognizing these points of interest and inviting others to share their appreciation, we can often encourage local historical homeowners to keep a neat garden or persuade local cemetery managers to tidy up.


These are fundamental concepts in place-based tourism, but tourism relies on the premise that you are going to invite people from outside your community to share all that you have to offer and tourists need maps.

Designing and printing brochures can be expensive and mobile apps even more so, but by using the free mapping tools made available through Google we can create an interactive map that visitors can print, access on most smartphones and load into some GPS devices. Like Gmail, Google+, Picasa and Google Blogger, user-generated Google Maps is one of the many features available to those who have a free Google account. When you generate a map, you have the ability to load text, photos, video, HTML code, change the icons and map a route to generate depth of information that will renew appreciation of your local resources and make way finding easy. There are lots of pros and cons to creating this virtual experience.

Pros:
Free tools and non-renewable resources: No printing costs, no software costs and easy updates.

No Professionals Required: Google offers a number of help tools. Learn how to make a map: http://youtu.be/TftFnot5uXw.

View Counter:

It does not indicate if they are returning or unique visitors, but it gives you a measurable result.

Email,Share and make it Public: Compare to the distribution range of a paper brochure.

Cons:

You may not have to be a professional, but it will not be easy to create depth of information if you are not a computer savvy person with a working knowledge of YouTube and web albums.

How many people view your map is quite different from people that actually visit. Some GPS manufactures offer a plug-in for Google Maps that will allow the user to download the Points of Interest to their favorites. Others do not.

In the 21st Century, visitors go to their smartphones and not to the gas station attendant to ask for directions. Utilize the web and the free tools it has to offer to maximize your community experience. For an example of a Google-based interactive map, click here.