Home Blogs Best story maps of 2019

Best story maps of 2019

A look at some of the finest depictions of the year covering subjects ranging from global livestock production, Vietnam bombing to the geography of wine.  

Maps are more than mere diagrams — they not only help us in finding our way from Point A to Point B, they enable us to understand and explore the world around us. Another very important thing that maps often do is they tell stories. Maps with stories, or ‘story maps’, are web maps that are specially created to provide context to an information, so that they become a standalone resource. Simply put, these maps bring together legends, text, photos and videos to present interactive narratives that engage users and provide instantly accessible geographic context to something.

Although they are a recent breakthrough, story maps are today being widely used by people from different walks of life — from journalists to scientists — to convey their point lucidly. That’s because almost every story has a geographic component. From depicting landmarks of the anti-slavery movement in NYC to the countries to ban the Boeing 737 Max 8 (after Ethiopian Airlines crash that claimed over 150 lives), 2019 saw several interesting story maps that left an impression on the readers/viewers. Here is a list of some of the finest story maps of the year.

Animal numbers

Esri map on livestock
This beautiful map by Esri gives us a look at livestock production around the world

Ever wondered if the population of ducks exceeds the total number of pigs in the world? Or if wild animals outnumber those domesticated. The answers to these questions certainly make for interesting information, while highlighting the ways in which animal domestication is directly connected to human development. The term ‘livestock’ includes domesticated animals that are raised for resources like meat, milk and ages, or to provide services like transportation or cultivation assistance. Although livestock are raised and consumed throughout the world, these animals are not distributed evenly across the planet. This beautiful map by Esri gives us a look at livestock production around the world.

Bombs of the past

Vietnam bombing story map
A highly descriptive map put together by Esri shows almost every bombing mission executed between 1965 and 1975

Believe it or not, in a decade starting from 1965, the United States of America, along with its allies, dropped more than 7.5 million tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. These bombs were double the amount dropped on Europe and Asia during World War II. Till date, it remains the largest aerial bombardment in human history. The US Department of Defense in 2016 released records of almost every bombing and ground-attack mission flown during the Vietnam War. A highly descriptive map put together by Esri shows almost every bombing mission executed between 1965 and 1975. At the outset, the US did not wish to engage in a full-fledged war against North Vietnam, as it feared condemnation from the international community due to high civilian casualties. So, the forces initially adopted a tactical bombing strategy, dispatching small-and-medium-sized bombs. However, later, frustrated by mounting losses and the guerrillas’ resilience, US forces went all out, unleashing huge formations of heavy B-52 bombers on North Vietnamese cities.     

Fight for freedom

slavery story map
The Landmarks Preservation Commission has released a highly interactive story map showing the designated NYC landmarks connected with the abolitionist movement

For nearly two centuries, (1626-1827), New York City was home to most African slaves in America. But after the abolition of slavery, the city witnessed many anti-slavery activists that took the form of a movement. Now, after 400 years, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has released a highly interactive story map showing the designated NYC landmarks connected with the abolitionist movement. The story map, New York City and the Path to Freedom, shows the history of the abolitionist movement by examining activities at now-designated landmarks across the five boroughs.

The ‘where’ of wine

wine story map
Esri has prepared a breathtaking map of the geography of wine,
delivering Location Intelligence to the US wine industry

Simply put, the mere geography of a wine sometimes determines its fineness. There are a lot of things that make a wine unique, and some of them are connected with its geography — temperature, climate, elevation and soil type. In the United States, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) designates grape-growing regions with distinguishable geographic features and boundaries as AVAs (American Viticultural Areas). There are 242 established AVAs in the United States, with California having the most (139), and no two regions are alike — AVAs mostly differ in size: from a small region to an area spanning multiple states.

Blue Raster has prepared a breathtaking map using Esri ArcGIS of the geography of wine, delivering Location Intelligence to the US wine industry.

Also Read: Unfolding marvellous mysteries — Best Esri story maps of 2018