PDS’ Northern Kentucky Map Lab (NKYmapLAB) initiative that was begun earlier this year is quickly developing a wealth of illustrative looks at Kenton County issues. They range from Baseball Across Northern Kentucky (a tie in to Major League Baseball’s 2015 All Star Game) to an analysis of tree canopy across the county.
NKYmapLAB’s goal is to keep residents, the business community, and elected and appointed officials informed using its wealth of data. Among its emphases are: 1) long range planning projects that are part of Direction 2030 implementation; 2) quality of life issues in cities and throughout Kenton County; and, 3) support county economic development projects as requested.
LINK-GIS has been building its data base since 1986; what started as a partnership to map utility locations for public health concerns has grown into a regional GIS system responsible for roughly six terabytes of data (6,000 gigabytes).
As the data base grows larger and more complex, it takes on some of the challenges often found with other “big data” systems. Those challenges are typically how to best share, analyze, and visualize the information that is constantly accumulating. NKYmapLAB is a direct response to that issue.
NKYmapLAB aims to analyze a wide variety of this data and present it in a more visual format that facilitates better understanding by the public and its elected leaders. Topics to date have included:
- Energy Efficient Construction in Kenton County
- Current Conditions of Kenton County Bridges
- Walkability: Sidewalk Connectivity in Kenton County
- Parks of Kenton County
- KY-536 Traffic Patterns
- Urban Tree Canopy
- Baseball Across The Region: Northern Kentucky
One of the primary outcomes of each project is a large-format map, usually 3’ x 4’, which is used for display at meetings, open houses, and other public display areas. These maps provide findings, talking points, and high-level topic overviews useful to, residents, citizens, elected and appointed officials, and the public.
In addition to large-format maps, NKYmapLAB has started using Esri’s Story Map platform to provide users with a more interactive online experience of each topic, when appropriate. The Story Map format is valuable because it guides users through a topic sequentially, introducing key concepts and new points of information along the way.
Story Maps use geography and location (the key component of GIS) as a means of organizing and presenting information. They tell the story of a place, event, issue, trend, or pattern in a geographic context. They combine interactive maps with other rich content—text, photos, video, and audio—for a user experience that is basic and intuitive.
While many Story Maps are designed for general, non-technical audiences, some can also serve highly specialized audiences. They use the tools of GIS, and often present the results of spatial analysis, but don’t require their users to have any special knowledge or skills in GIS. This has resulted in rapid adoption of Story Maps across all industries.
NKYmapLAB is also available on Twitter @NKYmapLAB.