July’s App of the Month: Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan Engagement Story Map

June 29, 2018 Mingsze Ho

Read this blog post to see how the Ministry of Energy in Ontario used geographic information system (GIS) technology to present findings from their extensive public engagement process in support of the province’s Long-Term Energy Plan.

After four months of conducting stakeholder sessions and public open houses in communities across the province, the Ministry released Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan Engagement Story Map, which presents an overview of the feedback they received from Ontarians.

The app uses Esri Story Maps, a powerful application for storytelling. It combines photos, narrative text, maps, video and other multimedia content into an interactive application that engages readers in your story.

The Ministry used the Story Map Journal template for their app. The story map starts with a home page, where they introduce the approaches used to engage the public in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan. It is then followed by a section for each approach.

When asked why the Ministry chose Story Maps, Manu Sud, manager for Analytics and Finance, notes, “Esri Story Maps satisfy our need to create an interactive piece for people to increase interaction with a dataset and harness the power of spatial analytics and maps. Being able to combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images and multimedia content creates a more appealing information product.”

The story map includes a web map of where the public engagement sessions took place. Each point on the map has a popup that summarizes the session information and the topics that were discussed. From looking at the map, you can see that public engagement efforts were not limited to one region but were spread out across Ontario. Beside the map, a side panel with narrative text provides more details about each engagement approach. They also embedded links to accessible versions of the information.

To further enrich their story, the Ministry used charts to summarize the topics discussed in each session. Notice in the image below that both popups contain a chart specific to the highlighted region.

The Ministry also effectively ended their story map with a video that gives a map tour of the public engagement sessions.

When asked about his experience building the story map, Manu explained, “The process was easy. However, since we wanted to add more pieces and more customized features and functionality, some programming was required which helped us incorporate more interesting parts into the story map.”

With the Story Map template being open source, their developer found the format and interface easy to customize to their needs.

The story map is an efficient and compelling way to increase transparency and share with the public the energy issues communities across the province feel strongly about. According to Manu, users have responded positively to the story map, which they’ve found easy to use, engaging and informative.

Explore Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan Engagement Story Map.

About the Author

Mingsze Ho

Mingsze Ho is a GIS Analyst for Esri Canada. Fascinated with displaying data in a spatial way, she focuses on generating story maps and other applications using Esri technology. She discovered her passion for maps when she started colouring and drawing maps in elementary school, and she was determined to become a cartographer. Mingsze loves how a map can illustrate the ways that certain features or phenomena affect human lives. While obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, she realized the world had moved on to digital maps. She was heartbroken initially, until she discovered the power of GIS and how it can be used to leverage both art and data to create beautiful, interactive maps. In her free time, Mingsze continues to draw maps. She just really likes maps.

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