3 Mapping Technologies for Demonstrating Global Reach

September 07, 2012 Mike Weisert

Many of our clients at One North have capabilities that span the globe. When trying to convey their global reach, simply showing office locations or listing countries doesn’t paint the full picture. This need to convey global reach has translated into an interest in experience mapping and visualization technologies which help potential customers envisage a global firm, regardless of the office footprint. Below are 3 compelling technologies for visualizing global reach:

  1. Google Maps

    Let’s start with one of the most well known and robust mapping systems available. Google Maps is a powerful mapping interface for guiding your visitor around the globe. What you may not know is how customizable the platform has become. A more traditional, but effective, Google Map can be seen on the InterAction Haiti Relief website. This site visualizes projects within the country and allows the user to focus within a specific province.

    Several sites are now doing impressive image overlays, custom graphics, guided tours, controls and other enhancements which blur the lines between a traditional map and an interactive experience. A great example of pushing the boundaries with Google Maps can be seen on the VisitPhilly.com website.
  2. OpenStreetMap (OSM)

    Think of OpenStreetMap as the Wikipedia of the online maps world. People around the world contribute to the data of OSM to keep it up to date. The data is completely open source, meaning you can download the entire data set (around 22GB) and host your own mapping system. Why do this? You may find your application requires a costly license from Google or Microsoft if you do not meet their requirements for the free version. There are also several enhancement libraries built around OSM which can be leveraged, such as Leaflet..

    Leaflet Examples
    Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/map
    Wall Street Journal Election Map: http://projects.wsj.com/campaign2012/maps/#r=pres&v=states
  3. WebGL

    This technology is not quite ready for a production website, as it is still an evolving standard. As of this post, you’ll need to use Chrome to view the site. WebGL is a way of creating 3D graphics within the browser without a plugin (such as Adobe Flash). To highlight the capabilities of the Chrome web browser, Google has created the WebGL Globe project as an platform for visualization. Several examples can be seen on their site: http://www.chromeexperiments.com/globe

    In this example, shown on the site HTML5 Rocks, we see that adding markers and other customizations to the WebGL Globe could create a highly compelling and interesting way for your visitors to interact with your experience records.

Displaying experience locations on a Google map is a great start for demonstrating global reach. When you can enhance that experience to make it a truly compelling tool, your site visitors will think less about bricks & mortar offices and more about your organization’s global capabilities.

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Mike Weisert

At the time of publishing, Mike was a Senior Strategist at One North.

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