Winning Ways: Telling Stories with Maps

Recent Edinburgh Geographical Information Science graduates Livia Jakob and Miles McConville entered the Esri 2018 ‘Storytelling with Maps Contest’ and won 1st and 2nd place in the Culture, History, and Events category.

Story telling with maps is part of the Visual Analytics course, a course from the MSc portfolio offered by the School of GeoSciences led by senior lecturer Dr William Mackaness. As part of this course, a task is set that requires students to tell a story through a mix of media, maps, graphics and sound. The task involves the use of web based mapping tools. The story can be on any topic; the story must be coherent, compelling, interactive, and above all sustain and reward the reader. The task is no different from the challenges of telling of any good story, but with the additional challenge of incorporating geographic dimensions through the use of thematic mapping, timelines and graphics in order to convey physical and human landscapes.

Students are encouraged to submit their work to an Annual International Story Telling competition organised and judged by ESRI ( ESRI, based in California (USA), is an international supplier of GIS software and applications. Students from the MSc in GIS have won prizes in previous years. Livia comes from Switzerland, where she did her degree in Geography and Computer Science at the University of Bern. She is now working for Professor Iain Woodhouse. Miles is Scottish and worked in outdoor education before returning to Edinburgh. After recently completing his MSc in August he has joined the Edinburgh GIS team as a Teaching Assistant.

Pay or Die? – Prison or Cemetery?

Livia’s 1st place Storymap titled “Pay or Die? – Prison or Cemetery?” tells the story of gang culture and perspectives of children and young adults in El Salvador. Below is a mosaic of images from Livia’s story map. The project can be viewed at:

It Took A Fire

Miles’ Storymap was titled “It Took a Fire” and tells the story of the Grenfell tower fire and its links with social inequality in London. Mosaic of images from Miles’ story map. The project can be viewed at:

Hans Rosling taught us the importance of truth in story telling ( and demonstrated the capacity of interactive technologies and visualisation techniques to erode ignorance and challenge bigoted views. Story Maps seek to do the same.