Explore Heritage Resources with a Map Interface

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, October 31, 2016 11:31 AM

Maps are a wonderful way to explore a collection that has a geographic aspect. Zooming, panning and clicking pins are a fun and interactive means for users to discover resources, as well as to see the spatial relationship between them. 

Some example uses for a map interface are to plot items such as:

  • Photographs taken around the world.
  • Landmarks and historic places or streets.
  • Public art on city streets.
  • Artifacts found or manufactured in various locations.

Over the years, Andornot has added geographic features to many projects, ranging from very simple links to Google maps showing a single point, to dynamic applications that plot multiple records on a single map, scaling the map up and down as new resources are added to the underlying database.

Andornot's map interfaces can be added to our Andornot Discovery Interface as well as used with Inmagic WebPublisher PRO and our Andornot Starter Kit.

The examples below are intended to give you ideas for adding a map interface to your collection, ranging from full featured dynamic interfaces down to very simple links to Google Street Views.

Dynamic Map Interface

The Ontario Jewish Archives' Jewish Landmarks of Ontario is an excellent example of a dynamic map interface. Pins are drawn on an open source map based on the latitude and longitude in records in the underlying database.

The map automatically zooms out to encompass all the available pins, but users can easily zoom in to an area of particular interest, with the pins rearranging to show as many as can fit on the screen.

Any pin can be clicked to bring up more details about the location.

Using filters at the top of the interface, the range of pins shown can be limited by time period and category.

This particular map interface has the Andornot Discovery Interface behind it, for full-featured textual searching as well as geographic browsing.

Static Image Map

Not every organization has the budget for the dynamic map interface above, but can still add a geographic search option using static image maps. In web development, an image map is any image with coordinates applied to it. 

For example, in these maps of the City of Richmond, coordinates allow users to click on current and historic planning areas, as well as legal lot descriptions, to view associated records, which are themselves maps (yes, a map to search for a map!).

The Heritage Burnaby Charting Change Atlas is another example of static maps with overlaid data.

These static maps are relatively quick and simply to create, but do have the disadvantage of not scaling up or down in size for mobile devices. And of course, they don't show results on map, only the overall geographic area, so they don't give users a sense of how records are arranged geographically. But still, with minimal effort, they add a new starting point to any search.

Simple Map or Street View Link

Our last example shows a link in a single search result, for a building, to its location in a Google map. This doesn't help a user to search geographically, but can at least direct them to a physical place once they find something of interest. This could be combined with either of the above map interface ideas to provide more than one geographic feature.

GIS Systems, HistoryPin and More

If your organization has an existing GIS system, especially one made publicly available as is the case in many municipalities, you might be able to layer your cultural collections into that system. People can use all the features of the existing GIS system to search and browse your region, with the choice to enable a cultural layer showing information about artifacts, photos, buildings, etc. in your historic collections.

Another option to explore is to add content to web services that already have a mapping component, such as HistoryPin.

Most of the above ideas are based on your records having latitude and longitude information in them. It's not too hard to add this, based on place names. Andornot can help to "geocode" your data so it's ready for any of these map interface ideas.

As you can see with the above examples, there's a mapping option available for every budget and need, and for different types of collections.

Contact us to discuss giving a fun, interactive new face to any of your collections.

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