Technology

Mapping to Educate Students on Discounts

In an effort to bring student discounts to the many thousands of students in the South Loop in Chicago, I plan on going to the many retail, restaurant and businesses that offer student discounts.

By using Google Map I can make my own map of businesses in the loop that offer student discounts. By taking the photo and making their location, students will be able to have a visual map of all the locations that can save them some extra dough.

Here is a quick tutorial on creating a Google Map for a San Francisco walking tour:

First, let’s look into the benefits of mapping or visualizations within an article or story.

“Maps are good for showing geographic data, concentrations of data, and data geographically relevant to the reader,” stated an article by RTNDA (Radio Television Digital News Association)

“By showing the water systems of all the areas that are at risk of running water since the state [Texas] has been under a drought…for the reader, this allows them to grasp and compare which areas are being drastically affected.”

Some developers of mapping tools, like Development Seed, have allowed broadcast and news outlets visually explain and educate the audience with data filled maps.

“Development Seed has the attention of some national and international news outlets. The company has worked with news producers at NPR, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today and Radio Free Asia,” stated American Journalism Review.

“And, company officials say the market for news mapping is about to expand, given recent advances in tools and services that allow anyone with knowledge of backend design to build highly visual and detailed data maps.”

In 2007, wildfires charred through Southern California, bringing many residents to their computers in search for information. In a piece by ORJ: The Online Journalism Review, Robert Niles examined the news outlets types of coverage of the wildfires.

SignOnSanDiego.com’s fire map

“Fire coverage has become routine for Southern California newsrooms,” Niles explained. “The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer and the San Diego Union-Tribune won an Online Journalism Award…But the latest fires inspired a welcome innovation in local newsrooms’ coverage: the use of interactive Google Maps to chart the fires and their damage.”

He reports that more than 3.5 million people logged on to the Los Angele Time and the San Diego Union-Tribune to view the fire maps.

According to Google Maps Product Manager, Jessica Lee, users have created over 4 million maps over the last 6 month, and that was in 2007.

Here are a list of My Maps that were used to show natural disasters and current events in 2007.

BBC Berkshire: Flood Map — When floods struck the Berkshire region of the UK, the BBC created a map with photos, YouTube videos, and radio correspondence.

Minneapolis I-35W Bridge Collapse — When the I-35W Bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, someone created a map with photos, news, hospital information and prayer service locations.

Missouri Flood map — When torrential rain caused levees to break along the Missouri River near Kansas City, someone made a map of flood forecasts, water level information, and hydrographs.

Ware County Wildfire Map — A wildfire raged in Southern Georgia for a month, devastating 128 square miles of Ware and northern Charlton counties. Someone created a fire map for Ware County.

Oakland Maze Closure — When a tanker filled with 8,600 gallons of gasoline exploded and destroyed part of a heavily trafficked freeway overpass in Oakland, CA, several news outlets and individuals created maps showing alternate routes.

University Bridge water main break — When a large water main burst under the University Bridge in Seattle, it created a sinkhole and the bridge had to be closed. Someone made a simple news map of the event.

Users have created over 4 million maps over the last 6 months. Natural disaster maps are a fairly small portion of all the maps. Most are hobby maps or travel maps.

The New York Times shadowed Ron Ringen, a retired veterinarian, who “Nearly every week for the last seven months…has driven the roads north of this college town near Sacramento, scanning the pavement for telltale bits of fur and feathers.”

Noah Berger for The New York Times

With Ringen’s efforts, in 2009 the Web site — www.wildlifecrossing.net/california — was the first statewide effort to map roadkill using citizen observers. Volunteers combed the state’s highways and country roads for dead animals, collecting GPS coordinates, photographs and species information and uploading it to a database and Google map populated with dots representing the kills. The site’s gruesome gallery includes photos of flattened squirrels or squashed skunks.

As Danny Bradbury, a freelance technology writer for the Guardian and the Financial Times, states in his blog, “It’s easy to imagine more complex uses of Google maps for your own stories. I’m hoping to do something on the environmental impact of Uranium mining in northern Saskatchewan, for example.”

Bradbury continues by stating, “Google map might be the perfect way to illustrate the path of a product (how does that mango get to your door in the suburbs of Chicago? How many food miles are involved? How old is it by the time it reaches you?) Writing an article on the US nuclear weapons complex and how it’s still thriving? What about a Google map of the various installations around the country, from Livermore through Pantex to Savannah River?”

Getting back to student discounts. I can use all this research and information about Google Maps and mapping in general to create my own map of the businesses in the South Loop of Chicago to inform and educate students that there are many ways of saving some extra cash with a simple student ID.

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