ESRI’s Free Maps
Following a slightly critical post about the map featured on ESRI’s Geomedicine website I thought I would balance things with a post on a good example (in my opinion) of a mapping service from ESRI. I was really impressed with their Free Embeddable Maps website. Users can select from a number of demographic measures such as population density, median age, average household size and population change between 2000 and 2009 and map them at a range of scales. Maps can be personalised using a title and direct links to the creator’s website or their email address. My map of New York Median Household Income is here. It would be good to get more data and coverage beyond North America. It would also be nice to enable multiple overlays (perhaps using different forms of representation on the map). The page is only beta so these additions may follow.
I know this kind of thing has been done before, such as with the London Profiler Website, but ESRI’s contribution is remarkably simple to use. Users with no GIS experience will be able to create a map in under a minute. It can then be embedded in a any web page or linked to via bit.ly. The interface is well-thought out and users can read additional information from the pop-outs that appear when the map when they click on an area of interest. The maps deserve to be utilised by a range of users, but I expect educators and their students stand to benefit most from this excellent free service.