News Stories

Online “Story Map” helps explain District’s Navigation mission

Published Sept. 6, 2018

   U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Wilmington District cartographer Dennis Moran has always had a fascination with maps and map making.  He graduated from University North Carolina Wilmington with a bachelor of science in environmental sciences, and minored in Geosciences where his interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) began to grow.  Because of his work in the Navigation Branch using GIS, he tries to stay abreast of technical advances and applications in the areas of mapping and geospatial sciences.  This led him to research some software that he envisioned would help to explain the District’s navigation mission more effectively.  

   “During my studies of ArcGIS Online, I discovered how various industries were creating ‘Story Maps’ to promote their business lines, so I figured that we could do the same for USACE,” Moran explained.  “A Story Map is a tool that allows the viewer to see a combination of interactive maps, illustrations, narrative text and other multimedia content in the format of an informative story.  I thought that I could start by creating a Story Map that provides a brief overview of the Wilmington District’s Navigation Branch program.” 

   Moran said that over the years, the Navigation Branch section members have done a great job capturing photos of various projects and efforts, and he thought what better way to use some of the pictures than to include them in the overview story.  The goal was to create something simple and clear, something that had a user friendly experience, which showed a full, yet brief, overview of the District’s Navigation Branch capabilities.

   “I started the project by creating an outline and gathering relevant multimedia, then I created a few interactive maps to embed within the story,” said Moran.  “This allowed me to figure out how I wanted the story laid out, which ultimately helped me in choosing the correct story map application for the job.  The intent was to inform the public of the general mission, vision, and tasks Navigation Branch performs each day, through a series of illustrations and maps. Through the use of the District’s enterprise ArcGIS Online account, I was able to create the story map and provide access via the current Navigation Branch website.”

   Moran noted that as the evolution of ArcGIS Desktop continues to advance to online platforms, he takes time to explore ArcGIS Online for other ideas.  ArcGIS Online, he said, is a comprehensive online approach to where people can build and share interactive maps and spatial data, or expand their work with other ArcGIS products.  With the success of the Story Map, he’s confident that the project will further explain the complex Navigation Branch’s mission more easily and possibly lead to the creation of other useful Story Maps. 

  “My hope is that the application will reveal some of the projects our program supports, show the range of resources we possess, and highlight some of the efforts our field staff routinely performs,” he said.

   To view the Story Map go to the following link; www.saw.usace.