The fusion of Social Media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube with web maps opens up some exciting possibilities. The session I presented at Ozri earlier today on Social Media & Maps explored some of the opportunities this brings, and the challenges that come with them.
After pausing to consider what we actually mean by Social Media, and what it is in terms of a source of data, we looked at some real-world examples where Tweets, YouTube videos and images from Flickr have been incorporated in to public facing web mapping applications. The apps in this category that have had the highest visibility have tended to be focused on response to emergencies or disasters, and for good reason. However the scope for this blend of unstructured and structured data is wider than that.
A template from the Esri Local Government Resource Centre was demonstrated as example of that non-emergency use case. The Public Information Centre app brought together operational data from a local government agency, structured input from local citizens, and unstructured content from Social Media channels.
So what’s the catch? Well all these apps displayed data on the map that carried with it specific geographic information indicating where the data was created. In other words, the contributor allowed that geo-tagging to occur when they submitted their Tweet or photo. We knew where they were when they did it.
That’s not always the case though. Using an application from the Esri Prototype Lab, we illustrated how when for example you search using the Twitter API you get back varying degrees of “geo”. The data you can actually plot on a map may only be a subset of what you got back from a search. Exploring that further, we looked at how you could still make some sense of location even if with less specific location information.
To wrap up the session we took the express path to creating an app that brings in Social Media data using ArcGIS Online. In 3 steps, we were able to publish a web app that displayed information from Twitter on our map.
Thanks to everyone who attended, and for your great questions.
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