Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A New Interactive Map Of Washington County


Washington County launched a wonderful interactive webmap a couple months ago.

Created for the county by Jimapco in Round Lake, NY, the map is user friendly and playful, and includes amenities such as dining, lodging and services as well as attractions like covered bridges, agri-tourism and arts.  It also includes several ‘tours’ in and around the county, including fiber, maple, beverage (aka wine and beer!) and walking and bike tours for selected locations.   This map has several other nice features like dropdown lists for each layer that allow you to quickly zoom to attractions and information packed popups that will even give you driving directions.

County tourism administrator Christine Hoffer said the map will help the county in a number of ways.   First, making maps available electronically reduces the need to print and distribute costly paper maps.  The digital map is also much easier to keep current because updates are simpler and less time consuming.  Perhaps most vitally, the map is part of Christine’s push to encourage prospective visitors to travel through Washington County instead of taking quicker routes like Interstate 87.   Like all (effective) maps, this map uses the power of visualization to produce a memorable, visceral impression on the viewer.  After interacting with this map for just a few minutes, I was left thinking “wow—I never knew there was so much to do in Washington County!”

Part of the effectiveness of the map comes from its design.  Paul Hein at Jimapco spoke with me a bit about the design considerations that went into the map.  The custom background map was created in-house to highlight the county in a visually distinctive way that didn’t just look like another Google Map.  Travel corridors such as 40 and 22 are also highlighted in the custom basemap.

For me, one of the most exciting and promising things about this map is that is uses popular (and free!) technologies such as Leaflet.js, a javascript library for making mobile-friendly web maps, and SQLite, a free database that allows you to store map information and share it online.  Many web developers, including myself, use these same tools, meaning that the data could potentially feed multiple maps.  To illustrate this idea, I’m currently working on a ‘mashup’ map that will bring in data from several sources, including this Washington County site.  I hope to follow up with another post soon describing how this can be done, and the promise it holds for the collaborative mapping in the Adirondacks.


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Steve Signell is the owner of Frontier Spatial, L.L.C., an Adirondack-based company offering mapping and data services. He splits his time between Schenectady and Long Lake, where he punctuates his time at the computer with stints on the fiddle and banjo.

2 Responses

  1. Tony DiChiro says:

    I was so excited to see this piece of information this morning as I opened my Adirondack Almanack. I grew up in Hudson Falls. I now live in Columbia, Mo. but still, and always will, consider the Adirondacks my home.
    My wife and I are traveling back there for the Annual Balloon Festival in Queensbury. This map will be a great source of information as we plan our time back home.
    I don’t know how cutting edge this technology and application is, but I would love to see this applied to other areas, such as Missouri. We have a great conservation dept. and this would be great for us frequent outdoor people.
    Just wanted to say thanks for developing this tool. I know I and many others will find it very helpful.
    Coach T.

  2. Agree, nicely done Paul. And we love leaflet as well, it is used to code our interactive map of the Adirondack Park.

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