Why we love it
How do we get our heads around the fact that there are 7.5 billion people on the planet? This remarkably rich and beautiful story map (and companion print poster) slices the data of human activity—from shipping intensity to explosive growth in megacities—helping us see a "human footprint." We love how the mapmaker keeps us engaged by creatively mixing 2D and 3D maps with density surfaces, proportional symbols, comparison maps, and flyovers.
Why it works
Rather than present the complete, complex final analysis, this sequence of maps introduces the data variables one by one, taking us on a guided tour of key places around the world. Historic data further allows us to understand the context and how rapidly things have changed. This map works by showing us the patterns and explaining why those patterns exist. The ultraminimalist poster goes one step further, removing labels and basemaps to bring the data front and center.
Cooper Thomas is a cartographer and product designer on the ArcGIS StoryMaps team. A displaced Oregonian living in Washington, DC, Thomas is a forager of cultural sustenance, a fair-weather motorcyclist and a one-time expert on Kyrgyz supermarkets.