ArcGIS Online Tips: Make Awesome Story Maps from Your Smartphone in a Snap!

Every now and then you run into a program or app, well, that just plain works! It’s always a treat, particularly when the app is born out of a test project or R&D effort. I’ve encountered a few of these over the years, like Sports Tracker, an early sports tracking app from the Nokia Research Labs. There was Photosynth, an effort from Microsoft research (users could identify landmarks from a photo) and recently I decided to try Snap2Map from Esri – a clever app that came out of the Esri Labs.

Snap2Map by Esri Labs  is a native app that allows you to upload geo-tagged photos directly from your phone or tablet to create a place-based narrative as an interactive Map Tour. Then, you can share it with others!  The photos uploaded are hosted in your ArcGIS Organization as feature services. Each new Map Tour will use a new web map and a new web app is registered and configured to work with the web map and photos. As always, you can log into your organization using a browser and configure or modify the Map Tour app as needed.

Snap2Map is a supported app from Esri (by this I mean, if you reach out via Twitter you will get some help from an Esri team member who is eager to assist you) , however, it seems to be something that no many people talk about and Esri doesn’t really tout it much any more (it hit the iTunes store in 2014) – I believe that’s because the technology is a couple of years old now and likely isn’t being updated. The cool thing about Snap2Map though is that it’s easy to use, serves a purpose, and basically, it just works! (Funny, when I boasted online that I had created a Snap2Map app and Esri member reached out asking me about it, and seemingly a bit surprised that I was using the older technology). Note, are you interested in seeing other apps that Esri is working on? Checkout the Applications Prototype Lab (apl)

Esri’s Story Map Technology has evolved tremendously recently. Now, more than ever, it’s easier than ever for anyone to create and share a geotagged Story Map, putting your media (photos, video) on a map, making it available in ArcGIS Online, and sharing with family and friends. Oh, and best of all, no coding is required! We all carry our smartphones with us, recording our memories and special events. Most people tend to Tweet or Instagram their photos, often without any geographic context though. Additionally, these social updates are merely in the moment, getting archived and pushed further back in your timeline with every passing day. However, for those of you with an ArcGIS Online account, storing and sharing your photos and telling a story of your adventure is very simple thanks to the Snap2Map mobile app for ArcGIS.

Using Snap2Map you can easily author a fun Story Map (Map Tour). Simply create a new Map in the app, Select your photos (make sure you have enabled GPS location as “on” in your camera settings),  edit captions and titles, publish, Share!

To create your own Story Map simply follow the steps:

  • Enable GPS location tagging on your smartphone (or mobile device) see your camera/location settings
  • Walk around and snap amazing photos
  • Get yourself an ArcGIS Online account (named user/org account, or a developer account) Note: You must be part of ArcGIS Organization and login as “Publisher” or “Administrator” role to create new Map Tours or use the free Developer Account.
  • Load the Snap2Map mobile app from Esri on your smartphone – available from Google Play and iTunes Store
  • Once finished and back home or at the office Create a New Map Tour
  • Select photos to share from your Gallery
  • Verify location of photos (some may be missing GPS EXIF data)
  • Name your photos and add descriptions (optional)
  • Create your Map Tour
  • Share!

Create new Map Tour using Snap2Map

Once your Story Map Tour has been created, users can then easily edit and build upon the app within ArcGIS Online. Additionally, using WebApp builder templates, the tour and accompanying data can be used to create a simple app that is friendly on any mobile platform – and no coding required! Note, if you aren’t sure what to do with your photos, try creating a free Flickr account. If you upload GPS tagged photos to a flickr gallery you can easily import them into a Story Map at a later time – very handy! Best of all, your story map is stored within your aRcGIS Online account along with all your other data, maps, and apps. Recall, if you then want to make your app available to others within your org you can use our Tools  to share it with groups, add tags, provide other user access rules and more!

The image from the Story Map Tour below was captured and created entirely on Android smartphone. Enjoy a photo map tour of a summer drive from Colorado to the Pacific NorthWest.

from snap2map to story map tour
from snap2map to story map tour – See the Map Tour HERE

Those wanting a lesson in Snap2Map see this tutorial from Esri that walks you through creating an app.

Snap2Map is available in the iTunes store (iOS) and Google Play (for Android) – See more about Snap2Map HERE

The SHINE Program of Luzerne County at Wilkes University is geared to grades K-8th and focuses on a project – based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) curriculum. Check out these maps from SHINE to see how they’ve been using Snap2Map

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GEOspatial Evangelist & CMO

Geographer, GIS professional, writer, and fan of all things mobile.

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