The good, the bad and what to avoid with local government maps

Most local governments have difficulty keeping their residents informed about what is happening in their city. Keeping residents up to date on things like road construction, public work projects, infrastructure upgrades, road closures, daily snow removal prioritization and waste management schedules can be an administrative nightmare.

Since local governments are essentially responsible to provide local services and infrastructure management for communities, their activities lend well to organizing themselves overtop a map. Therefore, local governments have invested in Geospatial Information Systems to help organize their records and projects.

Traditionally, residents would be mailed information periodically, they would call in or residents would stay up-to-date by watching local news - requiring call centers and frequent press releases. But, with social media and consumers staying informed about local news online instead, communicating with your residents has changed.

Here’s a breakdown of a few web map designs u the good and the bad of 5 local governments who are keeping their residents informed online.

The bad:

Multi-Usage Web Map

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Traditionally, GIS developers have gone with a holistic approach to providing information to their residents by hosting all of their content on a single app. Lately, there’s a shift in design to build out single use web maps with a single focused purposes. Whether that’s to inform residents of garbage pick-up times or snow removal, switching to a single page app has seen an average increase in engagement of 35%.


The good:

Single-Usage Web Mapalt

In this example, although total traffic might go down as a whole, bounce rates are lowered and activities increase on average by 20%.

This is very telling. It’s clear that moving from an information dump approach to single usage increases engagement.

Moreover, single usage web map apps make it much easier for cross-functional departments stay informed about current projects and allow for more efficient planning. For example, having one central location for all road construction and road closures in one central database, allows different departments from police closures, filming closures or road construction are inputted in one database and placed into an interactive map, creating an easy-to-understand visual interpretation of the data. Even better, that data is open to everyone, city officials or regular citizens curious about how long their streets will be closed.

New York City Road Closure Mapalt New York City's road closure web map demonstrates the ease-of-use of a single purpose web map. With just a few clicks, a visitor is able to identify exactly which roads are closed off due to construction. There's very little clutter. It serves one purpose and visitors are able to quickly get the information they need.



What to avoid:

List views alt

In this example, there's a lists of road closures. This provides a poor user experience, requiring the user to read one-by-one and makes the information less digestible.

No Clear Call To Actionalt

A common issue with web map apps is a long a discovery process of its intent and features. Shortening the time that it takes for a user to understand the information that's being displayed is key to having low bounce rates. Having clear Call-To-Actions that identifies the solution to your visitors pain points helps clarify why the user is there.