Why Use a Map?
Doucett: “Today we’re going to be talking about examples that are relevant to both cities and towns, but also at the higher level, the regional or statewide level. All these entities have websites and all of them have information that’s really valuable for your constituents. So what can we map? As GIS users, we like to think about data as a collection of points, lines, or polygons, and with these geometric representations we can cover almost all of the physical and built world. But maps are no longer a specialty tool, and they have become an integral part of so many familiar applications that they’re almost a language in and of themselves.”
While maps are an ancient tool, they have only become highly accessible and common in public use recently. This recent shift towards mapping in everyday life has meant that often governments and their public-facing applications have been left behind. While governments frequently use maps internally, their external public-facing use is lacking. Having a visual map component is a highly efficient and accessible form of information. Maps can transcend language and help users better visualize the spatial relationships between different points, in a way that an address or other non visual information struggle to do. To ensure that services can be accessed by all constituents and to make it easier for them to do so governments need to incorporate mapping into their services.
Why Google Maps?
Google Maps Platform is already used by many governments for other uses, making it easy to apply it to public-facing applications. Additionally, Google Maps Platform is the most used mapping service which has over a billion users monthly and is updated millions of times a day. This gives it a wealth of data to draw from and provide the most accurate and up-to-date information available. The vast infrastructure that Google has behind this platform brings scalability and security that are exceptionally difficult to recreate through other means. Consumers also benefit from this high level of use because they will often be familiar with Google Maps Platform from other applications, reducing confusion and increasing accessibility further.
Google Maps Platform is broken up into three main APIs: maps, routes, and places. Maps represents the GIS imaging component, presenting real time images of actual places. Routes is the directions component, providing routing data. Places is the geocoding component linking search results to physical locations.
How can an Effective Services Locator Application be Built?
There are three main keys to creating an effective services locator application for public facing use. The first is to simplify and declutter your application! Ensuring that the application is straightforward and intuitive is essential for public use, as even the least tech savvy constituents still require government services. Using the Google Maps Platform helps in this effort, as many constituents will be familiar with its basic use. The second key is to focus on increasing performance. Having load times of one second or less is absolutely essential for keeping users engaged on the service. The third key is to reduce redundant API usage within the application itself. By minimizing API calls and double charges for autocomplete, you can get more bang for your buck with the Google Maps Platform.
To get the most out of your Google Maps Platform however, it is essential to partner with a certified partner such as AppGeo. AppGeo can help you incorporate your existing data into the Google Maps Platform, handle key services, and ensure your applications are as streamlined and efficient as possible.
Want more ways to get the most out of Google Maps? Check out our other Google Maps webinar highlights and soundbites!