As an outreach tool founded on spatial analysis, sMap is closely linked to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). As such, input received through sMap can be treated as data, allowing for further analysis. Data collected through sMap can be imported into all desktop GIS technologies and programs. This allows a more mathematical and scientific approach to how input can be understood, studied, and applied across a broad spectrum of analysis.
By connecting individual feedback with specific locations, sMap identifies hotspots that reflect areas of concern and high concentrations of user activity. These “hotspots” help capture visual trends and help to better identify and understand the spatial impacts, influences, and significance of user identified issues, ideas, and input. These hotspots can be used to highlight areas on which attention and resources should be focused, or areas where success stories can he highlighted and celebrated.
In public outreach events, participants provide instant feedback by commenting on ideas, building on previous discussion, and voicing their own concerns – letting you and others know what they like and what they don’t like. To capture this same environment, sMap allows users to ‘vote’ on input provided by other participants, with the option to click ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ on individual points. This allows sMap to function as a forum, where participants can provide their opinion on a variety of ideas generated by other respondents, in a clear and concise manner.
sMap is designed to keep you up-to-date and informed of your projects as they progress over time. This can include regular email updates regarding project activity, such as new maps created or new points generated. sMap can also produce summaries and outputs that provide spatial data, allowing input from sMap to be applied to other programs. By allowing daily, weekly, and monthly reports to be generated and sent automatically, sMap can help you identify trends and respond to them in real time over the course of the project.
When using sMap, users are aided by the map legend which guides them as to the type of points and, generally, type of information they should be looking to provide. For a downtown plan points may include desirable uses or redevelopment sites, while a traffic study may include dangerous intersections or pedestrian amenities, and an environmental assessment may identify ecological systems and natural resources. Map legends in sMap are 100 percent customizable so that individual projects can be tailored to gather the necessary information. With the ability to customize map legends, sMap can be used to gather any kind of input and link a versatile range of data to spatial locations.
Individual and Shared Maps
Understanding that respondents can be greatly affected by outreach methods, sMap features both individual and “shared” map styles that offer unique environments for the user. Individual maps contain the points of a single individual, creating a closed environment in which input is unaffected by other respondents. “Shared” maps display all generated points from every user on a single map, creating an environment in which respondents can be influenced by prior input, and able to see others’ input at any time. These options help to meet the needs of a variety of projects, allowing sMap to act as a survey of individuals, a think tank for idea generation, a supplement to other outreach efforts, a mapped inventory for unlimited application, or a foundation for community engagement.
Responsive Web Design
Because people routinely use a variety of different devises to engage and stay informed, sMap was specifically designed to be compatible, easily viewable, and functional across a broad spectrum of devices. While other applications struggle with over-sized images, missing links, miss placed text and more, sMap is always easy to use and navigate. Functional on almost any device, sMap’s responsive web design offers the same experience across all technologies, ensuring the website is accessible and user-friendly for all its users.
We live in an age where information is shared and discussed through digital spaces online, and modern technology must be a part of those systems. sMap is fully integrated with the top social networking applications, enabling individuals to share maps and specific projects on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and email. This allows users to share their input and invite other’s to do the same, building a greater awareness of projects, encouraging participation, and reaching an ever expanding audience. sMap also provides single sign, allowing end users to sign in with their social media accounts.
Today, internet accessibility is key. Participants want easy access from a range of computers, tablets, and mobile devises. Utilizing cloud computing, sMap provides this accessibility, enabling participants and project managers to access sMap from anywhere through the internet. It requires no unique technology or dedicated installation to use, emphasizing easy access and utilization. Existing through the cloud, sMap aims to remove traditional barriers to outreach participation and helps to reach individuals on a local, regional, and even global scale, for the broadest possible level of participation.