“Mapping L.A. Neighborhoods” is one of my favorite interactive maps because it undertakes the nearly impossible task of determining the boundaries of neighborhoods within Los Angeles. There is no central database for the boundaries, so the L.A. Times must interact with the public, who must write about where they live. In this way, the map does not simply combine maps with data, but serves as an interface for the public to understand the city in which they live.
The introduction to the page is far out, showing the entire Los Angeles metropolitan region and then dividing them in to large super neighborhoods, like Westside and South L.A. At this point you can not zoom into a specific region, you must select it from a menu from the right part of the screen. I don’t know if they did this for practical reasons because the transition from super neighborhoods to smaller neighborhoods was too difficult, or if they found that it served the ease of interface. In any case, it does not detract very much from the use of the site.
Once you select a super neighborhood the next level gives you the a similar screen also without the option of zooming in or out. At this level I feel this option would actually be helpful because it would give you the option of comparing where the boundaries meet up. While they provide demographic information separate from the map a the bottom of the page, it would be nice if it were somehow incorporated into the map itself. As it is now, you just float your mouse over the region and it darkens the entire area and an info box pops up with basic information. It is difficult to compare regions side by side.
Likewise, at the closest level it would be nice for there to be a way to compare demographics to surrounding regions. There is a simple single line tracing the outline of the region. It feels as if they could have done more with this, like possibly highlight the contested boundaries, have an option to view zip codes and the accompanying demographic data for those zip codes.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy map offers information about many of the resources and services near and around the trail. Aesthetically, the map is not very attractive. A single red line traces the ridge of the Appalachians and the text and graphics showing options of activating layers to reveal resources look outdated and clunky.
Zooming in gives you no additional information: the same awkward overly red line. Plus, when you activate the resource layers at the bottom (parking, shelters, etc), the icons are simplistic and by activating the info window, the information ranges from a plain link to another page to what appear to be recent updates of parking information. If the parking information is accurate, this is indeed a useful option. I’m curious to know whether or not it’s linked to some sort of center or it’s the responsibility of a ranger or attendant to update the information as they go along. Plus, I wonder if this is available on a mobile app. Not many trail tourists are bound to be connected to a full computer as they drive along.
For an organization focused on conservancy, there isn’t much related to this topic. It would be nice if they could incorporate other information like regions threatened with development. The interface isn’t anything special. The most attractive elements are those inherent to Google Maps itself.