Redlands, Calif. — Esri announced that Esri Story Maps won the Gold Medal award for Best Digital Map Product and Best Overall Map Product at the International Map Industry Association (IMIA)—Americas conference. Esri Story Maps' ability to easily serve maps and accurate demographic information covering a wide range of topics along with its well-crafted cartography were top reasons the application won the awards.

IMIA held the conference Sep. 9–11, 2012, in Albuquerque, N.M., with attendees involved in all aspects of the mapping industry. A select group of industry leaders attending the conference judged the competition.

"Storytelling is rapidly becoming one of the most important reasons that organizations use web maps," said Allen Carroll, program manager for ArcGIS Online content and team lead for Esri Story Maps. "The result is that GIS is emerging from the back office and becoming accessible—and useful—to everyone. The need for GIS to analyze, plan, manage and support decisions remains vital, but organizations now perceive the need to tell the story of their analyses, plans and decisions."

Esri Story Maps combines narration and rich media content in interactive maps to help people discover and understand patterns and relationships that exist in the world. Esri began producing the story maps to support storytelling techniques, tools and best practices. These story maps have spurred the development of templates and other resources, and now GIS professionals, web developers, graphics specialists and others can build and publish their own story maps.

One example is U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which recently released development data—including guarantees, loans disbursed and available financing—in a story map. By displaying information in this manner, complex data can be viewed together, providing better insight for the private sector to explore new areas for collaboration with host countries, researchers, development organizations and the public.