I have been writing articles for different job interviews and applications. This one is my favorite and worth sharing, in my opinion :) Oh, and happy news - I accepted a job offer today in NYC!
Traditionally, maps have helped people navigate distance. Point A to Point B. A simple visual representation that is typically two-dimensional and never interactive. When Lewis and Clark set out in 1804, they spent over two years exploring and mapping the Western half of the continent. With maps, sketchbooks and journals in hand, the expedition could have really used a few smart phones.
Fifteen years ago, GPS mapping was introduced for everyday consumers through devices like the Garmin, which saved time and headaches while driving. Soon after, user-friendly apps were developed on smart phones eliminating the need for separate devices.
Today, new mapping technology is emerging to help navigate aspects of business, education, environment, media, history and humanitarian responses in an entirely different way. Data mapping can provide a visualization of any data collected from sensors, satellites, sales or social media that involves a latitude, longitude, coordinate, zip or postcode. So basically, anything.
For example, banks and financial corporations can use data from consumers to generate maps, which provide intelligence on spending patterns and trends. Then, corporations can analyze, understand and engage with consumer needs varying from ATM withdrawals to travel spending habits to the timing of purchases. The visualizations can also illustrate credit card history to see who is spending where, at what time of day, and in what quantities. Specifically, Mastercard uses data mapping to identify different spending trends from tourists based on location and movement.
Data doesn’t just equal numbers anymore. It can also reflect feelings. Instead of measuring dry statistics, data maps can now measure emotional responses. For example, take a look at the impressive worldwide twitter response to Beyonce’s latest album. Or see how data mapping provided a pivotal look at police violence in America after the events in Ferguson, Missouri.
This past April, an epic earthquake devastated Nepal killing more than 9,000 people and injuring over 23,000. It was the worst natural disaster to strike the area since an earthquake in 1934. However, this time the aid response was entirely different thanks to the progress and innovation of data mapping.
As many people were horrified by images and newsreels from the disaster in Nepal, few were able to physically go to Nepal. Many donated money. Thousands, however, opened their laptops and got to work behind the scenes developing information that allowed the people on the ground to create the most effective and appropriate response to save lives. Volunteers used crisis data mapping through sites such as Tomnod and Digital Global to aid emergency response teams by adding details into online maps of passable roads, collapsed houses, destroyed bridges and stranded people.
Everyone including volunteers, Nepalese citizens, the Red Cross and United Nations used these data maps to develop extremely efficient emergency aid plans. Response teams were able to clearly identify immediate needs saving time, money and lives as a result of the efforts. Because of mapping technology, people around the globe were able to contribute more than money. It provided an avenue for matching needs with resources.
Over the last two-hundred years, map making has evolved from the basic sketchbook drawings of Lewis and Clark to complex data extracted from smartphones and credit cards. For me, the future is using technology to enrich the human connection. Helping those in need where you are and with what you have whether it’s your next door neighbor or a stranger halfway across the globe. We may not understand other languages or cultures, but we do understand suffering and sympathy, joy and hope. And it proves that everyone loves a good Beyonce album.