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The Map: A Powerful Way to Tell Your Stories

Cartography—that is, mapmaking—has been a huge part of human history for many thousands of years. Maps give us directions. They tell stories. They make it easy to share things in a way that crosses language barriers without losing impact or information. And they are one of the strongest tools we have at our disposal to communicate with each other visually. We've come a long way from using brushes and parchment—today's maps can be layered with data over satellite imagery, with accuracy down to your corner store, back up to planet-wide, and everything in between.

We've worked on many projects over the years that have relied on mapping tools as a central part of the final product. There is so much potential for storytelling and data sharing on maps that it makes all the different work we do with them dynamic, interesting, and fun. We love maps. Here are a few things we’ve done:

Digital Storytelling

Non-profit organizations, indigenous communities, and many other groups are learning how to harness the power of digital storytelling with new media. One of the best methods of telling their collection of local stories is to share them on a map.

Shopping Local with Vancity

A few months ago, Vancity Credit Union approached us with an idea that they hoped would help them use their Good Money™ program to support a stronger local economy. After talking with them about the potential for this new project, we were excited to work with them—on what was to be a very short schedule—to produce a pilot loyalty program now being tested in the Victoria market, called Localty.

We were given three months to work with the Vancity team and build a mobile website that could do a big list of things:

Mapping connections for refugees and aid services

In areas inundated with refugees—like Jordan has become since the civil war in neighbouring Syria displaced millions of people—both humanitarian workers and people in need depend on aid services. Knowing where to access aid, what types of services are available, and when the organizations offering assistance are able to provide it—in real-time, with a map, and accessible on mobile phones—could make a huge difference in the lives of refugees and the capacity of humanitarian aid organizations.

Preparation and planning, experience and expertise: How we approach our work

Our current work is driving home the need to assess a project, work closely with our clients through an extensive discovery process, and understand the requirements of the final product. Other than the obvious -- like having a solid approach to your team's work plan -- we've found this is a necessary piece of our collaborations with clients to best enable us to use the right tools and technologies that will best facilitate their needs.

Our focus lately has been on building connection platforms using newer technology -- using newer foundations, working on a tight deadline, and producing solid results with tools other than Drupal. Once again we're working to solve complicated, interesting problems while building powerful, fast, and useful projects. It's brought us, as developers, back to our computer science roots.

Some of these projects are still in development, so we aren't ready to talk about their details yet, but one example of our proficiency when it comes to choosing the right tools for the job is our work on the Tanker Tracker with ForestEthics.

Flashback: A 2013 Retrospective

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Before we dive into the mysteries of 2014, it's time to take a look back at the interesting projects, clients, and things we accomplished at Affinity Bridge in 2013.

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