In an earlier post, I suggested community mapping as a tool for identifying elements of a vision for Maine: Let's preserve AND change. This grassroots approach aligns with those advocated by GrowSmart Maine and the Brookings Report: Charting Maine's Future.
I described Nils Peterson's and my efforts to explore how a community could use collaborative mapping using an online mapping application. I also expressed disappointment in the supplier of the services we used because the developers abandoned the effort and left us without access to our data. Nils asked me recently if I had found any better tools for doing this kind of work.
Google has filled the gap with the "My Maps" application. It provides the tools and ways to access the data for use in other contexts. I created map to evaluate the tools and refine how we can use them. My initial thoughts are that they meet many of our goals. But they will require further exploration in order to know how to use them optimally. For example, the area marker for Zeke's Island disappears at the scale and view that fits all points. To see it, the user needs to click on the list of markers in the navigation panel. Google will refine the tool and we will learn how to use it and who will be able to participate.