What is sMap?

sMap is a fun and engaging on-line tool that allows individuals to create maps of the issues and opportunities facing their community. sMap allows thousands of points of interest to be identified, categorized, and mapped, bringing together ideas in a way never before possible.

sMap is a public outreach tool, allowing residents, stakeholders, and other participants to provide feedback and comments tied spatially to a point or area. In essence, the tool provides a way for anyone to create a map of their community, identifying their own issues, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. It reponds to a fundamental shift in the habits and attitudes of residents who seek to do nearly everything online.

The world around us has changed, and the widespread use of technology is commonplace. The ability to communicate via the internet is expected. Social networking sites keep us connected to friends and colleagues, RSS feeds and twitter keep us connected to current events, and websites provide a portal to unlimited information.

While traditional outreach techniques are effective and important, sMap allows “charrette style” participation via the internet by providing the means for anyone with has access to a computer or mobile device to mark up a map, locate priority issues and areas, and create a narrative about “their” map of “their” community – an aspect of digital outreach that until now did not exist. This innovative tool allows a community to incrementally, yet collectively, identify and prioritize key redevelopment sites, problematic intersections, community assets, and much, much more. As an aid in the planning and outreach process, it is proving to be invaluable.

Who is using sMap?

Over the past six years, sMap has been used by more than fifty communities across the country on a wide range of projects where creative and effective citizen participation and engagement was needed.

sMap is being used by communities ranging from small rural farming communities of 600 people to the third largest city in the United States. Cities, counties, economic development organizations, transportation agencies, and more are realizing the benefits of sMap.

Highlighted below are some of the communities utilizing sMap:

  • Bloomington
  • Brownsburg
  • Chicago
  • Coralville
  • Council Bluffs
  • Crothersville
  • Culver
  • Downers Grove
  • Elgin
  • Fairview Heights
  • Flint
  • Geneva
  • Hawthorn Woods
  • Harwood Heights
  • Highwood
  • Itasca
  • Lansing
  • Livonia
  • Lynwood
  • Machesney Park
  • Madison
  • Mahomet
  • Marion
  • Mattoon
  • Maywood
  • Montgomery
  • Mundelein
  • Muskogee
  • New Lenox
  • Nile
  • Oak Park
  • Portage
  • Richton Park
  • St. Charles
  • Sangamon County
  • South Beloit
  • Tipton
  • Tipton County
  • Westmont
  • Woodridge

How is sMap being used?

sMap is currently being used as an effective outreach tool for a wide variety of projects, including community planning, civic engagement, economic development databases, CIP tracking, and much more. With its ease of use, analytical capabilities, and integration abilities, sMap is being used in creative ways across the county. What started as merely and innovative outreach tool has evolved into a means to engage, assess, prioritize, and track information on a project-specific or on-going basis.

  • Mapping issues to places… As points are collected by sMap and stored in its database, the information is placed, along with the appropriate symbol, title, notes, and hyperlinks, at its correct spatial location – its true location on the earth – allowing the data to be used in other mapping tools, such as GIS.
  • Integrating with GIS… sMap’s ability to export data to GIS allows for a more detailed analysis of the sMap data gathered. Through sMap’s simple and intuitive process, point data can be exported as a text file or imported into GIS for presentation and analysis. GIS analysis provides the ability to analyze the sMap data in any number of ways and build spatial relationships with other data, such as census data and parcel information.
  • Identifying “hot spots”… sMap assists in identifying “hot spots” of key issues within a community. This hot spot analysis helps to focus conversations around key areas of the community and helps to identify areas of commonality or consensus. This utilization allows cumulative community feedback, rather than simply summarizing individual responses.
  • Inventory and tracking… sMap is currently being used to display available development sites and real estate opportunities to better allow developers and brokers to easily identify, track, and inquire about potential opportunities. sMap is also being utilized as a CIP tool that allows the community to view CIP projects planned and underway, as well as provides a means for residents to identify and recommend new CIP projects within the community. Both of these examples highlight sMap's utility in improving customer service responsiveness and effectiveness.

How it works?

Four simple, easy steps and you're done!!!
  • A community or organization activates sMap.
  • Residents and stakeholders join sMap.
  • Users create sMap maps of their issues and ideas.
  • sMap data is used to shape plans and policies.