Three Compelling Story Maps for Agriculture Risk

We worked with Conservation International to upgrade their Vital Signs mapping applications. Using the Esri story map series template, we customized, optimized, and styled the atlases to reflect the mission and spirit of Vital Signs.

Vital Signs - Ghana Atlas

Designed to provide risk management tools for agricultural development, the atlases feature new functionality including the ability to:

  • Re-order layers
  • Adjust transparency
  • Download datasets
  • Share the maps on social media

“These atlases will enable planners and managers in Africa, who do not have GIS skills, to manipulate and overlay different data layers for planning and also provide access to relevant data from a wide variety of sources and sectors.”

-Sandy Andelman, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist at Conservation International

The atlases provide a baseline and a synthesis of existing data on agriculture, ecosystems, and human well-being, on which Vital Signs is building. They also enable anyone to visualize where Vital Signs is collecting data, in the context of what is already known.

Vital Signs - Tanzania Atlas

“Blue Raster helped our team optimize Vital Signs’s Online Interactive Atlases and add user-friendly functionality. They understood our needs and lent the support our team needed in the critical months before release.

-Kellee Koenig, GIS Manager at Conservation International

Blue Raster leveraged ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS desktop to build the atlases. Visit the site, and see how Blue Raster helped Conservation International leverage and customize a current Esri Story Map framework to provide three compelling risk management tools for the agriculture industry.

2015 Esri Award – Special Achievement in GIS (SAG)

Blue Raster received a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award in partnership with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the 2015 Esri International User Conference.

Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award - Esri 2015 User Conference

The award was given in recognition of our work building MapED and the School District Demographic System (SDDS). Both applications are web mapping tools exploring education and demographic trends. For more information on the award, including a project description, visit the Award Winners page.

The Hidden Cost of Suspension

As part of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) new public awareness campaign, #RethinkDiscipline, Blue Raster launched The Hidden Cost of Suspension story map in partnership with Sanametrix.


Since 2011, the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice have collected data on suspensions, expulsions, and other practices that remove students from instruction.

To make their data comprehensible at a glance by decision makers and the public, ED turned to Blue Raster to create a series of maps to be shared on social media. Through this story map, the public can better understand the prevalence of out-of-school suspensions in their communities.


The application was developed using Esri’s side accordion story map template that allows users to step through three maps.

“Creating and sustaining safe, supportive schools is absolutely essential to ensuring students can engage in the rich learning experiences they need for success in college, work and life — that’s why rethinking school discipline is critical to boosting student achievement and improving school outcomes,”
Arne Duncan, U.S Secretary of Education

This story map was highlighted in the articles below:

Blue Raster at Esri International User Conference, July 20-24

esri UC 2013

It’s that time of year again! Blue Raster is proud to be a Nonprofit Showcase Sponsor and excited about attending and presenting at the Esri International User Conference, July 20-24, 2015, in San Diego, CA.  Make sure to come check out Blue Raster at booth V11 in Hall C to see the latest in ArcGIS Online, web and mobile mapping applications and more. Meet the Blue Raster team, learn about our mapping applications, or just say hello!

Remember to check out Blue Raster:

  • Tuesday, 7/21 1:30 pm – 2:00 pm, Demo Theater 1 – Creating Apps with Maps in AppStudio, presenter: Jon Nordling
  • Tuesday- Wednesday 7/21-22 9:00 am – 6:00 pm and Thursday, 7/23 9:00 am – 1:30 pm, SDCC, Hall A – Arboretum Mobile at User Software Applications Fair
  • Tuesday, 7/21 for Blue Raster’s annual Fish Taco Night – email for details
  • Wednesday, 7/22 10:15 am – 11:30 am, Marriott Marquis Hotel, Catalina Room (Level 4 of Hotel) – Collecting, Managing, and Sharing Geographic Information at Public Gardens, presenter: Adrienne Allegretti
  • Wednesday, 7/22 at 3pm – Marriott Marquis Hotel Mission Hills Level 3 South Tower – Blue Raster is sponsoring the American Public Gardens Association Evening Reception, presenter: Jon Nordling will demo the National Arboretum Mobile application built with AppStudio for ArcGIS

Before you arrive, check out  for a complete schedule of events.

We look forward to seeing everyone and mapping about the latest trends, stop by our booth and say hello!

  • Follow @Blueraster for live tweets and updates throughout the conference
  • To schedule a time to meet at the conference, email Jessica Viel at
  • While you are at it, please also “Like” Blue Raster on Facebook for photos and more in-depth news from the conference and beyond.

Bear Basics – New Portal Into the World of Bears

Blue Raster has long recognized the importance of putting exploration tools into the hands of science enthusiasts. So we were excited to collaborate on a project with Bear Trust International, a non-profit dedicated to conservation education.

Bears of the World Story Map

As part of their education program, Bear Trust asked Blue Raster to create an engaging web lesson rooted in bear research and ecology. Using datasets provided from the IUCN Red List, Blue Raster developed the Bears of the World story map.

Bears of the World Story Map

Built with ArcGIS Online, the story map enables kids to learn about the eight species of bears worldwide and view their habitat maps.

“The folks at Blue Raster provided unparalleled customer service, expertise, and creative vision.  We are so excited about providing our interactive map to kids and the public, and we look forward to our next collaborative project with Blue Raster.”

Dr. Melissa Reynolds-Hogland, Executive Director of Bear Trust International

Check out the story map today, and discover how its helping engage the next generation of scientists.

Fires in Indonesia National Park seen with GFW Fires App

The World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch Fires is currently being used to respond to a massive outbreak of fires in Tesso Nilo National Park, Indonesia. The fires in the protected area began May 29, 2015 and have continued to burn since.

In response, Blue Raster created the maps below using ArcGIS Online and a custom application to analyze the region where fires are burning. Using 50 centimeter resolution imagery along with NASA MODIS fire data, the maps capture the illegal activity occurring within the boundaries of this protected land. GFW Fires continues to be used as a response tool in Tesso Nilo and other parts of the world.

Check out the maps, and visit GFW Fires to see the latest on this outbreak.

Active fires in Tesso Nilo National Park, Indonesia

Healthy vegetation appears in red and burned areas in black; within the actively burning area, temperature is indicated in a range from cool blue to intense heat in bright red. Imagery collected by DigitalGlobe’s Worldview-3

The Power of Story Maps, Data, and Analysis

We had a great webinar today with NetHope on non profits and the power of story maps. If you missed it, catch a full recording here as well as our presentation slides.

Blue Raster has supported many NetHope Members including Catholic Relief Services, WWF, FHI 360, The Nature Conservancy, and Wildlife Conservation Society.

You can view the full recording here

Visualizing Open Data’s Global Reach

Blue Raster worked with the Center for Open Data Enterprise to build a mapping application showcasing a centralized, searchable database of organizations using open data worldwide. The Open Data Impact Map makes it possible to explore open data-use trends through filters and visualizations and is facilitates comparative analysis by country, region, or company use of data. All information collected becomes publicly available as a resource for others to build on.

Open Data Enterprise Impact Map

Joel Gurin - President, Center for Open Data Enterprises“All of us at the Center for Open Data Enterprise are pleased to have worked with Blue Raster on the Open Data Impact Map. Their engaging, user-friendly visualization will help make this an excellent  resource for the open-data community worldwide. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with Blue Raster…”

Joel Gurin – President, Center for Open Data Enterprise

Filter Table View

The web map was developed in Leaflet using React, Backbone.js, Dojo, Modernizr, Underscore.js and jQuery javascript frameworks. ZURB Foundation was used as the web framework.

Check out the site and see how dynamic clustering is used to visualize open data around the world.

From Data to Decisions on Global Malnutrition

Blue Raster recently worked with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) to build a mapping application to highlight the multiple burdens of malnutrition in low, middle and high-income countries. This is a contribution to the growing research on the issue of the double/multiple burden of malnutrition globally. The interactive map transforms extensive tabular data from various resources into rich geographic visualizations, bringing the data to life in ways not possible in traditional reports.

Malnutrition Mapping Project

Intended as a policy and advocacy tool, the map allows users to analyze emerging issues and explore important indicators driving malnutrition. It provides country-level data and possibility to view the following:

  • Demographics
  • Undernutrition
  • Overweight / Obesity
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Risk factors, and
  • Protective factors

Cloud-based ArcGIS Online powers the interactive mapping. For rapid performance, Blue Raster leveraged ArcGIS Desktop to symbolize and tile the data, and ArcGIS Online to host and serve the tiled layers and feature services. Users can explore and understand the underlying data by selecting multiple variables simultaneously and viewing countries exceeding thresholds or missing data.

Indicator Analysis in GAIN's Double Burden Map

GAINBlue Raster did an excellent job under a very tight timeline. Their responsiveness to our needs and their creativity exceeded our expectations. We are very excited to share this policy and advocacy tool with researchers and other stakeholders around the world.”
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition


GAIN’s mapping tool is helping deliver a better understanding of the burdens faced by countries suffering from malnutrition. It provides new geographic insight and analytical capabilities, and will lead to better decisions on how to help the most vulnerable of the global population. Visit the site, and see how Blue Raster helped GAIN move from static reports to a powerful advocacy tool.

New Mobile-Friendly Water Risk Atlas

Aqueduct on Mobile PhoneEarlier today, Blue Raster and the World Resources Institute (WRI) released a new version of Aqueduct Atlas, an application helping companies and investors manage exposure to water risks. Launched in 2013, Aqueduct is used worldwide by leading companies, including McDonald’s, Goldman Sachs, and Procter & Gamble. For the first time, the site is optimized for mobile phones and tablets.

The new site enables users to:

  • Assess water stress, supply, and demand in the coming decades
  • Learn where water risks will be most severe under well-known climate scenarios
  • Prioritize investments for projected conditions

Charles Iceland, Director, Aqueduct Project “The World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct team has worked closely with Blue Raster for over three years developing the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas. Blue Raster has been an invaluable partner in building innovative mapping tools to meet our target audiences’ needs.”
Charles Iceland, Director, Aqueduct Project


  • Global water risk maps
  • Weighing risk priorities:  scarcity, quality, prices, governance, and competition
  • Provides industry presets with sector-specific weighting schemes or define your own
  • Geocode facilities, suppliers, and potential new market locations
  • Export analysis results to Excel

Aqueduct is powered by ArcGIS for Server, ArcGIS JavaScript API, and ArcGIS Desktop. To learn more, visit the platform and see Aqueduct featured in the New York Times, The Guardian, Fast Company, Bloomberg, and Greenbiz.