“Fun, well-crafted integration of Google Maps and social media.” —Troy Lachance
“So dense with valuable information, yet easy to explore.” —Ana Serrano
Overview: Greenpeace is embarking on a series of “Save the Arctic” expeditions to stop commercial oil and fishing industries from pillaging the region as its protective ice melts. Into the Arctic is a digital platform that tracks and logs these expeditions in real time, as activists send dispatches of photos, text and video from the field. The site revolves around a map of the Arctic region, which provides a visual context for the expeditions, while side panels containing log-book-style text provide in-depth editorial content. The goal is to bring the serious environmental issues facing the region directly into users’ living rooms, allowing them to get closer to a remote area of the planet that even Google Maps doesn’t cover.
• Into the Arctic was created in about eight weeks.
• Information architecture, design and development phases of the project overlapped, with functional prototypes built while the user interface and design were still being created.
• The map at the core of the site was created with CSS 3D Transforms and animated with TweenMax by GreenSock.
Comments by Jakob Kahlen:
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “The core feature of the site is a map, but we quickly ran into issues because services like Google and OpenMaps physically don’t cover the area we needed to highlight. So the team had to get creative: We studied satellite images of the area and worked with a 3-D illustrator to create a high-resolution illustrated map of the entire Arctic Circle. Greenpeace shared detailed maps of the Arctic area and helped us identify various geographic borders hidden beneath layers of ice.”
Did the project require specialized knowledge or scientific data? “Greenpeace gave us an overview of how the ice shifts throughout the year, which was important in order to accurately track expedition routes. We used data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center to map the ice shifts, and compared satellite photos to help give detail and accuracy to the final renderings.”
Describe any special interactive features. “We put tremendous effort into creating an immersive feeling in the map, particularly when it moves into 3-D and the user pans and navigates. For an extra layer of depth, we added clouds. Here we only used CSS 3D (instead of a WebGL-enabled canvas) to ensure the map also works on the iPad and iPhone.”