The Dunedin Town Belt Story Map combines text, maps and multimedia to tell the story of the Dunedin Town Belt.

I’ve been fascinated by Story Maps ever since I found out about them from the team at e-Spatial. I think that Story Maps could replace the traditional Assessment of Environmental Effects Report in the resource consent process. Microsoft Sway is a similar tool.

All an AEE does is describe the site as it is, present a proposed activity and identify the effects generated. The traditional ‘report’ format is fast becoming an outdated medium with a proliferation of content creation tools online. Schedule 4 of the RMA doesn’t specify the format of ‘information’ and the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 is clear that legally required information can be provided by electronic means.

In fact, Story Maps could be used for the entire regulatory process. Imagine if every land development project was a Story Map. It would include the design, resource consent, building consent, engineering, construction, surveying, compliance and marketing stages of a project. Buying a new home would be like tracing your clothing from farm gate to store rack. Most of the information is publicly available already. Story Maps can make it more accessible.

The implications of this approach would be far reaching for Councils as well as developers and their consultants. Radical transparency is coming, are you ready?