Project Details | Storymap

Telling a complex story about street gangs of El Salvador with maps and visual elements

| Project Date -- 2018

| Skills Used -- data visualisation | webdesign | maps | story telling | visual analytics |

| Link to Project --

Project Overview | Pay or Die? Prison or Cemetery?

tiny This data visualisation project tells the story of street gangs in El Salvador with interactive and static maps and graphics. It is a story that has been told many times before, especially within the last few months. And in my opinion the story has too often been told from a wrong perspective.

With my Storymap I aim to reduce prejudices and to shed a different light on the topic by telling the story in a different way. The storyline starts off by giving the reader a wider context of worldwide homicide rates. It then zooms into El Salvador and gives a background and history explaining the high homicide rates. After that, the appearance of the criminal gangs - Las Maras - are portrayed from two perspectives: Pay or Die describes the perspective of El Salvadoran citizens who are daily exposed to violence. The section Prison or Cemetery portrays the perspective of young people finding a sense of belonging and protection against the police in one of the street gangs.

Find the Storymap here.

Price: The Storymap has won the first place in the Esri 2018 Storytelling with Maps Contest (category culture, history and events)!


Example Maps

Screenshots of interactive and static example maps. For more see full project:


Homicide Rates: The Storymap contains an interactive map displaying homicide rates on three different zoom levels (World, Latin America, Departements of El Salvador).


Exlaining the history of the mara: Six static maps showing the history and genesis of the mara. The maps were created with photo editing software using the same map cut-out for each map as a background to make it seem as though only the arrows are fading in and out.



Resources used


Scientific Literature

Norman, D.A. 1988. The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Doubleday, 257 pp.

Powell, K.L., Roberts, G. & Nettle, D. 2012. Eye Images Increase Charitable Donations: Evidence From an Opportunistic Field Experiment in a Supermarket Fusani, L., ed. Ethology, 118, 1096-1101, 10.1111/eth.12011.

Segel, E. & Heer, J. 2010. Narrative Visualization: Telling Stories with Data. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 16, 1139-1148, 10.1109/TVCG.2010.179.

Shneiderman, B. 1986. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-computer Interaction. Boston, MA, USA: Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc.