Working with spatio-temporal data


As digital map-making tools are getting increasingly ubiquitous their use and critical assessment in policy making, research and pedagogy is more important than ever, especially in the ways they tend to reproduce established patterns of urban inequalities, dispossession, and environmental racism. In this workshop we will use open urban and spatio-temporal datasets that capture different contemporary and historical aspects of urban environments to explore different tools and scales of creating and using spatial stories in a class environment. We will focus on browser-based tools such as Story Maps, StoryMap.js, Timeline.js and Timemapper. At the end of the workshop we will review some projects and cases of “radical cartography” that challenge established map-making notions and practices and that can help students engage critically with dominant narratives and representations of urban and historic environments.

What you’ll need

Technical requirements

  • up-to-date browser (Chrome or Firefox preferred)

  • Desktop or mobile Zoom app

Access to online tools and services


Questions to consider:

  • How often do you use maps and geospatial data in your classes?

  • In what format?

  • What are some of the requirements or conditions that would make it easier for you to integrate geo-spatial/urban data and digital maps in your classes?

Working with spatio-temporal data

Example 1: Simple geo-coding tools

  1. Download the New York City Museums .csv here:

  2. and upload the file on Google Sheets OR

    directly make a copy of the Google Spreadsheet here:

  3. Install the “Geocode” extension for Google Sheets.

  4. Return to your spreadsheet and create two empty columns following the “ADDRESS 2” column.

  5. Select all cell values under “ADDRESS 1” and then click “Add-ons” > “Geocode” > “Start Geocoding’.” Hit “Geocode.”

  6. Define “ADDRESS 1” as the address column.

  7. This will generate Lat/Long value in the empty columns. You can now create, customize and open a map with your values.

Alternative tool:

  1. Return to Step 3. Copy all spreadsheet content into the text field on

  2. Under “Validate & Set Options” define “ADRESS1” as Location / Address and “ZIP” in “Group By / Thematic Value.”

  3. Click on “Make Map.” Add a title or discription (optional).

  4. Enter an email address (required) and click on “Save Map.”

Example 2: Working with the Iliad and Recogito

  1. Download the Iliad (fragment) .txt file here:


    Hom. Il. 2.546. Homer. The Iliad with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1924.

  2. Got to and create a user account (registration required). Recogito is an open source software tool for historical text annotation, name entity recognition and mapping. Here’s a 10-minute tutorial:

  3. Once you set up an account. log in and then click on “Add” ? “File Upload”.

  4. Upload the text file.

  5. Locate the Iliad_1 text file listed and from the “Options” (top right) select “Named Entity Recognition.”

  6. Select “Stanford CoreNLP” as the preferred engine.

  7. Click “Start NER.”

  8. Go back to the listed .txt file and select “Quick view” for “Places” and “Persons” and then “Map View”.

  9. Click on “Download Options” to export your project.

Map-making tools and projects

We will review popular and effective digital map-making tools and some of the projects that have been developed with the use of such tools.

Spatial stories and time-lines: Storymap.js and Timeline.js

We will together (re)create a chronology of the refugee crisis in Europe using as the main source and including additional resources. We will create two versions of the chronology. One in Storymap.js and a second version using Timeline.js. Follow the steps to create your own time-lines and story maps in real-time or to return to an example later. You can see the end results by following the links below:

You can embed and post any examples you would like to share on our demo space (edit or create new post under Demo > Storymap or Demo > Timeline).

Creating the storymap

Go to and create an account to make a storymap. Use the chronology to recreate the storymap using any of the media sources below or your own combination.

Here’s a short video on how to create a storymap:

Follow the steps to create and publish the storymap.

Creating the timeline

Go to and create an account to make a timeline.

Make a copy of the “Refugee Crisis” template:

Follow the steps on to create, publish and embed your timeline.

Chronology and media sources:

Additional Resources