AfricaMap / WorldMap Project

Developed by: Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA)
Principal Investigators: Suzanne Preston Blier and Peter Bol

System Architect/Project Manager: Ben Lewis

The goal of WorldMap is to lower barriers for scholars who wish to visualize, analyze, organize, and publish mapped information.

AfricaMap was the first application created using the WorldMap platform, and is still one of the richest in content. There are now thousands of additional maps (of Africa and the African diasporas as well as on other subjects and geographies) created by scholars at Harvard and around the world.

WorldMap is open access and has just been re-released on the ArcGIS Online cloud. It is still free for researchers anywhere in the world to use. The system allows users to upload their own data and create sophisticated interactive maps in the cloud to support research and teaching.

Since WorldMap began in 2012, more than a million people have used the system, initiating thousands of research studies, and in the process, making many thousands of new map layers available to Harvard scholars. It is being used in the classroom at Harvard and at other universities around the world.

Major WorldMap/AfricaMap goals include better mapping tools for users, and securing long term sustainability. To meet these ends we approached Esri (the world's leading map technology company) with a proposal to collaborate by which Esri would serve as the long-term host of the WorldMap/Africa Map system; they agreed to do so.   

This year we completed a major initiative to recreate WorldMap within the Esri cloud.  The effort involved transforming 28,000 datasets, metadata records, and user accounts to create a new WorldMap system.   

Some highlights of the new WorldMap:

•           Better access to data and maps

•           Advanced storytelling tools

•           Advanced analysis and visualization tools

•           More ways to collaborate  

•           Improved performance

•           Reduced maintenance overhead

Over the years WorldMap has received generous funding from the Hutchins Center, the Department of African and African American Studies, the Center for African Studies, the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Reischauer Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund, Cornell University, Amazon, and other programs and organizations within and beyond Harvard.