This step-by-step guide covers customizing a Google Crisis Map for your site.


Create a Google Crisis Map

  1. Go to and click the Create Map button. If this is your first map, you will need to accept the Terms of Use and enter the name of your organization.

  2. Title your map by clicking the pencil icon. This title will be displayed on your site above the map's layers and legend.

  3. Zoom into your city and center the map on your city or region, then click Set current view as default under the title of your map.

  4. Save the map by clicking the small Save link above the title of your map.

Add published data layers to your map

  1. Click on the Add Layer link above the title of your Crisis Map.
  2. In the dialog that appears, click on Import Published Layers 
  3. A list of published layers will appear, scroll through and select layers that seem relevant to your region, then click Import Selected Layers.
  4. Click on the Layers tab above your map's title to see its new layers. You can toggle layers on and off with the checkboxes to investigate how they will look. You can also delete any unnecessary layers.
    Note: If you don't see any features on a layer, try zooming out.
  5. Once you are satisfied with your set of published layers, be sure to click the small Save link above the title of your map.

Create custom layers to add to your map

First, create a map using Google Maps Engine (this map will have its own set of layers), then publish this map, and import it as a layer to your Crisis Map.

  1. Create a new map using Google Maps Engine.
  2. On your new map, you will see a blank map with a title area, a search bar and tool icons. Experiment with the tools or read more: Using Google Maps Engine to Customize Maps.
  3. Once your map has the custom points, areas and directions you want, click the Share button at the top of your map.
  4. In the dialog that appears, under Who Has Access, set your map to Public on the web and then click Done.
  5. Copy the URL for your public Maps Engine map from the top of your browser window. This is the Source URL that you will import into your Crisis Map.

Import the custom layers into your Crisis Map

  1. If your Crisis Map isn't already open, open it by going to your list of maps and clicking on the map's title (under the heading DRAFT MAPS).
  2. Once the map is open, click the Add Layer link above the title of your map.
  3. In the dialog that appears, title the layer and paste the link to your public Maps Engine map into the Source URL field, then click OK.
  4. In a moment, your custom layer will appear on the map. Make sure to click the Save link at the top of your Crisis Map. 

Publish your Crisis Map

  1. Go to your list of maps and append the URL for your map with a unique name, then click the Publish button.

  2. In the dialog that appears, fill in the publisher attribution with the name of your organization, and click the Publish button.

  3. Visit your newly published Crisis Map by clicking its link under the heading PUBLISHED MAPS. 
    Note: Now that the map is published there are two views of this map, the editable view that you get to by clicking on its title (under the DRAFT MAPS heading) and the published view that you get to by clicking on its link (under PUBLISHED MAPS). The published view is the only view with a Share button.

  4. Click the small Share button at the top of your Crisis Map to see your map's share-link and embed code.
  5. Copy the link under Paste link into email or IM. This is the link you will need to embed this map in your site.

Embed your Crisis Map in your City72 site

  1. Go to the Content Editor for your City72 site and click on the Map & Updates tab.

  2. Paste the share-link that you just copied into the Crisis Map Link field.
  3. Click Save Changes and then view the City72 Map & Updates page of your site to see your map (you may need to reload the page).

Republishing your map and updating the view on your site

  1. After making any changes to your Crisis Map, go back to your map list and click the Republish button to the right of your map's published link.
  2. To get to the updated view of your map, click on its published link (under the PUBLISHED MAPS heading).
  3. Use the layer checkboxes to toggle layers on or off, this changes which layers viewers of your map will see by default.
  4. Click on the small Share button at the top of this map and copy the share-link under Paste Link into Email or IM.
  5. Now, go to the Map & Updates form in the Content Editor to paste in the new Crisis Map Link.
  6. Click Save Changes and then reload the City72 Map & Updates page of your site to see the republished map and updated defaults.  

Tips for maintaining your map

Your Crisis Map is a powerful tool for communicating useful information—especially if its well-maintained and stays relevant to your users. Ideally you want people to use the Map as a day-to-day resource, so it is intuitive for them to also use it in an emergency.

Tip: Use your map whenever you activate for a large public event. Show parade routes, marathons, heat wave information, etc. Using the map on a regular basis keeps you poised to update it in an emergency and creates awareness of how useful it can be.

Tip: Preload layers that you know you'll need to share in an emergency. These might be local shelters, resources, meeting places, etc. In an emergency, you'll be able to just activate these layers rather than creating them on the spot.

Tip: The 'Edit topics' feature in the editing toolbar allows you to add survey questions to your Crisis Map, e.g. ask if a shelter has beds, or if a gas station has gas. Experiment with this feature so you will you feel comfortable setting up survey questions in an emergency.

Troubleshooting Tip: If you are having trouble creating or editing your Crisis Map make sure that you are logged in to the Google account you used to create the map. This could be your gmail account or your Google for Business account.

Troubleshooting Tip: If you have edited your map but you are not seeing the updates on your site, check the following things.

  • Try reloading the Map & Updates page of your site.
  • Make sure you saved your changes on the Map & Updates form of the Content Editor after pasting in the new link. 
  • Double-check that the map has been republished.

Resources for learning more about Google Crisis Maps and Google Maps Engine