We want to help you use your data! Follow our five steps to make your own map.
We often find it easier to process and analyse information when it’s presented visually. A great map can communicate geographic information much better than a spreadsheet. We used mapping tools a lot when we created our information management system and we decided to put some of our learning into creating a free online tool for making maps – Mapsdata.
We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible for you to make your very own map – just follow our five steps below.
If you don’t have your own data set and want tips on where to find open data take a look here.
Login or sign up for a Mapsdata account and open the spreadsheet or CSV file that you want to upload. Signing up for an account takes two minutes and all you need is your name, email and company.
Before you upload your data, have a quick check to make sure it is structured correctly. The first row of the spreadsheet should be a heading row and it needs to contain at least one location based heading (e.g. Latitude and Longitude, Country, City Names etc.).
Mapsdata recognises nine different type of geocoding information:
Latitude and Longitude
Country Names and Codes
US State Names and Codes
US Zip Codes
British National Grid (BNG)
If you want to have a look at some sample spreadsheets and get more help with structuring data, take a look here.
Once you have structured your data correctly, go back to your Mapsdata window and upload it using the ‘Import’ tab on the left.
Once your data is uploaded you can customise your map. You can edit:
The type of visualization – choose the option that’s best suited to your data. You can choose from heat maps, cluster maps, marker maps and bubble maps.
There are further editing options for each of these maps. It is possible to change the colour, opacity, size etc. of points or markers.
The type of base maps. There are four different world base maps to choose from; colour, grey, bright and simple
There are different maps you can use depending on the kind of data you want to show.
Heat maps are useful to show density of data points or intensity of phenomena.Displaying density through a color scale, heat maps are visually compelling and let viewers understand a lot from the data in a single glance.The opacity, intensity and radius used to create the map are customizable. This is a great visualization tool to make sense of larger data sets.
Cluster maps group data points that are close together and display the total for each grouping on the map.They can often be used alongside heat maps, and although they may be slightly less visually compelling, they have the advantage of displaying exact numbers. Clicking on a cluster will display the list of entries with the full information for each.
Radius, color and opacity are customizable to create the perfect visualization.
Cluster maps are perfect for larger data sets where it is necessary to be able to interrogate data points.
Marker maps are the classic data visualization: each event or entry is individually plotted on the map. Clicking on a marker enables viewers to interrogate each data point to display further information, like date and time, or whatever else is present in the data set.
The type of marker used, as well as its size and color are customizable directly from the “View” menu.
Use markers for data sets where it is important to display the exact location of each individual data point. For more zoomed-in views, markers can also be a great complement to heat maps.
The color and opacity are customizable for better viewing, and the “Select Column” menu allows you to visualize different data from a single file.
Bubble maps are perfect for visualizing a given variable in addition to the position of each point. They allow you to compare values for different locations in a single glance, just like in this example on the left, which shows footfall at London Undergound stations.
If you want to share your data visualization with your friends, family or coworkers, select ‘Export’ on the left hand side.You can either export your map to a PNG or PDF ready for printing or emailing, print it directly, or you can embed an interactive data visualization straight into your own website or blog.
To embed your interactive map, have a look in the ‘Export’ tab. There’s a text box entitled ‘HTML Embed code for:(title of your data file)’. Just copy the text in the box below and paste it into the source code of your own website.
If you need a bit more help, check out our short video on embedding your maps.
And that’s how you can create and share a map of your own data in just five steps!