The map is interactive, so users can zoom in and out by using the zoom bar (or using the mouse scroll wheel, or double clicking the left/right mouse button), pan around by clicking and dragging the map, or get more information about a place by clicking on the map.
Searching the Map
To start, specify a location. With the Location Search Bar you can quickly find and position the map to different locations. You can search for locations by an address, a type of geography (e.g. zip code, city, county, or state), or use the drop down menu on the left to search for census tracts, block groups, congressional districts, school districts, state legislative boundaries, or metro areas.
The data menu is divided into three sections; Data Layers, Data Points, and PolicyMap Suggestions.
- Data Layers – Indicators shown as thematic or choropleth maps; areas shaded in a darker color represent the higher amount or percentage, and areas in a lighter shade are the opposite end of the range.
- Data Points – Point or address level datasets, displaying icons for each location. Point datasets will have unique filtering and coloring coding options.
- PolicyMap Suggestions – Links relevant to the category including blog articles related to the category, and sample Quick Maps to get you started.
Search for Data
The Data Search Bar allows users to search for specific datasets on the PolicyMap tool. Use keywords or a grouping of words to find the data you are looking for. Make sure to use the "Find" box to the left of the Location Search Bar.
- As you type, suggestions will appear in the drop-down menu. If the results do not match the data you are looking for, try to add additional words or more specific keywords.
- The results will show the data title, where to find the data in the menus, and the source of the data. Mouse over the icon to see the data description.
Data Layer Legend
When a data layer is added, the legend will display information about the data (e.g. year, variable, etc.) and the values for each color on the map. The legend also gives you the ability to customize the map by changing the time frame, changing the shaded geography type, or making your own custom shaded ranges.
- Source - The legend provides the source for each data layer. Clicking on the source brings you to the Data Directory where you can read more information about the source and its methodology.
- Years – Depending on the data layer added, you can toggle between available years, quarters, and months. Some data is presented for a range of years.
- Variables – Changing the variable will change the type of data displayed on the map. You can toggle between the number, currency, percent, percent change across time, and other variables.
- Shaded by – Depending on the indicator, the geography type changes based on the zoom level. The shaded by menu gives you the ability to change the geography at which the current data layer is shaded. Small geography ranges, like census tracts, require you to be zoomed in to access.
- Colors – Users can change the color palette of shaded maps.
- Ranges – Create their custom data ranges for the data displayed.
Movable legends – Click on the legend and drag to move it around.
Collapsible legends – On top of the legend are options to collapse the legend: the (-) symbol on the right will minimize the legend, which will be replaced by an (+) to restore the legend.
After selecting and loading a data layer, users can click on the map to open the "Info Bubble" which will give the value for the geography selected, as well as the values for the locations the geography sits within. This geography will also be highlighted with an orange outline on the map.
The title for the data layer will appear above the map. The star icon to the left of the title will save this data layer in your My Data tab. For more information about any data layer, click the map title to display a more comprehensive description of the data.
Data Points allows you to view point datasets on the map. You can view these points by themselves or on top of a Data Layer. More than one point dataset can be loaded at one time. Subscribers can also add datasets which they have loaded using the Data Loader tool from their My Data tab. Once a dataset is loaded, click on any point to display information about that site.
- Filter datasets: Simply select the filter from the menu in the legend. You can apply multiple filters to any dataset. Some filters have the option to Color Code All. This displays all points, and colors then according to their value. Other filters cannot be combined with a Color Code All filter.
- You can remove any site dataset or a filter(s) by clicking X by the filter.
Users can overlay any of the boundaries used in PolicyMap by using the Map Boundaries option on the bottom of the map.
Subscribers have the ability to draw custom boundaries on the map using the Build Custom Region feature. Custom regions can then be used to show the unique area someone is working in, and also download data for that area in Tables or generate a unique Report.
Subscribers can Download Data from the maps page into CSV files for your own analysis or to use with another mapping or statistical tool.
Be sure to check the links for each feature in the tutorial. We've highlighted them on this overview, but each link will describe more information and functionality. If you have any questions or want to learn more, visit our training calendar and attend a free session or contact us at any time.