Data Visualization Toolkit: Maps Resources & Tools

Maps Resources

The George Washington University Library system has an online repository of mapping resources, including examples of interactive maps, GIS data directories, and mapping tools.

Maps are not all the same, and based on their advantages and limitations, some styles of maps are better at representing certain types of information than others. This resource describes 12 common methods for visualizing geospatial data to help you choose the right map for the data you want to illustrate.

Maps Tools

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is one of the most widely used platforms for analyzing and displaying data. Excel Maps is available free with Excel 2016.

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Tableau Public

Tableau has many capabilities, and mapping is just one of them. Mapping capabilities include geocoding data, providing preset data layers of known U.S. census data, and creating individual points and polygonal maps. For more general information on Tableau Public, see the Interactive Displays section.

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BatchGeo

BatchGeo bills itself as the “fastest way to create Google Maps with your data.” BatchGeo allows you to layer your own data over Google Maps’ mapping resources. The tool has six map styles, with preformatted data window settings and area coloring, but it limits your options for further customization. See examples of BatchGeo maps in action.

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Geocodio

These tools provide hassle-free geocoding (i.e., address-to-latitude/longitude conversion) and mapping services. Maps can be enriched with dozens of built-in layers and geographical boundaries, including school districts. Geocodio Maps are free up to 250 records per map.

ArcGIS

This application specializes in mapping and spatial data analysis. It allows you to build maps with one or more layers (e.g., zip codes, school districts) and analyze associated data that has a spatial component. See the National Center for Education Statistics’ EDGE Geodata for an example of maps developed with ArcGIS.