Creating Maps & GIS Projects

.. follow these steps to create custom maps & GIS projects .. while maps are “everywhere,” there is a continuing need to make new maps. Reasons for this include changing underlying geography, new features (like stores or customers to be viewed), visually examining geographic relationships not available elsewhere (e.g., census tracts and ZIP codes), different geographic depictions for an area (smoothed versus precise vertices) and other reasons. A map can provide view(s) that relate to geospatial analysis; map visualization can be indispensable (showing road features adjacent to selected properties).

View of Initial Map Objective — University Park, TX; Dallas Metro area
Census tracts (black boundary) shown with census tract code as label.

— view developed using CV XE GIS software

Follow steps in this section to make a map like above for any area in the U.S. This section provides an overview of how to use the CVGIS software to quickly build a map. It is actually more than a map, it is the process of building a GIS project. A map is one rendering that can be displayed, and optionally published, using a GIS project. Map/GIS project development steps reviewed here can be performed using the no fee CVGIS software and no fee data resources, CVGIS Levels 1 and higher can save the GIS project and have additional geography available. With geographic extension, the process illustrated here can work for any place in the world. A GIS project is a file itself that contains references to map files (shapefiles) located on your computer. Once a GIS project has been created and saved, it can be immediately opened with CVGIS using the File>Open operation. After turning your computer off, and restarting it, the GIS project can be re-opened to display the same view as saved in an earlier session.

No Previous GIS/Mapping Experience Required
This section is designed for use by anyone including those with no previous GIS/mapping experience. Requirements are a Windows computer and Internet access. This section is a part of a module used in the Certificate in Data Analytics and the CVGIS Certification Programs. Developers can also benefit from this and related tutorials to learn more about how GIS can be integrated with other data analytics tools and methods.

Making Maps Steps
The objective of this session is to develop a map (and GIS project) to view characteristics of census tract “48113019301”. The first step in making a map (GIS project) is to have a clear objective. This 11 character geocode uniquely identifies this Census 2010 census tract among all other 73,057 tracts in the U.S. See more about census tract geography and geocodes. While this application shows a process for adding only two layers, it could be extended by adding more. Similarly, while this application uses a census tract boundary files (shapefile), alternatives are census blocks, block groups, ZIP code areas, among others.

These steps should take an inexperienced user 10-15 minutes to develop a new CVGIS project view. If anything becomes confused, close the program and start over.
Step 1. Install CVGIS (1/1/2017 or later version)
Step 2. Open Base Project
Step 3. Get Census Tract Shapefile
Step 4. Get Roads Shapefile
Step 5. Modify Map View
Step 6. Optionally Save GIS Project

The view should now be similar to the view at the top of this section.

Next Steps
Try the process yourself with geography of interest to you. View/use other “Creating Maps & GIS Projects” tutorials to learn about:
• integrating subject matter
• developing and using thematic maps
• creating site profiles

Join me in a Data Analytics Lab session to discuss more details about accessing and using wide-ranging demographic-economic data and data analytics. Learn more about using these data for areas and applications of interest.

About the Author
— Warren Glimpse is former senior Census Bureau statistician responsible for innovative data access and use operations. He is also the former associate director of the U.S. Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards for data access and use. He has more than 20 years of experience in the private sector developing data resources and tools for integration and analysis of geographic, demographic, economic and business data. Contact Warren. Join Warren on LinkedIn.

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