SpatialKey June 2013 Release

Posted on June 6, 2013 by Rebecca Morris


It's time for another release! Over the last few months, we've been working both behind the scenes and on the user interface to enhance your experience with SpatialKey. The new release focuses on improvements to getting data into SpatialKey and visualizing it in a dashboard.

In addition to these new features, you will notice significant thematic mapping performance enhancements. Displaying data for all US Counties for a 1.5M record dataset used to take around 90 seconds... now it takes only 3.5 seconds. Yes, you read that right, 25X faster!

Let's dive in and check out each of the new features in more detail.

Thematic Mapping

Are you importing locations outside of the US?

Our global thematic mapping release is here! SpatialKey has always offered thematic mapping by US State, County, and Postal Code (or by your own custom geographic boundaries) but now, through an additional subscription, you can map your data by Countries, Postal Codes, and CRESTA Zones internationally.

Images below: Country and France Postal Code (requires additional subscription level) thematic boundary examples

What is thematic mapping? Thematic maps (aka. Choropleth maps) show the distribution of a single attribute by various different geographical areas. They provide quickly digestible information and can highlight outliers and trends for datasets. Also, thematic maps can help you visualize data that isn’t otherwise mappable. You may run into a situation where you don’t have address information or latitude/longitude coordinates for the records in a dataset. When this happens, your data cannot be visualized on a map in traditional ways like individual points or a heatmap, but you can still use thematic mapping. Simply identify which thematic boundary each record belongs in, and we can create a visual representation of your data.

If your organization is interested in licensing global boundaries, please contact us or check out this article for additional details. If you have a need for additional thematic options - like Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), Legislative Districts, etc - please let us know. We are always looking to expand the built-in boundary options in SpatialKey.

Comparison Mapping with any Geographic Boundary

Our comparison analytics have just become even more powerful with the expansion of thematic visualization support to any boundary, anywhere in the world! Whether it is a built-in boundary used for standard thematic mapping (US County or High Resolution Postal Codes for example) or a custom shapefile that has been joined with your dataset, now you can view results of comparing two data points thematically by these boundaries.

Visualizing portfolio growth between 2011 and 2012 for a client's Japan portfolio (dark green signifies larger growth)

In addition to simple portfolio growth, you can visualize premium adequacy, compare results from various models, perform market share analyses, and much more. Select any two data points and how you wish to relate them, and you will have a powerful map, telling you much more about your data than before!

If comparing two data points within a single dataset, all thematic options for that dataset will be available. If comparing two data points within two separate datasets, only thematic options that are common between the two datasets will be available - e.g. CRESTA will only be available if both datasets have CRESTA enabled.

Data Upload Wizard

The Data Upload Wizard is getting smarter! We shuffled the screens, added a couple additional options and ... the Data Upload Wizard is able to learn from you as you walk through the upload process, delivering an enhanced user experience.

Here's a quick walkthrough of the new Data Upload Wizard workflow.

  • After selecting your dataset, identify if your data is in a single country, multiple country, or if your data is going to be analyzed without mapping. If your data is mappable, select how to map your data. The additional option you have that wasn't present before is to use other geographic boundaries.

  • The next screen is new and provides more optional functionality. If your organization has subscribed to our global boundary offering, you will see global boundary options in addition to the standard US boundary options (US State, County, and Postal Code).

  • Based on your selections on previous screens, we identify field types and required fields. Now you only have to scan the remaining fields and determine if anything other adjustments need to be made. Also, previewing your data is offered on demand now, whereas it was a step in the upload workflow before.

That's it, a few simple changes to bring you a more streamlined import workflow.

Let SpatialKey Decide

Now with only a single click, you can create a map! SpatialKey will now make all decisions to get you into your dashboard quicker. You still have flexibility to change visualizations and metrics once in your dashboard but with the new "Let SpatialKey Decide" feature, you can save decision making until the end, until after you have explored your data.

Coming from someone who opened many dashboards everyday, enjoy this new feature!

Layer Manager

With all of the changes elsewhere in SpatialKey for this release, we couldn't forget about the Layer Manager. Now, instead of having to look in the layer settings menu to find what you are looking for, we brought frequently used features front and center! Now you have quick access to change metrics, add labels, select visualization options, and remove a layer.

Data Import API Command Line Tool

The Data Import API is now more approachable than ever! Before, only IT and development teams could implement the Data Import API. With the new Data Import API Command Line Tool, typical users of SpatialKey can leverage this functionality without any programming knowledge.

Why use the Data Import API? SpatialKey makes it very easy to login and import data directly… so you might ask yourself, why would I need to use the Data Import API? One common use for the Data Import API is to schedule import tasks. Let’s say that your organization has an internal process that generated a new CSV file for your dataset every night, you could use the Data Import API to automatically pick up that file and submit a replace task in SpatialKey. Instead of coming into work in the morning, logging into SpatialKey, submitting the import job, and then working with the data, you can just wake up, login and start working with the refreshed dataset when you use the Data Import API.

For more details and to download the Command Line Tool visit this article.

Geocoding Options

Providing you with more flexibility and control over your data, we have integrated multiple geocoding options into SpatialKey. Some geocoding options will require a transactional fee to use but SpatialKey has also rolled out the SpatialKey Free geocoder, which is our own custom-built geocoding solution offered complementary with any SpatialKey license.

In addition to the added geocoding options, you can now export geocoded latitude and longitude coordinates and visualize geocodes on any basemap. For more details on geocoding option, check out this article.

Posted in data import, Visualization, Releases, choropleth | Leave a reply

The easiest way to create thematic maps by state, county, or zip code

Posted on January 21, 2010 by Doug McCune


We've just launched new thematic mapping features in SpatialKey that let you create maps of your data by state, county, or zip code with a few simple mouse clicks. We think this is the easiest way to create thematic maps - ever. To show off these abilities I'll show an example of creating a thematic map of unemployment rate by US county. The end result will look like this:


Find some data

Your data must have location details down to the level of granularity that you are trying to map. For instance, if you want to show a map of states, all the records in your data should at least have US state (your data can be more granular too, you can map address-level data by state if you want). In this example I'll be mapping US unemployment rate. The data for unemployment is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and can be found here. I took the latest stats by US county and extracted only the data for October 2009.

After just a little massaging in a spreadsheet program my data looked like this:


You can download the CSV file that I used if you'd like to try it out for yourself.

Upload to SpatialKey

Once you have your data ready, you can upload it to SpatialKey. If you don't already have a SpatialKey account, you can sign up for the free 30-day trial to get access right away and start uploading. During the upload process you'll be asked to identify the location columns in your data, like street address, zip code, etc. We'll do our best to automatically identify these columns based on your data, but you might have to help us out.


Make your map

When you load your data onto a map you'll be asked what kind of map you want to create. We'll make a thematic shape map, and we'll choose to map the data by US geography (this includes state, county, or zip code).


Then we choose what the map should display. In this example we want to show the unemployment rate, so I'll pick average unemployment rate, which will start me off with a map of the US states with the average unemployment rate for all the counties in each state.


Now our thematic map shows the average unemployment rate for all the counties aggregated by state.


I can switch between this state view of the data and counties by changing the options in the layer's settings panel.


Now we have a map of all the counties in the US (including Puerto Rico) that shows the unemployment rate of each county.


Customize and Explore

You can easily customize the bin ranges if you want to tweak them, or you can control the colors used (all maps are the same, just with a different color scheme):



You can also use all the filtering options that SpatialKey offers to filter the data in your thematic maps. Here's an example of filtering to only show counties where the total labor force is over 100,000.


And here's another example to show only the counties where the unemployment rate is greater than 15%:


No Programming Required

To generate these maps you don't have to write a single line of code. It's as simple as uploading your data and stepping through a few guided steps. If you wanted to change the map to show the total labor force per county instead of the unemployment rate, it only takes 3 clicks. There are lots of ways to make these maps, like this great tutorial on FlowingData shows, but we think SpatialKey gives you the easiest way to create and analyze thematic maps.

Posted in examples, thematic, choropleth | Leave a reply