Google Fusion Maps with Joe Wertz

StateImpact Oklahoma’s Joe Wertz, mapping wizard, shows us how to create an interactive map using Google Fusion Maps and some raw data in this quick and simple tutorial.

Here is the data that you can use, if you’d like to try this at home.

(Don’t be alarmed! The audio doesn’t kick in until about ten seconds in.)

Creating a Legend

Of special note, around minute 31 (31:00), Joe walks us through creating a legend for your map. To do that (in the new and improved version):

  1. In the map view, click on the little arrow on top of the “Map of…” tab and navigate down to “change map styles.
  2. Whether you are dealing with points or polygons, make sure that your bucket ranges are exactly as you’d like them to appear in your legend.
  3. Click on “automatic legend” (your last option on the list to the left).
  4. Create a title for your legend.
  5. Decide where you’d like your legend to appear (typically in the bottom right-hand corner,  unless your map makes a different corner preferable).
  6. Hit “Save.”

Embedding an Iframe Into Your Site

At minute 32 (32:35), Joe shows us how to embed an iframe with your map and legend right into your site.

  1. Click on Share (in the upper right-hand corner) and publish it to the web. You’ll see your current sharing settings listed towards the top. If it doesn’t say “Public” hit the blue “Change” and select “Public on the web.”
  2. Hover over and click the little arrow on the map tab (next to “Map of..”) and select “Publish.” This should bring up a box with two options: “Send a link” or “Paste HTML.” You can also change the width and height of your iframe embed if you like.
  3. Copy and paste the HTML in the “Paste HTML” box.
  4. Paste that into the html on your post or page and, voilà! Go ahead and publish your map.

Other tips and tidbits from Joe:

  • Always provide a download link to your data to promote open data/data sharing!
  • Explain any limitations to your data. A map of Oklahoma oil and gas rigs per county, for example, wouldn’t include Osage County, which is all Indian land and data is collected differently there.
  • Run your map by a nerd before you publish–like the stats guy at the local Census bureau, or the GIS guy at the oil and gas regulator, or the grad student at the geological survey.
  • Create a robust baseline table that you can refer to and merge with. Like one with counties, population, FIPS codes, etc. Spend an hour and create one master file that you know is good and can go back to (for merging) again and again.
  • Watch those margins of error if you do per-capita maps. Especially in unpopulated states like Oklahoma and Idaho and Montana.

To Learn More:

  • Here is a great introduction to all that Google Fusion Maps can do,  from Google’s own Vanessa Schneider (delivered at ONA Camp 2013).
  • And here is a link to a great PPT  introduction to all of the other wonderful things you can do with Google Fusion Tables outside of maps, from Daniel Lathrop of the Dallas Morning News (delivered at NICAR’s 2013 conference).