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Making Maps with the ESRI GIS and Data Packages

Why might you want a map? Why might you want a targeted data set that describes some facet of the United States population or business community? Many disciplines benefit from knowing how relevant markets, service populations or consituencies are distributed across a geographic area. A few reasons might be to start a new business, or launch a targeted marketing effort. Other reasons might include public health or political campaigns, planning for education, social services other public policy goal. Many researchers in sociology, history and natural resource managementa also use mapping tools, known broadly as geographic information systems. Doubtless you can think of others reasons to express data using a map.

The web-based pair of tools from the ESRI Business Analyst and its sister ESRI Community Analyst services offer a unique feature set along with excellent data sources. Both are available to the Drexel community as a result of a site license of the fully-featured desktop version of the ESRI mapping tool called "ArcGIS."

Produce a Custom Map

What follows is a series of screenshots that can guide you through the interface of the ESRI Business Analyst platform in order to accomplish: a.) choosing a variable of interest b.) selecting a geography of focus c.) producing either a map or exporting the underlying data set to Excel.

Use your DrexelOne ID/PW to access the login page here: ESRI Business Analyst

From there you will have to create your own private "ESRI Universal Account" and agree to the terms of service.

1.) When you first log into BA, choose the "Research Market" tab.


2.) Note that you get a blank map. I recommend that you zoom into your area of interest at this point, using the magnifying glass on the left hand menu (though this step can be done later as well.)

3.) Now click the menu option that is highlighted below "Create Color-Coded Map."

4.) Click on the "Choose Variables" button that appears, and observe the categories that drop down.

5.) Floating over the "All Categories" option at the top of that menu will show a drop-down menu that groups the rest of the variables by category (see below).


6.) For this example, we will select the category "Consumer Spending" and then click on the "+" plus sign to reveal further variable options. Notice that alongside each data label, you may choose to have your mapped results expressed in absolute numbers "#" or as an average "Avg" or as an "Index" by highlighting the appropriate button.


7.) Once you have selected a variable and your display preference, a map will be generated, as is shown below. Observe how on the legend you can switch your display preference between the three options (#, Avg, Index). Also observe how the "Geography" setting along the top ribbon is set here to "Auto Selection" which clusters results into the geographic units that display best at this zoomed level - so in this case it shows Census Tracts. You can change this to reflect other units such as State, County, Zip Code, etc.


8.) Observe (below) how the slider bar at the right hand side lets you do the same as the Geography "Auto Selection" option mentioned above, ie: clusters results into the geographic units that display best at this zoomed level. There are options on the left-hand menu (not shown) with which permit you to save the map as a PDF or take a snapshot of the screen to save as a JPG or other graphic file type.

9.) Also see below how the legend has a second tab for "Color-Coded Data." See the link for "Excel" next to the three display preference options (#, Avg, Index)? Guess what you can do with that!

10.) Clicking the "Excel..." option will open a window showing your local machine's hard drive so you may name and save a file containing the raw data from the variables you have specified for your map.


11.) Enjoy your newfound data source!

You will see other examples of how to use this and the Community Analyst tool set appearing on this blog soon.



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