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Maps: Where Design and Data Meet

Maps: Where Design and Data Meet

From store locators to Google navigation tools, interactive maps have become an integral part of our daily lives.

Maps are also appearing more frequently on organization websites. Visualizing information in a geographical framework can be a powerful tool for advocacy, government and educational groups. And, in the past couple years, programming tools for online maps have become more accessible, especially for experienced web designers.

These three maps present complex information in an easy-to-absorb and engaging way. They are good models for maps that encourage user interaction, and ones that will likely draw visitors back again for updates.

The Geography of Government Benefits

Do you want to see how benefit income such as Social Security and Medicare has changed during the past 40 years across the U.S.or in your own hometown? This New York Times presentation is a good example of what can be shown by tying data to a county-structured map. Hovering over any county brings up a small line graph showing the change in all government benefits for county citizens compared to the U.S. total from 1969 to 2009. Counties are shaded with color from light to dark indicating the percentage of personal income that comes from government benefits. Viewers can instantly see which areas of the country receive more benefits totally and for which specific types. For example, if you click on the tab for unemployment insurance you’ll see that this benefit is highly concentrated in the Midwest and West coast. Veterans’ benefits are concentrated around military bases, and Medicare income is greatest in retirement communities. This map is a useful planning tool for organizations that serve seniors and the military. READ MORE

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