Synopsis: An exciting new feature on the Google Maps Platform known as “data driven styling” enhances the ability of Google Maps to engage with spatial analytics better than ever before. But what are these new tools capable of and how do they work?
AppGeo is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Sanborn and together we’re using our combined expertise in GIS to analyze and improve how we use data driven styling on Google Maps Platform. This webinar (recorded on December 19th, 2022) brings together David Holmes, Customer Engineer, and Aaron Doucett, Sales Engineer and GIS analyst from AppGeo to discuss the potential for these new features on the Google Maps Platform.
What’s New in Google Maps Platform?
Holmes: “It is a new capability to generate thematic maps – to take Google Maps Platform and enable it to be used for geospatial analytics. Google Maps Platform has been available for a lot of different use cases but using it to create thematics around data that’s relevant to your business is something new that we are very excited about… This capability enables you to bring your data and combine your tabular data, that could be customer business data, that could be store business performance data, that could be public data such as demographics or socio-economic data, put all that together into interesting thematics against zip code, neighborhood, county, and create these thematic visualizations. These are excellent tools for driving business decisions.”
Google Maps Platform displays some geographic information and boundaries, such as city limits, state borders, or even neighborhoods, as polygons. This wealth of information provides incredible opportunities for geospatial data visualization that were not available before. By combining your business’ data with Google Maps Platform’s boundary data you can easily create map-based visualizations to guide your business’ success. Imagine being able to visualize property prices across regions, customer counts by zip code, or store performance in each locality. All of this can now be done within the familiar and high-powered Google Maps Platform, rather than relying on specialty tools and firms.
Tips for Data Driven Styling in Google Maps Platform
Doucett: “Our first tip is choosing an appropriate geographic unit… When you’re trying to create a map you really want to choose the appropriate level of detail for the problem you’re trying to solve or the information you’re trying to convey. For a question where the data is summarized at the county level, using county sized units might be the appropriate choice there… Our next tip is to apply normalization to your data where appropriate. This is what is implied when we have these area weighted or population weighted maps, where for example we want to show the average number of hours spent commuting per week or the average sale price in a certain zip code. It’s easy to miss some of those finer trends that come out when you’re averaging by area or population. Not all zip codes or towns are the same size… Our last tip is about these data bins. Choosing a binning method is very important… You can have the exact same dataset and get very different maps. So depending on what you want to focus on and what you want to represent, choosing the right binning method is very important… This is something we can help you with!”
While making these visualizations within the Google Maps Platform is easier than ever before there are still many pitfalls and ways to make a less than ideal map. You can get a huge number of different maps while still using the same dataset. Identifying your informational needs and what trends you want to represent is key to successfully using these new tools and getting the most out of Google Maps Platform. Partnering with a Google Partner, such as AppGeo and Sanborn, can provide the edge needed to turn good data visualization into great data visualization.
How AppGeo Can Help You Get Started
Holmes: “There are lots and lots of tips and tricks on how to do it in the best way. That’s where we can help you. We provide a consulting program we call spatial IQ, that addresses all types of topics around implementing with Google Maps: best practices, how to optimize usage so you don’t waste money, how to build simple and effective user experiences, with this new capability we can help you set up the data driven styling. We have lots of experience and years of geospatial analytics and how to answer those right questions… If you’d like to consider outsourcing we also provide that as our professional services… We focus on simple purpose driven user experiences… We work closely with you to build exactly what you and your audience needs to see. We also provide full-on strategic planning.”
The best way to make the most of these new exciting tools is to work with a Google Maps Platform partner to take your data visualization to the next level. AppGeo and Sanborn can provide a range of services, from consulting to full-on outsourcing for all your data visualization needs.