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Enter the 2015 Student Data Visualization Contest

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 09:33

Calling all Duke undergrad and grad students! Have you worked on a course or research project that included some kind of visualization? Maybe you made a map for a history class paper. Maybe you invented a new type of chart to summarize the results of your experiment. Maybe you played around with an infographic builder just for fun.

Now is the time to start thinking about submitting those visualizations to the Duke Student Data Visualization Contest. It’s easy — just grab a screenshot or export an image of your visualization, write up a short description explaining how you made it, and submit it using our Sakai project site (search for “2015 DataVis Contest”). The deadline is right after finals this fall, so just block in a little extra time at the end of the semester once you’re done with your final assignments and projects.

Not sure what would work as a good submission? Check out our Flickr gallery with examples from the past two years.

Not sure if you’re eligible? If were a Duke student (that is, enrolled in a degree granting program, so no post-docs) any time during 2014, and you did the work while you were a student, you’re golden!

Want to know more about the technical details and submission instructions? Check out the full contest instruction site.

The post Enter the 2015 Student Data Visualization Contest appeared first on Duke Libraries Data & Visualization Services.

Story Maps

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 13:49
Telling Stories with Maps

“Story maps” are a popular method of telling place-themed stories and engaging with your audience over the web. Story maps are highly interactive, allowing users to follow along a path or time-line with links to content along the way. They’re also a great way to visualize current events and news topics in a way that brings perspective and context to important issues. As a student or researcher, you can use maps to tell a story about your research study area. In that sense, they can be a great tool for drawing attention to your work, and you could consider it another form of social media.

Creating a web map may seem like a challenge if you’ve never done it before, but there are several tools available online that can quickly and easily generate a story map. For this post, I’ll introduce you to two different types of story maps and suggest some free tools for creating your own.

Mapping Places or Events 

Story maps that cover a series of events are useful for contextualizing news events, giving an online tour, or linking to almost any kind of location specific information. Story maps of this style are fun to use because they typically provide both a map and multimedia content. The user accesses the information in an interactive format -which is a great way for your message to sink in!

For example, I created this story map that links historic building photos of the Construction of Duke University to their locations on a map.

View the full size map here.

Some applications for this type of story map are publishing information about research areas, adding new points of access for digital humanities, or documenting travel or a field expedition.

Thematic Maps

Another popular style of story map is one that presents a series of thematic maps. These types of maps often depict how changes have occurred over time in a place or perhaps the unfolding of a news event. Side-by-side comparison of maps can also be a visually interesting way to illustrate an important issue. An interesting comparison map might show US Census demographic data from different census years in a city to show how people have changed.

This map illustrates how manufacturing jobs have changed around Flint Michigan from 1990 to 2010.

Click here for full size.

There are also some really cool interactive features out there for this style of map like a tabbed viewer, a swipe or slide function between two different maps, and ESRI’s SpyGlass.

Create Your Own!

Some great tools are available to the Duke community and freely on the web that let you create these types of “story maps” with minimal training. Here are three tools you can use and what each does best…

StoryMap JS is a completely free and open access tool by the Knight Lab at Northwestern University. A Google account is necessary because StoryMap JS actually saves the maps you create in the recent folder of your Google Drive. StoryMap JS is incredibly easy to use, too. It has a very simple and intuitive interface that will let you start making your map in minutes. You can also use StoryMap JS for non-cartographic visual materials, and there is a cool off-shoot that allows your to instantly map 20 recent geo-tagged Instagram photos from any user account. Best Uses: Try using StoryMap JS when you’re telling a story that unfolds over a path or timeline. It’s also great for linking to media like photos or YouTube content.

Social Explorer You may have used Social Explorer before to gather US Census data, but you can also create thematic maps that you can share or embed in a website. With your Duke credentials, you have access to the Professional Edition. The data is pre-loaded, so you’re just a few clicks away from a beautifully shaded thematic map of US Census Data that you can share over the web. The map interface is user-friendly and has a “Change Layout” button at the bottom center that creates side-by-side and swipe comparison maps. You can also create an annotated presentation that let’s the user cycle through a series of maps. Here is a quick example of a map presentation I made in Social Explorer. Best Uses: Social Explorer’s best use is for mapping US Census data. The “Tell a Story” function allows you to join graphs and other media to your map and create interactive presentation slides.

ESRI ArcGIS Online For more advanced users, or just those looking for more customization options, ArcGIS Online offers an abundance of tools and templates for creating attractive and engaging map presentations. ArcGIS Online Story Maps require an account with ESRI. You can sign up for a free public account, or, for more advanced features, you can request a free organizational account that is available to the Duke community. To take advantage of all ArcGIS Online has to offer, you will need to familiarize yourself with the how to use it. Once you’ve made a few maps, you can load maps and multimedia content into any of ESRI’s Story Map Apps. Take a look at this gallery of to view some examples of what you can do with Story Maps in ArcGIS Online. Even though there is a bit of a learning curve to ArcGIS Online, the pay off is huge.

Here is a customized slider map I made using the Story Map Swipe App that shows changes in North Carolina’s Congressional District Boundaries following the 2012 redistricting. Use the slider to swipe between views.

View the full size map here.

Best Uses: Fully customized story maps of any type. Great for telling place-based stories and presenting a series of thematic maps complete with multimedia content.

I hope you enjoyed viewing some of these story maps! I’m sure you can see that there are many different uses for this type of media. If you’ve made a cool story map, feel free to share it with us in the comments!

The post Story Maps appeared first on Duke Libraries Data & Visualization Services.

Welcome to the Current Population Statistics on the Web

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 12:34

Duke University recently acquired access to the online version of its Current Population Statistics (CPS) CD-ROM collection to facilitate easy access to CPS data (Unicon’s CPS Utilities on the Web).  This blog post will walk through the basic data extraction process.  The interface is comparable to that provided by the CD, and users of this collection will find the interface and powerful.  Please note that the instructions provided on the web site are very important to read, particularly for those unfamiliar with the CPS CD version.

Create an Account

When you visit the Unicon site (http://unicon.com/), click the “CPS on Web” link to the left, then click the Register button.  You will have to enter some information to complete the registration process.

Once complete, submit the information.  Once the registration window closes, choose the CPS series (or month) you wish to query, and log in to the system.

 

Navigation and Data Extraction

Once logged in, you will see a popup window like that shown in the image to the right.  For a typical data extraction, the following steps are advised.

1) First, click the Set Option button and chang4e the timeout to at least 300 seconds.  This will ensure successful data extraction.

2) Next, click the Make an Extraction button, followed by the Request Editor button on the next page.  You should see a page similar to that below (all variables used in your prior extraction will be listed).

3) Remove any variables you do not need.  Next, make certain the variable you wish to include is selected at the top and click “Add Variable(s).”  Alternatively, if you already know the names of the variables, you may type them into the boxes provided on the page.

4) Once all variables are added to the selection, click Continue.  On the following page, specify the output format for the dataset.  Once complete, be certain to select one or more years (at the top).  After you have selected years, click the Extract button.

5) On the following page, you will be presented with a list of variables by year.  As variables change across years in some cases, not all selected variables may be present for each year.  When selecting variables, checking the “View Documentation” checkbox at the top will allow for browsing of available years.

 

Other Useful Tools

- The Make a Table button allows for the construction of crosstabs of observations, means, and other statistics.  This is helpful if the goal is to locate variables for analysis or if there is a choice between two or more variables.

- The Make a Graph button is also useful for data exploration.  The program provides the ability to construct hsitograms, line charts, scatter ploys, pie charts, and bar charts.  Basic summaries of a variable can also be generated from this page.

- If your data need to be weighted to represent the US population, be certain to select the appropriate weight under the Apply Weights button before extraction.

- Subsets of individuals can also be produced under the Specify Universe button.  For example, a specific race or gender can be specified to reduce the sample to what you need.

The post Welcome to the Current Population Statistics on the Web appeared first on Duke Libraries Data & Visualization Services.

Meet Data and Visualization Services

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 08:29

The fall of 2014 marks the completion of the first five years of the libraries’ Data and GIS Services Department. In 2009, when Mark Thomas and I formed the department, the name accurately reflected our staffing and services as Mark focused on GIS-related issues and I focused on data-related issues. As an increasing number of scholars have embraced data-driven research over the last five years , our services and staff have grown to support an increasingly diverse set of research needs at Duke.

In 2010-2011 academic year, the Libraries launched services around data management and sharing plans in anticipation of new funding rules surrounding research data. In 2012, the library expanded data services in collaboration with OIT’s Research Computing to offer one of the first data visualization consulting positions in the country. In 2013 and 2014, we expanded services and staff to include consultations on research computing and big data.

At this year’s Data and GIS Services annual retreat, we decided that the time has come to change the name of the department to reflect the broader range of staff and consulting services available. While we continue to support our traditional dimensions of data and GIS research, we intend to support a range of data needs across the following five themes:

Data and Visualization Services Themes

Data Sources
Get the data you need. Data and Visualization Services consultants can help you locate and license a diverse range of data sources.  We also provide long term storage for Duke data collections through Duke’s institutional repository.

Data Storage and Management
Need help on a data management plan, want advice on archiving, or struggling with “big data” analytics?  We are happy to consult!

Data Cleaning and Analysis
From Google Refine to the command line, we can help with data cleaning and analysis.

Mapping and GIS
Mapping and spatial analysis remain a core service for the data and visualization program.

Data Visualization
Our data visualization service can help with the most effective way to represent your data for both analysis and communication.

 

We appreciate the research community’s support as we’ve grown over the last five years.  We look forward to working with you on a larger range of data challenges in the future!

The post Meet Data and Visualization Services appeared first on Duke Libraries Data & Visualization Services.