Showing additional layers

This guide will:

Here at Social Explorer, we focus on providing our customers with the latest data and state-of-the-art visualization tools. This includes endless customization options, such as predefined and custom color palettes, various visualization types, and map view modes. In addition to tweaking colors and choosing the visualization type that works best for your data, you can customize the map itself by enabling or disabling different layers.

Layers behave a lot like transparent sheets of plastic stacked on top of each other. Each layer contains distinct types of objects, whether it’s data, lines, label, or other shapes.

Certain layers are enabled automatically

Social Explorer includes dozens of layers: everything from the world continents and water area labels to world capitals and countries. However, always displaying all the layers would make any visualization come across as pretty cluttered. This is why Social Explorer is set up to display certain layers only at particular zoom levels.

For example, when viewing the United States map, the default geography level is state. However, as you zoom in, other layers will be displayed. If you zoom to level 5, you’ll see the county borders. In this case, county borders are a separate layer which becomes activated as you zoom in. State borders, on the other hand, get disabled. Other examples of layers that are automatically displayed are county labels and landmarks, among others.

We’ve updated our platform to include many new and interesting map layers, enhancing your data analysis experience. Head over to our layer library on Social Explorer and explore a wide range of additional layers including Historic Places, Environmental Health Index, Wildfire Potential and many more!

Manually enable geographies

You can manually change the geography level for which data is displayed. For example, here’s what you need to do if you want to display household income per census tract. First, let’s select the variable.

  1. IIn the Change data menu, click Change data.
  2. Select Income (ACS 2017 5-Year Estimates) from the Categories tab. 
  3. Scroll down to the section called Household Income (In 2017 Inflation Adjusted Dollars) – Cumulative (More).
  4. Click More than $60,000.

At this point, the variable is displayed at the state level. Let’s switch it up a bit without scrolling.

  1. Click Change geography level in the Change data menu.
  2. Select Census Tract from the geography level dropdown menu.

You’ve probably noticed by now that the data is loaded for each tract, and as you move around the cursor, the tooltip displays the tract information. However, because we still haven’t zoomed in enough, the layer with the census tract borders is yet to be displayed. It is only after you’ve zoomed in above zoom level 9 that the thin white lines representing tract borders will be displayed.

Furthermore, there are certain layers which Social Explorer will never display by default, regardless of how much you zoom in. For example, census tract names is one of those layers. To display census tract labels, follow these steps:

  1. In the Change data menu, click the menu button menu button.
  2. Select Map layers.
  3. Scroll down to Labels: Census Tracts and check the box next to it to enable the layer.
  4. Click on the X symbol to close the Map layers panel.

Census tract labels are visible only on zoom level 10 or higher.

To upload your data or turn on satellite view, navigate to the Map layers option. To learn more about uploading your data, read this guide. To learn how to turn on satellite view, check out this guide.

There are dozens of other layers in the Map layers settings which you can show or hide, but keep in mind that certain layers, even when enabled in the Map layers settings, will become visible only at a certain zoom level. Another example of such layers, apart from tract labels, is ZCTA5 borders, which appear only at zoom level 9 and beyond.