Uploading and visualizing your data

This guide will walk you through uploading and visualizing your own data in Social Explorer, as well as explain the basic requirements when it comes to preparing your file for upload.

Social Explorer is a suite of online tools and data that allows you to visually explore hundreds of thousands of variables from demography, economy, and health, to religion, crime and more. You can easily visualize and interact with data, create reports and downloads for offline processing.

However, after speaking to a number of our users, we noticed a feature many of them were missing – uploading geospatial data. We just published an update, and we’re happy to say that you can now upload and visualize your own locations right on Social Explorer maps. Here’s what you need to know! 

Preparing your data

There are two ways you can visualize geospatial data in Social Explorer: by latitude and longitude, and by geocoding the actual address. Bear in mind that, as of right now, Geocoder currently only works with the United States addresses, and only CSV files are supported.

In order to geocode your locations using latitude and longitude, you will need to create two columns in your CSV file – one for latitude, and one for longitude. However, while using latitude and longitude is the most precise way to mark locations on a map, you’re not always going to have the exact latitude and longitude coordinates. This is why we built Geocoder – a tool designed to make marking addresses seamless and effortless. It’s important to note that by address we don’t mean just complete street addresses. You can mark zip codes, cities, states, as well as counties on your map using this tool.

Social Explorer even allows you to dedicate a single column in your CSV file to addresses, or break the address into columns, such as street name, street number, zip code, state, and so on. Whether you use a single or multiple columns, Social Explorer will extract one address per row, so make sure you divide different addresses into rows. The more detailed the address is, the more accurate the marker will be, so you’ll want to include as much information as you have.

Uploading your data

Once you prepare your CSV file with the required geospatial data, you can upload it to any of the maps you’ve created in Social Explorer. You can read more on getting started with maps here. In this guide, we’ll be using a sample file with all the 911 calls in New York.

  1. Open the map you want to add your geospatial data to.
  2. In the upper-right corner, click the menu icon and select Upload My Data.
  3. Drag a CSV file to the rectangle in the right-hand sidebar or click BROWSE to find the CSV file on your computer.

Using longitude and latitude

If you want to place your markers based on their latitude and longitude, you will need to make sure your CSV file contains both the latitude and the longitude columns. This doesn’t mean you can’t include other columns as well – in fact, you’ll want to include columns such as title, description, or even address, phone number, and category, depending on the locations you’re visualizing.

  1. Open the Lat & Long tab in the right-hand sidebar. 
  2. In the latitude column dropdown, select the name of the column you added latitude coordinates to.
  3. In the longitude column dropdown, select the name of the column you added longitude coordinates to.
  4. Click Add Layer.

Geocoding your locations

  1. Open the Geocode tab in the right-hand sidebar.
  2. If you did not split the addresses into different columns, check the box next to Full address is in a single column
  3. If you did split the addresses into different columns, assign a column to each address element, whether you have just the address, city, state, ZIP code, or county column, or all of these elements. 
  4. Click Add Layer.

Style your data

Social Explorer allows you to style the data you just uploaded to match your personal preferences or brand image. By default, all markers have the same style and locations are represented by the same marker – a star.

However, if you want, you can differentiate locations by a certain value.

  1. In the Style dropdown, we’ll go ahead and select By value
  2. In the value dropdown, we’ll select Complaint Type. This allows us to assign each agency that received the call a particular symbol and color. Of course, you can style your markers by any column you want, and each value in the column will be represented by a different marker. 
  3. In the Labels dropdown, select the column from which you want to display text as the label for each location. We’ll go ahead and set the Complaint Type column as the label. 
  4. Check the box next to Allow markers to overlap, if you have too many locations next to each other, and you want to visualize them all. If you don’t check the box, certain markers will not be displayed.

Display additional information

The information you want to convey to your readers will not always neatly fit on your map, or will make your visualization feel cluttered. This is where the interactive popup comes in handy. This element will only appear when a reader rests the mouse pointer on a place marker. There are two main elements of every popup: popup title and popup content.

  1. Check the box next to Display popup
  2. In the Popup title dropdown, select the column from which you want to load the title.

Popup title is considerably larger and bolder text when compared to the popup content text.

  1. In the Popup content dropdown, select the column you want to add. You can add as many elements as you need.

Saving your data

Once you’re done customizing the look and feel of the data you uploaded and visualized, the visualization will be added to the map as a layer.

  1. In the right-hand sidebar, click the pencil icon to edit the name of the layer. We’ll go ahead and call our layer NYC 911 calls
  2. Click Done.

You can even further customize your map by enabling and disabling individual layers.