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 which 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, and create reports and downloads for offline processing.

However, after speaking to a number of our users, we realized that a key feature was missing for many of them – uploading geospatial data. We’re happy to announce 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 to visualize your geospatial data in Social Explorer: by latitude and longitude, and by geocoding the actual address. Bear in mind that as of now, the Geocoder currently only works with 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 another 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 different columns for street name, street number, zip code, state, and so on. Whether you use a single column 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 can.

Uploading your data

Once you’ve prepared your CSV file with the required geospatial data, you can upload it to any of the maps that you’ve created in Social Explorer. You can read more about getting started with maps here. In the present guide, we’ll be using a sample file with all the 311 calls in New York.

  1. Open the map to which you want to add your geospatial data.
  2. In the Change data menu, click the menu button icon and select Upload data from the Map layers tab. 
  3. Click Browse to find the CSV file on your computer or drop your CSV file directly in the Upload your point data panel.

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 longitude columns. This does not mean that 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 left-hand sidebar. 
  2. In the latitude column dropdown, select the name of the column to which you added latitude coordinates.
  3. In the longitude column dropdown, select the name of the column to which you added longitude coordinates.
  4. Click Add layer.

Geocoding your locations

  1. Open the Geocode tab in the left-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.

We’ve added a brand new tool to our geography selection toolbox, the layers selection tool. Using this tool, you can select geographies from your uploaded datasets and easily create reports or a mask for those specific geographies in Social Explorer maps. 

Style your data

Social Explorer allows you to style the data that you just uploaded to match your personal preferences or brand image.

Point markers

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 markers by dropdown, we’ll go ahead and 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.
  2. In the Set 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.
  3. 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.

Bubble visualization

Previously, the only way to visualize your point data was in the form of location markers or pins on Social Explorer maps. You can now choose to visualize your uploaded data in bubble form and add more insights to your maps. Each data point is represented using the area of the bubble. Using the bubble visualization feature for your uploaded datasets enables you to easily compare proportions over geographic regions. You can also overlay Social Explorer data on these maps for enhanced analysis.

Let’s take a look at how to use this feature

  1. Click the Change button in the Visualize layer as menu at the top of the visualization panel and select the Bubbles option.
  2. Once you’ve selected the bubble visualization option for your uploaded dataset, you can change the bubble area by using the “Size by” dropdown menu. If the values in the column are too small, the bubble size can be boosted using the “Bubble size factor” slider. Enable the “Display popup window with additional information on hover” checkbox to play around with your visualization.

You can also choose to visualize your uploaded data in the form of shaded bubbles. The shaded bubble visualization option allows you to show two data points at the same time: one using the area of the bubble and the other one using the color of the bubble.

The map legend on Social Explorer maps does not display information pertaining to user uploaded data. The user uploaded data layer comes up in the map layers panel after you have added it to the map, from where you can edit it as you like, changing visual elements (point markers or bubble map) and deciding how much information you'd like to add to the popup.

Head over to this guide to learn more about data visualization types.

Display additional information

The information you want to convey to your readers will not always neatly fit on your map, or too much information 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 cursor 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 window with additional information on hover.
  2. In the Popup title dropdown, select the column from which you want to load the title.

The popup title is a 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 the vertical ellipsis icon to edit the name of the layer. We’ll go ahead and call our layer NYC 911 calls
  2. Click Done.

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

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!