Exploring SimplyMap Data: America’s Historic Homes

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In this week’s exploration of SimplyMap data, we set out to find which cities in the United States have the highest percentage of older houses. To determine this, we used the variable “% Housing, Built 1939 or Earlier”. The metadata for this variable is shown below:


The ranking report allows SimplyMap users to analyze the data by different geographies. For example, if you select the United States as your location, you may rank the data by: USA, States, Congressional Districts, Counties, Cities, ZIP Codes, and Census Tracts.


First, we’ll take a look at the top 10 states. For reference, 12.71% of all of the housing stock in the USA was built before 1939.


Not surprisingly, the majority of the states with the highest percentage of older homes are located in the northeast. When we switched to cities and applied a population filter > 50,000 we were left with the following cities:


At 67.53% of homes built in 1939 or earlier, Cicero, IL ranks first among cities with populations greater than 50,000 in the United States. We then used the feature to make a map directly from the results page by hovering over Cicero, IL and selecting “Create Map” from the action drop down.


It looks like Cicero, IL is located about 10 miles west from the heart of Chicago.


Want more tips and examples of SimplyMap reports? Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to stay informed!


SimplyMap Tip: Creating a Custom Location

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Custom Locations allow SimplyMap users to combine several locations into one larger region. For example, you can use this feature to combine three adjacent ZIP Codes to create your study area.

In this example, we will take a look at neighborhoods (at the block group level) surrounding a university in Chicago.

To get started creating your custom location from the map, use the i-tool and select a location. There will be a drop down to “Add to Combination” with an option to “Create New Combination”.


This will open up a box to create your combination. Enter a name, and Save.


Once saved, your combination location will be available to have additional locations added to it. To add more locations, use the i-tool over a location once more, and select “Add to Combination” while choosing the combination that was just created.


Repeat this process with all locations you would like to include. Selecting the locations panel, and going to “Custom” will allow you to access your new location.


Below is a map representing the new custom location.


One of the additional features of creating a custom location, is that this location can be utilized throughout your reports. SimplyMap will combine the data from each individual location, and present the total for the combined custom location.


Method #2

The second method of creating a custom combination does not require the user to have the location in a recent or favorites, as described above.

1. Go to locations, and select your geography.

2. Check the box for Custom Location, as shown below:


3. Select “Combination Location” (by default the Radius Location will be checked)

4. If you don’t already have a custom area, select “Create Combination” and give the target area a name, as shown below:


5. Save

6. Now you can select the drop down of locations and add them into your new custom combination that you created.


When you’re ready to use your new location, select “Use This Combination”

Stay tuned for more SimplyMap tips and tricks! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @SimplyMap.


GRI Exhibiting at OLA Super Conference, January 28-31 [Booth #T8]

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Stop by the Geographic Research booth at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference to check out SimplyMap Canada. The conference will take place January 28-31 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The Ontario Library Association is Canada’s largest library organization and OLA’s Super Conference is Canada’s largest continuing education event in librarianship, with the country’s largest library tradeshow hosting 5,000 attendees.

Stop by our booth, #T8, for a demonstration of SimplyMap Canada and to view the latest tips, tricks and exciting new content.



GRI Exhibiting at ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago [Booth #2824] – See you on January 30th!

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Visit the SimplyMap team at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago late January. We will be at booth #2824 offering product demonstrations, tips & tricks, and of course Ghirardelli Chocolate!

Exhibit Hours

Friday, January 30th – 5:30pm-7:30pm

Saturday, January 31st – 9:00am-5:00pm

Sunday, February 1st – 9:00am-5:00pm

Monday, February 2nd – 9:00am-2:00pm



American Household Spending on Pets

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In this week’s SimplyMap blog post, we set out to discover which large US cities spend the most money per year on their pets. To find this out we used the variable, “Pets, Household Average” found in the consumer expenditure category in SimplyMap.


The national quantiles (by counties) in our legend ranged from a low of $190.35 to a high of $751.84. Using the “Create Ranking from Map” feature, we were presented with the following unfiltered results:


Creating a ranking report from a map using the US as the location will present county level data by default. Because we wanted to find larger US cities, we had to do two things: change the geography that the data was analyzed by, and create a population filter to show cities with a population greater than 100,000.

Changing How the Data is Analyzed

Changing the geographies of your ranking report is a simple two step process. First, select the “analyze data by” drop down menu and then select a new geographic unit. SimpyMap will present your new data immediately.


Creating and Applying a Filter

To create and apply a filter to only show cities with a population > 100,000:

Select “Data filters” then “Create new filter” from the top right of your screen.


At the filter creation screen, we used a recent variable # Population. We then set the condition to be greater than and typed in the value of 100,000. Lastly, we created a name and saved the filter.


Final Results Presented

Using the Display Options menu located near the top right of SimplyMap, we chose to hide results that did not meet our criteria of a city population greater than 100,000. The final results are below:


At a yearly average of $737.86, Highlands Ranch, CO ranks #1 in the United States in yearly average household spending on pets.

Stay tuned for more reports and SimplyMap tips & tricks!


SimplyMap Tip – Editing the Map Legend

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Today we take a look at one of the more advanced features in SimplyMap – editing the map legend. Editing the map legend is a great way to not only customize how the data is distributed on the map, but to also change the look and feel of the map.

First, you can customize the map by changing the geographic unit shown and the variable year from the legend.


Data can be displayed by State, Congressional District, County, City, ZIP Code, Census Tract, or Census Block Group. The geographic unit can be chosen manually, or you can check the box labeled “Auto-select Geo Unit,” and SimplyMap will automatically display the most appropriate geography based on the zoom level of the map. Zooming into an area will result in increasingly smaller geographic units and present the data in greater detail.

To edit other aspects of the map legend, select “Edit Legend” at the bottom of the legend. The Legend Editor will open. The image below details this dialog, along with an explanation of what can be edited:


1. Classification Method: This dropdown determines how the data in your map is grouped. There are multiple methods for calculating break values for the data. You can select any of the following from the Classification Method menu:

•Quantiles (Local)
•Quantiles (National)
•Natural Breaks (Local)
•Natural Breaks (National)
•Equal Intervals

Changing from Quantiles (National) to Quantiles (Local) will reconfigure your data ranges to reflect a sample of locations from the current view, as opposed to viewing it on a national scale.

You can learn more about each of the classification methods in the FAQ.

2. Number of Categories: Determines the number of data ranges you would like to see. This will also impact the number of colors you see on the map. By default, this will show 5.


3. Color Scheme: Changes the map’s color scheme. Alternatively, if you select an individual box in the legend, you can apply your color of choice for each.


4. Data Values: Allows the user to manually enter new category break values and create custom data ranges.


5. Outline Color/Outline Thickness: Changes the color and thickness of your map’s outline. The image below shows a map’s color outline and thickness set to a darker grey, and 2 respectively.


This is what the final map would look like with the edited color outline and thickness:


Stay tuned for more SimplyMap tips and tricks!



Exploring SimplyMap Data: America’s Most Educated Cities

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In this week’s report, we research America’s most educated cities. SimplyMap contains a total of 111 educational attainment variables, including general population and by race.

We used the variable “% Education, College, Master’s or Doctorate Degree” to account for all populations possessing at least a bachelor’s degree. This variable can be found using the following path: Census Data >> 2010 Geographies >> People and Households >> Education >> Attainment. The image below details this path.


The following US map was then created, shown by county:


Using the Make Ranking from Map feature while viewing the US, the report will rank county level data by default.


We then utilized the Analyze data by tool found at the top of the results, and changed the geographies to display cities.


Lastly, we applied a data filter to only show cities with populations greater than 50,000 (read our entry on using the data filter here). In the end, we were left with the following results:


It looks like Cupertino, CA ranks #1 in the US for having the most college graduates at 70.5%, narrowly beating out Palo Alto, CA (70.41%) and Hoboken, NJ (69.28%).

Is there a variable you’re interested in seeing mapped or ranked? Let us know!


SimplyMap Tip – Creating a Map from a Ranking Report

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Our recent series Exploring SimplyMap Data Reports has focused on creating ranking reports for unique variables. Accordingly, we thought it would be helpful to write a quick tip on how to create a map directly from the ranking results.

After creating a ranking report in SimplyMap, you can quickly create a map using any of the locations in your ranking. Let’s look at an example.

Our November 6 Report, “Which US Locations Dine Out the Most?” identified ZIP code 95035 in Milpitas, CA as the ZIP Code with the highest average spending on restaurant and carry out meals. We can find out exactly where it is located by mapping the location directly from the report by hovering over the location and selecting “Create Map” from the action dropdown, as shown below:


A map using the ranked variable (Meals at restaurants, carry outs and other (Household Average), 2014) will then be created. The image below shows an exported image of ZIP code 95035 in Milpitas, CA.


Stay tuned for more SimplyMap tips and tricks!


Veterans in the United States

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With Veteran’s Day in the US this week, we thought it would be an ideal time to explore some of the variables in SimplyMap that pertain to veterans. Specifically, we wanted to know which cities, zip codes, and states had the highest percentage of veterans? Because we are ranking by different geographies, a Ranking Report in SimplyMap is the best choice.

The variable used was, “% Veterans, Total” which can be found using this path:

Census Data >> 2010 Geographies >> People and Households >> Veterans.

For locations, we started off with the United States, and analyzed three different geographies (individually) from the Analyze data by drop down.


Here are the results for state, city, and zip code:



CITY (population > 10,000):


LARGE CITY (population > 100,000):


ZIP CODE (population > 1,000):


Did any of the results surprise you? Let us know!

We’d like to extend a big THANK YOU to all veterans and those currently serving.



Exploring SimplyMap Data: Which US Locations Dine Out the Most?

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With over 75,000 variables in SimplyMap, you can find virtually any information you want. This week, we take a look at which U.S. locations spend the most money eating at restaurants or carrying out. Here’s how we did it and what we found.

The variable used was, “Meals at restaurants, carry outs and other (Household Average), 2014.” This variable can be found using this path in SimplyMap: Consumer Expenditure » In 2010 Geographies » Food » Food Away from Home » At Restaurants, Carry-Out, Etc.

Before we rank other geographies, let’s view the nation at large.


This provides a great overview, and we can see that a number of counties, mostly focused in the Northeast and West, lead the way for average household spending on dining out. We can analyze the data further by ranking these counties, using the “Make Ranking from Map” feature, which can be accessed from the Actions menu near the upper right corner of the Map panel.


Selecting, “Make Ranking from Map” yielded the following top 10 counties:


It looks like Loudoun County, VA spends the most amount of money dining out at restaurants in the United States.

Next, we wanted to view the same variable by city. Use the Analyze data by: menu at the top of the report to change the geographic unit to cities (note that you can also choose States, Zip Codes, or even Census Tracts if you want information about a specific local area).


When we switched to city, and applied a data filter to only show cities with more than 50,000 residents (read more about our data filter here), we were left with the following cities:


This information, combined with some additional research in SimplyMap, could be helpful in understanding dining habits in your study area, or even in siting a new business. SimplyMap combines analytical insight from reports like these with the visual impact of compelling maps in your research to help you understand, analyze, and visualize your data.