Map Business Online Blog

Read about business mapping and how it can help your business succeed.

Filter Your Imported Data in Map Business Online

Business mapping software usually enables spatial searches and filtering searches of your business data.

Filtering data in Map Business Online is a little different from conducting a spatial search of your business data. Once you’ve imported data into MBO to create business maps or just plain business data visualization you can create subset lists of your data based on geographic queries and data filtering.

A geographic query or spatial search is a search conducted within an area that the user designates using search tools in the product. It might be a radius search or a search based on a polygon or drive time area.  It could be the search of a specific map sales territory or market area of interest.
Spatial Search Examples
A Spatial Search

A filtered search takes place in the Map Business Online Data Window.  Open the Data Window.  In the middle of the Data Window tool bar you will notice two search operations along the Data Window tool bar:

  1. A quick search – A blank white space with a binocular icon and a delete button. Cursor-hover over this and it will say: Enter text to search data rows by name
  2. A filter icon button – Cursor-hover over the filter icon and it will say: Filter data rows

Use the Quick Search function to search data by the Left most column of your imported data. Enter a keyword, a few letters, unique numbers to get a set of results which will display in the data window.
Filtered Data example
A Filter Search

Use the Filter button to open the filter dialogue box which will, allow you to search any column of your data. Within the Filter dialog you may choose the column or columns you wish to search and then use the drop down in the middle to apply a modifier to your search.  A modifier might include symbols like > (greater than), = (equal too), or contains, among a few other modifiers. Once applied these modifiers generate a result that is displayed in the data window – a subset of the originally imported data layer.  You will notice in the lower right of the results a tally of the number of returned results and the original file’s total number of records.

Whether you are working with the Quick Search or the Filter button your data can be filtered on the actual map view too.  You’ll notice a Check-box labeled Filter Data on the Map just below the Data drop down in the upper left hand corner of the data window. Check that box and your data results will be the only data showing on the map.

Also, you will now be able to export your filtered data result to a CSV file and use the data outside of Map Business Online. To export simply click the right most button on the Data Window tool bar. An alternative export method is the old school cut and paste.

Cut and Paste functions in Map Business Online occur when you click the Copy Data & paste button in the lower right corner of the Data Window. You’ll see the double page icon and when you hover over it, the button says: Copy data to clipboard. Pay attention to the Copy Data button dialogue. You will note you can resize the Data Window view to change the number of records visible in the window and copy and paste just those visible records. This comes in handy at times.

To the right of the filter button are two additional tools you can use to create marketing lists out of multiple filtering actions. You could, for instance, create a new marketing list and populate it with data results from multiple filtering operations.

MBO users use data filtering operations in the Data Window to support a variety of business activities:

I’m sure there are many applications for data filtering that your business can dream up. Geographic and spatial searches are core features for business mapping and GIS applications.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into www.MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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How Can I Query a List of Cities?

Sometimes a business map user wants to conduct a radius search on a data base of cities, and to export the query result out of the application. A search result of cities can be achieved using Map Business Online, and other business mapping software applications.  A few tweaks are necessary to set up the city data.

Cities are present in Map Business Online in multiple ways.  The base map data shows cities as part of the background map tapestry that is included with Map Business Online. However, the cities in the base map data are not query-able because they are part of the base map raster image, as opposed to a layer on top of a vector map background.The background base map is a one continuous image that covers the whole world and that image includes cities and towns.

MBO users can make sure their vector layers, like zip codes, states or counties, are set to transparent which will let those cities and towns show through and into your map analysis. Transparency controls are located in your target map layer in Map and Data. Still, that background map raster image will only show certain cites at certain zoom levels. Zoom further in to expose less populated cities and towns.

Premium Map Layers

Additional map layers are available in Map Business Online for annual subscription holders.  Click the Blue Globe button on the tool bar, now located about seven buttons in from the left.  Here you’ll find City Limits and Cities, as well as other additional layers of interest.

For developing exportable lists of cities, you’ll want to use the City Limits layer.  The layer called Cities is a visual reference of city points only. Users can add the City layer on top of territory or market analysis maps, for reference purposes, but you can’t query the City layer.
City Query
If you Add your City Limits layer to the map you’ll be able to build areas of interest and territories based on City Limits, just like you’ve done using State, County or Zip Code layers. City Limit objects are presented to the map viewer based on city population size – the more populated cities show up at the zoomed out levels.  As you zoom into the map more cities and towns come into view.

City Limit territories and markets areas will include all city limit objects within your designated circular or polygon areas of interest. If you conduct a radius search the resultant dataset will include all the city limits touched by the radius or polygon object as well as all cities included within the circle or polygon.

I love the city limit layer for building demographic maps or for creating map analysis that tends to focus on metropolitan areas.

Adding the City Limits layer to your map lets you build areas of interest and export those city and town names out of MBO as a CSV file. A city limits based areas of interest view is also sharable through interactive map web map sharing, through shared saved image files, or via a printable map. MBO users can also add city names to your zip code analysis as well. Read on.

USPS Zip Codes

When you purchase or try Map Business Online, the application comes setup with Census ZTCA zip codes preloaded.  With ZTCA zips selected, territories and market areas of interest will list zip codes but will not include cities and towns, or placenames in your zip code analysis. To change this, open the Map & Data box.  Choose the Edit Gear on Map and Data tool bar.  You are now in the Manage Map and Data function. Choose the Zip codes tab.

In Zip Codes, along the bottom there is a drop down for Zip Code options.  Choose USPS Zip Codes with Fillers.  Fillers will allow you to fill in territory gaps over national parks; this can be helpful out West or in northern Maine. By choosing the USPS zip codes, your zip code map analysis and sales territory mapping will now include a column for Placename and in this case Placenames refers to a database of cities and towns.

Once you’ve chosen your Zip Code option, all territories and areas of interest you create moving forward will include a column for Placenames. Please be aware your old maps will not pick up this change.

Import Your Own List of Cities

Now you might think we’ve got you completely covered in Map Business Online with the various city data options listed above; and for most people, we do.  However, you’ll run into the occasional business map user who has a boss who wants to see only certain cities on his map, or perhaps he or she wants a to see certain cities with labels turned on and some with labels turned off. I just thought I’d mention, you can always create a two column spreadsheet of cities and states for manually placing city points on the map. It’s definitely going old school for city listings, but it will let you tweak the placement and labeling just the way your boss likes it.

Between the Placenames column and the City Limits option, you should have plenty of ways to get lists of cities for your use within or outside of Map Business Online.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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Clearly Express Your Business Map Message

Your very first mapping experience probably happened through a childrens’ book.  The Sponge Bob Kids History Research Institute reports most children are exposed to the concept of ‘mapping’ by the age of two years. For children, maps are typically depicted as guides to where the secret treasure is located, perhaps for Aladdin or Captain Hook. But as an adult, maps become more visual aids than treasure maps.

Over the holiday break I noticed two map infographics circulating in my LinkedIn and Facebook feeds. (Hey, so I was working a little? It’s not like I was checking my LinkedIn at a New Year’s Eve party. I’m not that guy.)  One map showed the most common Internet searches by state.  Maine’s was Amy Schumer.  And the other map showed, again by state, the most likely cause of death on average compared with other states.  Maine’s was the Flu – which surprised me. Get your shots people.

Now I found both of these maps to be visually informative. I glanced at them briefly and I quickly understood what they were trying to communicate. This, to me, is a critical element of a successful map or business map. Maps do not need to be complicated, colorful, or multilayered to get the job done. In fact, the more complicated or busy your map becomes, the less that map may communicate. A lot depends on knowing your map audience. What is your map audience looking for?

As Ben Carson, the one-time GOP leading candidate for president recently found out, maps need to be proof read. Take time creating and publishing your maps.  Leave them for a while. Come back later and view the map with fresh eyes. Look for glaring inconsistencies, or simple mistakes. Ask a colleague to review your map.  Try to see your map from the perspective of your map users.

Ben’s map person would have done well to examine that odd-shaped New England section before releasing it to a world eager to poke holes in his boss’ reputation. I include this video link to show how maps can generate the wrong result if you are not careful. Do not fall into this trap. Maps, like any other document, are subject to human error.

So no matter what mapping tools you apply, be thoughtful and careful with your map creation. Your map is a visual aide, not the busy kitchen table catch-all of spatial ideas. Keep it clean and neat. It is often valuable to consider what not to include in your business map:

Base Map-Data – Does your map require base-map data?  Perhaps just state outlines will do the trick. Digital base-map data is without a doubt one of the coolest things our generation has loosed on the world, and you may have access to the most accurate and up-to-date data available. Just make sure that a base-map data layer adds value to your map’s intent. All business mapping software should let you adjust this feature.

Administrative Districts – What administrative district – zip code, state, county – layer makes the most sense for your map view? It’s not always zip codes, although zip code maps are most commonly created, in my experience. Perhaps your business analysis is more effectively communicated over counties?  This could be because counties are easier to visualize nationwide, or because population by county displays better than by zip code, or perhaps because county population data adds more value to your analysis than the zip code population. Think it through. It only takes a moment.

Map Extent – At what zoom level of detail should your map be presented? A zoom extent covering the whole contiguous USA map may feel like it defines your map project, but the details may be more pertinent by zip code, in which case four separate regional map views might display more effectively for your map audience. A map describing the density of hospitals across the USA works at a USA wide level, while a demographic population map classifying all the Methodist Churches by congregation size might work better regionally.

Label Definition – Your map may or may not include state labels, zip code labels or imported data labels. Make sure they are required before turning them on.  If your map is displaying numeric values by zip code or county, displaying numeric zip code labels may create an incomprehensible map for your viewers. Too many numbers. Often a business map can be set to display a pop-up label upon mouse hover or click. Experiment with the different label options in your mapping software – large or small text sizes, various text-box color backgrounds, and text formatting options. Do you really need state labels to display?  Perhaps your map audience already knows the state names, for the most part? I know I do ( I know – Map Geek!) In general, keep the map simple.

Boundary Definition – Most business mapping software will allow adjustments to boundary lines. View your map carefully and choose appropriate line thicknesses and colors. Try different options to see what works best for your map. You may find in your industry, with your particular type of analysis, certain colors are expected or display data in away that rings truer with your map viewers.

Point Color Coding – Like boundaries, put some thought into how you color code points that you’ve imported. For instance, if I show a 7,000 location point hospital map, I typically make my points small and dark so the density of facilities by city is obvious. Should I label each point? Why would I do that? Only do it if you have to. Perhaps turning on just a few key regional point labels better communicates your map’s point.

My Busy Map
A cluttered map.

Most of the maps we make in our business work are not going viral like the Ben Carson map. But many of our maps are critical to our business processes. Think about your map presentation. As a business manager, you are always communicating with higher-ups, peers, or associates who work for you. Each of those audiences is looking for different map messages.

Management wants to see dollars, risks, and operational efficiencies – the high level business view. Avoid too many details. Steer clear from decimal points, extra map layers, and random data that invites criticism.

Your peers may be watching work flows carefully. Some peers will be looking to poke holes in your presentation (you know who they are.) Don’t give them easy errors to attack you with. It’s distracting for everyone and defeats the business purpose of your mapping efforts.

The people who work for you are looking for clear direction and leadership. Avoid mixed messages and map clutter. Turn off superfluous layers. Use multiple maps where operational issues pile up. Maps can be great tools for sharing progress associated with company goals and objectives.

Think it through, proof read your maps keep it simple and maybe you’ll be president someday.

Find out why over 25,000 business users log into MapBusinessOnline.com

Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd

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