Geographer approach to data visualization: Geocommons

I think we sometimes take maps for granted. Think of all the very specific elements that make maps work; points representing cities, imaginary lines separating countries, latitude, longitude, and countless others. At some point these did not exist. These visualizations have been in our lives long before the existence of computers.

Today, with the combination of computing power and GIS, geographers are doing some impressive things. The other nice thing, is that new tools have made geography more accessible to researchers than ever. Today’s example application is Geocommons.

From the about page:

GeoCommons is the public community of GeoIQ users who are building an open repository of data and maps for the world. The GeoIQ platform includes a large number of features that empower you to easily access, visualize and analyze your data. We’ve highlighted just a few of these features below. You can watch any of our videos to learn more, or just sign up for free to get started building your own maps.

If you have data that involves an element of place, I would suggest giving it a try.  Although, if you do, I would suggest using a fast browser like Chrome.  These types of graphically intensive web applications benefit greatly.

One more thing to keep in mind, free mapping on Geocommons requires data sharing.  Something you’ll notice on a lot of free viz services.  This is one of the big motivators to jump to a pay service.

Here is an example, The Distance to the Subway at Harvard, to see it full size on Geocommons, click here.