SparkMap is an online mapping and reporting platform powered by the Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES) at the University of Missouri. SparkMap provides two free tools – a Map Room and a community health needs assessment (CHNA) Report. SparkMap also provides subscription services. Subscribers receive access to additional report indicators, advanced mapping features, advanced query functions, custom geography tools, and data upload/integration.

Data are updated as often as they become available. For example, the American Community Survey (ACS) releases five-year estimates every year, so we update ACS indicators once per year. Unemployment indicators are published monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so we update unemployment monthly. Every indicator has a corresponding release cycle and we try to ensure that all Report indicators are the most recent available. If you find an indicator that you believe is out of date, please contact us at

Data are only as reliable as the source! SparkMap acquires and analyzes data from more than 90 secondary sources. Secondary sources are typically very reliable and are supported by unbiased government agencies. For example, a large portion of our data comes to us from the United States Census. Other sources include agencies like the United States Department of Agriculture, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Survey, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United States Geological Survey.

We recommend you cite the original source. SparkMap notes the original source of each indicator and map layer on the site. In the map room, click the “Data Info” button to access data background information and a link to the original source. In the report, look under the primary indicator’s data table to find a name, date, and source information. Once you’ve cited the original source, you can note the date and URL from SparkMap –

“Courtesy: SparkMap, {}, date_retrieved”


{map or report title}. SparkMap (2020). Date Retrieved, Website URL

SparkMap has a “Data News” section that provides data updates, alerts about new data, data corrections and more. Click here to check out the Data News.

SparkMap is used by a variety of professionals. Most common uses include: community health needs assessments (CHNAs) for public health departments, health-focused nonprofit organizations, hospital systems, and health centers. SparkMap is also used by community and economic development professionals, faculty and students, real estate brokers, farmers, professional associations, food banks, and so many more. Check out our use cases to learn more.

On the internet, of course! SparkMap is a service of the Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES) at the University of Missouri. CARES is part of the University of Missouri Extension service and has offices located on campus in Columbia, Missouri. No matter where you live, though, we are happy to meet you remotely – we will even say hi to your dog or your in-laws!

The team at SparkMap are constantly working to ensure you have access to the most recent data through our mapping and reporting tools. Data saved in interactive reports are automatically updated to the most recent time period available when an update occurs. To ensure you have access to your original data, we recommend saving a copy of your report in PDF format. To see a list of dataset updates and revisions, check out the Data News page.

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Uploading your Data
Integrate your own data in CSV, KML/KMZ, or shapefile formats into the Map Room. You can then load additional layers to do analysis with your personal data.
Making a Map
Maps are great for telling your story. Check out these guides to help you make a stunning map with SparkMap! The Map Room is a place to interact with thousands of mapped data sets. Search and load information from a broad library of data sets, explore the maps, and share with others.
Using the Mask Tool
Learn how to highlight or mask specific geographies that can then be shared, or put into a presentation.
Using the Draw Graphics Tool
Add points, radius, line segments and other various graphics directly onto your map. Change the colors and make edits to highlight specific areas you want to show others.
Using the Select Data Tool
Select an area on your map by rectangle, polygon, lasso or radius. Not only will you see the areas highlighted on the map but you can download the tabular data from the area you've selected.
Using the Query Tool
Query within specific data layers to find exactly what you're looking for. You can also view the query criteria in tabular format to download for outside use.
Creating a Report
Want to know how to make a sparkling shiny report with SparkMap? Check out these resources.