Visible for all Community Needs Assessment users, “Benchmarks” compare data from small areas, such as counties, ZIP codes, and custom service areas, to aggregated state and nation-wide data. This comparison provides valuable context and helps users easily gauge categories in which their service areas exceed or fall below state and national averages. Creating reports consisting solely of benchmarked data is one of the many features of our Premium SparkMap Subscription.

Community Needs Assessment

SparkMap’s Community Needs Assessment is a robust report-building tool. Users select their service area and indicators of interest, and the Community Needs Assessment creates a downloadable report featuring written explanations and data visualizations. The Community Needs Assessment is free to the public, but additional features, including multi-county assessments, can be accessed with a SparkMap Subscription.

Data Builder

Available to Pro and Premium SparkMap Subscribers, the data builder is a Map Room tool allowing users to create their own data layers. For more information, check out our tutorial, How to Use the Data Builder.


In the Community Needs Assessment, an indicator provides an indication of the status, levels, or values of a certain data category. Examples of SparkMap indicators include “Total Population” and “Commuter Travel Patterns.” View our complete indicator list.

Indicator Breakouts

Several Community Needs Assessment indicators include supplemental subcategories, referred to as “indicator breakouts.” For example, when users select the indicator, Total Population, their report will also include the following indicator breakouts: Total Population by Gender, Total Population by Age, Total Population by Race, and Total Population by Ethnicity. To learn more, check out our complete indicator breakout list.

Map Layer

Found in the Map Room, map layers are SparkMap’s interactive spatial representations of secondary data. Learn how to add layers in the Map Room here.

Map Room

SparkMap’s Map Room grants users access to over 28,000 interactive map layers and an extensive suite of tools. The Map Room is free to the public. Data upload capabilities can be accessed through a paid SparkMap Subscription.

Query Data

Query Data is one of the many tools available in the Map Room. Data queries allow users to locate points on map layers that meet, exceed, or fall below user-indicated criteria. It then allows users to download their queried data as a .csv file. To learn more, check out our tutorial, How to Use the Query Data Tool.

Small Area Estimation

Small area estimation is a SparkMap-specific methodology, which we use to produce accurate and reliable estimations for ZIP code, town, tract, and custom area data. Note that SparkMap never provides small area estimates for locations lacking sufficient data. To learn more about our methodology, check out this downloadable Small Area Estimation page.

SparkMap Subscription

Free and paid SparkMap Subscriptions grant you the ability to save your completed Community Needs Assessments and Maps to your SparkMap profile for later use. Intro, Pro, and Premium Subscribers gain access to advanced features in the Community Needs Assessment and Map Room. Learn more about our subscription levels on the Pricing page.