How to Use the Assessment to Analyze ZIP Code Data

The SparkMap Assessment has ZIP Code level data available for view and download, included with a Premium yearly subscription. With this feature, you can access ZIP Code data for nearly 100 indicators in health, economics, environment, education, and demographics.

★ Useful for Premium yearly subscribers

This tutorial will help you learn how to view or download ZIP Code data within the Assessment. To review how to create an Assessment, visit How to Create a Community Assessment.

Follow the steps below to learn how to:

  • Select an Area to Assess at the ZIP Code level
  • Select Indicators
  • Generate the Assessment and Show ZIP Code Data
  • Download ZIP Code Data
  • Learn More About ZIP Codes, ZCTAs, and Calculations

Select an Area to Assess

Within the Assessment, there are 3 different ways to select locations that will show ZIP Code level data: County List tool, Draw My Area tool, or Pick From Map tool. Note: ZIP Code data will populate for all ZIP Codes within your selected location. As a result, the ZIP Code list for a county or other large area may take more time to render and to download.

County List: In Step 1 of the Assessment, select the state and then county (or counties) you are assessing.

Draw My Area: In Step 1, click Draw My Area. When prompted, type in a location or zoom in to a location using the map. Follow the instructions above the map to draw an area to assess.

Pick from Map: In Step 1, click Pick From Map. Follow the instruction above the map to generate an assessment area. Note: ZIP Code level data is only available when picking by County, City and Town, or ZIP Code.

Select Indicators

Next, in Step 2, select the indicators you are interested in evaluating at the ZIP Code level. Any of our indicators that are available at the ZCTA or census tract levels are included in the ZIP code report. This includes indicators on demographic data, commuter patterns, income, poverty, housing, food access, and more.

To see our indicator list and what geographies are available, visit the SparkMap Report Data List page and click on ‘Source Geography’ to sort (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Generate the Assessment, Show ZIP Code Data

Click at the bottom of the Indicators screen to generate your Assessment. Once your Assessment has loaded, a new option (“Show ZIP Code data”) will appear in the Report Options menu. Click Show ZIP Code data to see ZIP Code breakouts for the relevant indicators (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Download ZIP Code data

To download the Assessment with all of the statements, tables, and data visualizations, click “Download As” and select PDF or Microsoft Word. To use the data offline or in another application, click “Download As” and select Excel Table (Figure 3). 

Figure 3

Access More Information About ZIP Codes

You are absolutely right. As a geographic data community, we often use the term “ZIP Code” when referring to either a ZIP Code or a ZCTA boundary.

Technically, a ZIP Code is a non-spatial designation by the United States Postal Service, created as a way to group mailing addresses. ZIP Codes are not defined geographic boundaries and update frequently, based on factors such as population shifts and mail volume changes.

Because of the popularity of understanding neighborhoods and regions using the familiar language of ZIP Codes, the Census Bureau created ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) in the year 2000 as a geographic area corresponding to a ZIP Code. ZCTAs only change every 10 years, and are a standard in neighborhood-level geography.

SparkMap uses ZCTA boundaries, where appropriate, to align with the Census Bureau’s geographic standard.

For more information about the difference between ZIP Codes and ZCTAs, check out guidance on ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) from the Census Bureau and All about ZIP Codes from the Missouri Census Data Center.

If you need any additional assistance feel free to chat or email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu

How to Save and Access Assessment Locations

SparkMap users frequently create multiple Assessments for the same – or similar – geographic areas. Learn how to quickly save and access your Community Assessment Locations to help streamline your reporting.

★ Useful for all logged in users

This tutorial will show you how to select, save and access Community Assessment Locations. You will learn how to: 

  • Select an Assessment Location
  • Save an Assessment Location
  • Access and edit your saved Location from the Assessment
  • Access and delete your saved Assessment Location from your Dashboard

Select an Assessment Location

First, login to SparkMap and navigate to the Community Assessment. Under Location, you can choose the desired area either at the County (Figure 1) or State level (Figure 2) and select it from the list below. If you are interested in a particular County (Figure 1), you need to select the State and the list of counties will populate.

Figure 1.
Figure 2.

Note: The demonstration is for one County, but you can select more than one, as well as custom and small areas, with an appropriate subscription.

Once your location is selected, you will see the SAVE LOCATION button become available (Figure 3).

save location example media
Figure 3.

Save an Assessment Location

Once you’ve selected the county, counties, or custom area you’d like to save, click the SAVE LOCATION button. In the popup that appears, set a Location Name and Description and click SAVE (Figure 4).

Figure 4.

This will save your location within the Assessment and within your Dashboard.

Access and edit your saved Location from the Assessment

Once you have saved at least one Location, the next time you access the Assessment, you’ll see a MY LOCATIONS button which, when clicked, will show you a list of your saved Locations (Figure 5).

Figure 5.

To use a Location in an Assessment, select that Location from the My Locations list and move to the Data Indicators step of the Assessment.

To edit a Location, select that Location from the list and click Edit Location (Figure 6)

Figure 6.

This will bring up the Edit Location screen (Figure 7). You can rename your Location, change the description or remove it completely.

Figure 7.

Access and delete your saved Assessment Location from your Dashboard

*Only available to Pro and Premium subscribers

You can also access or delete Locations from your dashboard. Once on your dashboard, click on My Data and Locations (Figure 8)

Figure 8.

You will see your saved Locations available (Figure 9). To access your Assessment, click VIEW. To remove your location, click DELETE.

Figure 9.

If you need any additional assistance feel free to email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu

How to Find Data Source Information

Throughout the SparkMap site, data source information is generally available through the button. 

★ Useful for all users

In the Map Room, there are two ways you could find this button and by clicking it, learn about the release date, release cycle, data type, data geographic unit, and data source of a data layer.

While you are searching data in the data library, move your pointer over any data layer you are interested in and the information icon will be highlighted. Click and read.

If a data layer is already added to the Map Room, go to the Map Layers panel to the right side of the map and find the layer. Click the at the right corner of the layer to expand and you can’t miss the  button.

In a SparkMap Assessment, you can learn about data attributes, data on map, additional data groupings, and data source briefly by clicking the button.

Go to “2. Data Indicators” and expand the category of your interest. Hover the pointer on the data indicator you want to know more about.

For more details about an indicator, including data background, methodology, and data limitations, go to “3. Report” to obtain.

To successfully proceed to Step 3 and produce a report, you need to first select location and indicators in Step 1 & 2.

Once you are in the report, click the button at lower right to expand the list of indicators you selected. Click the indicator you want to know more about (as below). You will directly jump to that section of the report.

Now you are in the section you want to know more about. Under the first table, find the footnote “Data Source” and “Show more details”.

Click “Show more details” to open a very thorough indicator factsheet (as below). Click any blue hyperlinks for more information.

If you need any additional assistance feel free to email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu

How to Make a Map

Maps are great for telling your story. Use this guide to help you make a stunning map with SparkMap! The Map Room is the place to interact with thousands of mapped data layers. Search and load information from a broad library of data sets, explore the maps, and share with others.

★ Useful for all users

To learn how to create a map, follow the video tutorial above, or the walkthrough below.


Walkthrough:

From the homepage, hover over “products” and click on “Map Room” to begin creating your map.

Click to open up the search data window and type in a keyword (Figure 1). If you need more information about a data layer click the “i” button on the right. Select the data you would like to add by clicking the associated checkbox. Then select in the bottom right hand corner.

Suggest Keywords: Food, Poverty, Hospital, Housing, School, Family

Figure 1

Another way to explore all the data is by clicking the “browse by Topic” or “Browse by Source” buttons.

Explore your options and click the check box next to one or more indicators you would like to map, then click in the bottom right corner (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Zoom into your community using the plus or minus options on the left, or by entering a location in the search bar on the right (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Display data at various geographic levels (if the data provides this) by selecting from the data geography dropdown (Figure 4).

Figure 4

One way to easily display multiple data layers on a map is by sliding the transparency on one layer too 100% (fully transparent) and clicking the “Label” checkbox. This will show that data layer’s information as text instead of a colored polygon (Figure 5).

Figure 5

Add reference layers (like highways and place boundaries) to your map by selecting “All Layers” on the top right corner of the legend – click the “Map” checkbox on any desired reference layers to show them (Figure 6).

Figure 6

Share your map on social media or email by copying the link provided – this will share a dynamic map that other can manipulate or add to. Export your work into an image file or PDF document to add to a grant or PowerPoint presentation (Figure 7).

Figure 7

If you have anymore questions feel free to chat us or email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu.

Community Assessment Walkthrough

SparkMap uses location-specific data to create maps, assessments, and reports that are used by businesses, nonprofits, governments, health, researchers, and communities to inform and transform their work.

Access 80 core indicators exploring topics in health, economics, environment, education, and demographics. With a subscription, you’ll have access to over 250 indicators – learn more.

★ Useful for all users

View a full walkthrough from scratch

This tutorial will help you master how to create an interactive report for your community. View the video above or follow the tutorial below to learn how to:

  • Select Custom Area – by State and by County
  • Select Indicators
  • View Indicator Information (Data Attributes, Map, Data Source, etc.)
  • Generate an Assessment
  • View Additional Indicators Details (Background and Methodology)
  • Explore Assessment
  • Download Assessment(s) 
  • Check Out Additional Features

Select Custom Area

Under Location, you can choose the desired area either at the County (Figure 1) or State level (Figure 2) and select it from the list below. If you are interested in a particular County (Figure 1), first select the State and the list of counties will populate. Next, click on the bottom right to proceed. 

Figure 1.
Figure 2.

Note: The demonstration is for one County, but you can select more than one with a subscription. Learn more here.

Select Indicators

In Step 2 of the Assessment, you can see all available indicators curated by topic areas. For example, under Demographics (Figure 3) we have “Change in Total Population”, “Population Age 65+”, etc. You can select all Indicators at the top, select an entire category by clicking the checkbox next to the topic area name, or select individual Indicators you are most interested in (Figure 4).

Figure 3.
Figure 4.

View Indicator Information

You can learn more about an indicator data source by clicking on the “i” icon next to the indicator (Figure 5). For example, Data Attributes, Quick View of the Map, Link to Original Data Source, etc.

Figure 5.

Generate an Assessment

Click at the bottom of the Indicators screen to generate an Assessment. Here you can explore the indicators you have selected in context of the location you have selected. Figure 6 shows the first selected indicator “Total Population” and a short paragraph within the context of the selected geography. The same information is reported in a data table. For example, the report location is York County Maine which is compared to the State of Maine and the rest of the United States (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Indicator Description and Table

View Additional Indicator Details

To access the indicator’s background information and methodology click “Show more details” under the data table. Additionally, to explore the indicator within the Map room, you can click “View larger map” (Figure 8).

Explore the Assessment

Scroll down to see the selected indicators within the Assessment. If you want to jump through the indicators easily, click the hamburger menu at the bottom of the page to direct you to a chosen topic or indicator. For example, Figure 9 shows “Children Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch,” – when data is available, indicators will include visualizations such as dials, bar graphs or trends over time. 

Figure 9 – Menu and Additional Visualizations

Download Assessment(s)

You can download the Assessment as a PDF (Microsoft Word and Excel downloads available with a Premium subscription) and will look similar to the Assessment (Figure 10). You can also refine the Assessment with the options available under the “Report Options” dropdown menu. In the example shown in Figure 11, unchecking “Show state data” will hide data for the state of Maine. You can also uncheck population groups and/or map visibility. Finally, you can download “Quick facts” for a one- to two-pager containing a series of data tables for the indicators and “Source and Methodology” to cite the indicator sources. 

Figure 10 – Download as a PDF
Figure 11 – Report Options

Check Out Additional Features

Finally, you can share the report on social media or email and you can print it by clicking the bottom as shown on Figure 12.

Figure 12 – Share or Print

If you need any additional assistance feel free to chat or email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu

How to Upload Your Data

Integrate your own location-based data in CSV, KML/KMZ, or shapefile formats into the Map Room. You can then add additional layers for analysis alongside your personal data.

★ Useful for Pro and Premium Subscribers

Full walkthrough video

This tutorial is for you to master the data upload tool included with the SparkMap subscription. View our video walkthrough above, or follow the steps below to learn how to:

  • Select Data for Upload (CSV, KML, KMZ, ESRI Shapefile)
  • Upload Data
  • View Data on the Map
  • Customize Data
  • Compare Data
  • Save, Share or Export

Select Data for Upload

Drop or click to select a file from your device (Figure 1). To populate your data in the map the file can be CSV, KML, KMZ, or compressed ESRI Shapefile. 

Upload Data

Once the data is analyzed you can choose the geography type to map the data locations. Figure 2 shows how to geocode by matching a CSV file’s address location columns to the Street Address, City, State, and Zip Code in SparkMap. If you are uploading data with a global address, also select the name of the country column. Click Submit. 

Figure 2 – Geocode Data

View Data on the Map

This sample file contains a list of Real Estate transactions in the Sacramento area reported over a five-day period. Clicking on a point in the map allows us to see more information. In Figure 3 you can see the original columns on the left (i.e. Street, City, Zip, etc.) with the recorded data for the specific point on the map. 

Figure 3 – Point Information

Customize Data

Using the “Data Editor” tool on the right side of the Map Room, you can change the layer’s characteristics (Figure 4). Clicking on “Basic Layer Info” allows edits to the layer’s name, data category, and description of the data layer.

Figure 4 – Data Editor

You can also change the map symbols and the color to fit your needs under “Map Symbols,” and change what attributes to show and rename them under “Data Display” (Figure 5). Finally, you can add or edit features (e.g., points, lines or polygons) and you can manage the layer by downloading or deleting it (Figure 6).

Figure 5 – Symbol and Display
Figure 6 – Add, Edit, Delete

Compare Data 

You can add additional data to the map to compare by clicking the Add Data button and following the prompts to add additional data. For example, “Median Household Income” surrounding the “Real Estate” listings (Figure 7).

Figure 7 – Add Data

Save, Share, or Export

the file to your account, it in social media, by email , or it as an image or PDF file.

If you need any additional assistance feel free to email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu

How to Use the Mask Tool

Learn how to highlight or mask specific geographies that can then be shared, or put into a presentation.

★ Useful for all users

Full Video Walkthrough

This tutorial will help display data in specified regions while masking others. Similar to the Draw Graphics tool, the Mask Tool is also useful in drawing the audience’s attention to certain areas, but does a better job in highlighting a large portion of the map. In this tutorial, we will review how to:

  • Access the Mask Tool
  • Mask an Area on a Map
  • Make Adjustments
  • Share/Export and Exit the tool

Preparation 

Before using the Mask Data tool to win your audience’s attention, you need to have three things ready – a relevant data layer added to the map room, the data geographic level (county, tract, ZCTA, etc.) changed to meet your need (if various options exist), and your location placed in the middle of the map view area. Check the short video below if you missed any of the three steps.

Access the Mask Tool

The Mask Tool is accessible to you once a data layer is added to the Map Room. You can access it by clicking the button at the top left or the “Tools” bar on the bottom right of the legend. In either way, click on under Map Tools in the Tools panel.

Mask an Area on a Map

Now that you are in the Mask Tool panel, you should first select in the Mask Layer Geography list. You might want the mask layer geography consistent with the data geographic level you set earlier. After this step, you could click on the map to unmask the areas you want to display.

Make Adjustments

If you made a mistake while determining which areas to unmask on the map, you could easily correct it in the Mask Tool panel. To remove a selection, simply uncheck the box from the list of “Area of Interest”.

For better display, you might also want to change the contrast between your selection and the background. Drag the transparency slider in the Mask Tool panel to where you see fit.

Share/Export & Exit the Tool

After all the selection and adjustment, you could share or export the map the way it is by clicking at the top right. When you are done, always remember to check to remove the mask layer before you cross out the Mask Tool panel.

If you need any additional assistance feel free to email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu

How to Use 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.

★ Useful for Intro, Pro, and Premium Subscribers

This tutorial will help you learn how to draw auxiliary graphics, such as point, arrow, or circle, on a map. You will find such graphics helpful in map display to draw your audience’s attention to certain areas. We will review how to:

  • Prepare to Draw Graphics
  • Access the Draw Graphics Tool
  • Draw Graphics on a Map
  • Edit and Delete Graphics

Prepare to Draw Graphics

Before you use the Draw Graphics tool to add auxiliary shapes to your map, make sure you already added a data layer and had the location (around which you are going to tell the story) in your map view area. Check the tutorial of How to Make a Map if you have any questions on these steps.

Access the Draw Graphics Tool

You have two ways to access the Draw Graphics tool. You can access it by clicking the button at the top left or the “Tools” bar on the bottom right of the legend. In either way, you then click on under Map Tools in the Tools panel.

Draw Graphics on a Map

Now that you are in the Draw Graphics panel, you will see the 2*5 table containing all the graphic options you can choose from. Click on any one of them and check the tips underneath the table or afloat on the map following your mouse cursor before you draw.

A brief summary of the commonality and differences of the ten options are as follows: Point is made by simply clicking; Polygon and Polyline are drawn by point-and-click; all the others except Circle with Radius are drawn by drag-and-drop. 

You should specifically notice the direction of your drawing with Line Segment or Arrow. If you want to point to a specific area on the map, draw towards the area that you would like to highlight.

To add a location radius, you will first need to enter the number of miles that you would like the radius to draw. Then click on the map where you would like the center of the radial circle to display.

Edit and Delete Graphics

To change the color of the graphic to be drawn, click the button and select a color from the color ramp.

To remove the last graphic you have put on the map, select . You can also discard all drawings by selecting at the bottom of the panel.


If you need any additional assistance feel free to email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu

How to Use 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.

★ Useful for all users

Full Walkthrough Video

This tutorial is for you to select data for a few adjacent geographic areas on the map. It’s useful when you want to examine a community or a region around a certain indicator. For example: the rate of population with private insurance in each census tract within 1 mile from the center of Des Moines, IA. Let’s review how to:

  • Access the Select Data Tool
  • Select Data from the Map
  • View the result

Preparation 

Before applying the Select Data tool to answering your research question, you need to have three things ready – a relevant data layer added to the map room, the data geographic level (county, tract, ZCTA, etc.) changed to meet your need (if various options exist), and the community to select data from placed in the middle of the map view area. Check the short video below if you missed any of the three steps.

Access the Select Data Tool

The Select Data Tool is accessible to you once a data layer is added to the Map Room. You can access it by clicking the button at the top left or the “Tools” bar on the bottom right of the legend. In either way, click on under Data Tools in the Tools panel.

Select Data from the Map

There are four shapes you could draw to select data on a map. Rectangle and Lasso are drawn by drag-and-drop. Press the “Select by Rectangle” or “Select by Lasso” button and follow the tips in the panel or afloat on the map that follow your mouse cursor to draw. All the areas on the geographic level you designated that are touched by the shape you draw will be selected.

Polygon and radius are drawn by point-and-click. If you choose to select by polygon, consider drawing one that touches all the geographic areas of your interest. You simply need to point the vertices and the line segments will be automatically formed. When you are finished, double click on the last point to end the drawing. 

If you want to select by radius, you are drawing a circle that touches all the geographic areas of your interest. You need to enter a radius in the box in the panel first, then target the center of the circle on the map.

View the Result

You can view the attributes of your selection on the map by hovering the mouse cursor over each selected area. You could also click on “Show Attributes” to view in tabular form or download data for offline use.

If you need any additional assistance chat with us or email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu

How to Use 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 offline use.

★ Useful for all users

Full Walkthrough Video

This tutorial is for you to find the locations or communities that meet certain criteria, for example, the assisted housing properties around Philadelphia, PA area that have an average household rent contribution greater than 600. B viewing the video above, or following along with the walkthrough below, you will learn how to: 

  • Access the Query Tool
  • Perform the Query
  • View the Results

Preparation 

Before you use the Query Tool to target the communities that meet your criteria, you need to have two things prepared. First, you need to add to the map room a data layer, based on which your query will be run. You also need to specify an area on the map. Only the features within the current map view area (not the location entered in the location bar) that meet the criteria will be found. 

Access the Query Tool

The Query Data Tool is accessible to you once a data layer is added to the Map Room. You have two ways to access this tool – to click the button at the top left or the “Tools” bar on the bottom right of the legend. In either way, you then click on under Data Tools.

Perform the Query

Now that you are in the Query Data panel, you can take three steps to do a query – select an attribute, set a value, and press the “Run Query” button. Take notice of the tips at the bottom of the Query Data panel when you set the value.

View the Result

You can view the result on a map by hovering the mouse cursor over each highlighted red dot for metadata. If a quick glance is not enough, you can also try a tabular view by clicking on “Show Attributes” at the bottom of the Query Data panel. You can either view it online or download it to use offline.

Query Completed

To start over another query, click on “Clear Selection”. To add additional data, click on the “Map Layers” bar.

If you need any additional assistance feel free to email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu