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 helps you select data for adjacent geographic areas on the map. The data selection tool is useful when you want to examine a community or region with regards to 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


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.

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