Saturday, September 03, 2011

Using ArcGIS, Fusion tables for Census story

I was recently able to attend to workshops sponsored by Investigative Reporters & Editors at the University of Missouri ... one on computer assisted reporting (really Excel and Access training) and one on mapping (using ArcGIS.) Both courses were great, but I was quite brain dead after seven solid days of training.

The the first fruits of that labor was published Saturday in the Austin American-Statesman and Statesman.com in a story about same sex households in Texas by Juan Castillo. In addition to helping Juan with deciphering and ranking the U.S. Census data, I created two online maps showing the change of same sex households in Texas counties and Central Texas communities.

Other than the program ArcGIS, I used several online tools to make the maps. I used IRE's census.ire.org project to download the data and shape files I needed. If you know what you are looking for, it's much easier than the Census Bureau's American Factfinder2. After doing some clipping and joining in ArcGIS, I created new shapefiles, which I then pushed to Google Fusion Tables using and awesome tool by Josh Livni called Shape to Fusion (or Shape Escape).

The display design on statesman.com was lifted from my colleague Gerald Fullam from the Dayton Daily News, who modified code originally by the Chicago Tribune.

I'd done work with Fusion Tables before but this was a little more complicated because I had to snip the "places" shapefiles to include just communities in our five-county MSA, a task that ArcGIS makes much easier than trying to go through a massive file in Excel. It was cool.

So, I get a byline of sorts on statesman.com and justify my existence and the training my paper paid for me to attend (thank you!)

(After looking at my colleague's print graphics, I wish I had done same sex household percentages for tracts in our 5-county MSA, and if I can get some other stuff out of the way this weekend or Tuesday, I might try to whip that up. )


THE LINKS AND EXAMPLES



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