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GeoCommons

February 6, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I have been tinkering with GeoCommons Finder and Maker of late.  Finder is a data repository where users upload spatial data (either csv, shapefile or kml) and others can easily view and download the same data.  If a user desires to map the data they can use Maker to create single variate or multivariate maps.

In the past when I have wanted to visualize data on the fly I either had to load up my GIS and create a base map, import the data and then make it pretty.  This process (especially if a base map was not present) could take quite a bit of time.  Google Maps was available to map small datasets.  If I took the time I could create a mashup and put it on a hosted site.  However, this can take a little bit of time, especially when I did not had a website to use for hosting.

Geocommons allows neophyte and experienced users a location to find data, or upload data and then quickly create a pleasing cartographic map.  Of course if the data is not available you will have to create or find the data.  Once found the data will probably need to be cleaned; it seems most datasets need a little cleaning.  Obviously if you are upload a shapefile or KML the data has spatial element, however if you are uploading a csv file (such as a list of businesses) you will have to geocode the list to obtain the latitude and longitude of each location.  Finder has some great tutorials on their site that show users how to use services such as Batch Geocoder to find the geographic locations of your data.

For my project I uploaded and mapped out the US Government’s fiscal year 2009 per diem rates.  The per diem rates show how much the government will pay its employees for lodging and meals while they are traveling the country on business.  For those locations that do not have any data the rate is $70 for lodging and $39 for meals and incidental, per day.

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