Create: an intensity map with custom boundaries

This tutorial uses the New look in Fusion Tables.
The same features are offered in Classic, too.

The VisualizeIntensity map function in Classic offers a simple way to visualize data at a country level for a global view and continent view. But what if you'd like an intensity map with other boundaries?  Or more control over the colors? or info windows?

This tutorial shows you an example of creating a highly-customizable intensity map with any boundaries. 

Boundaries can be found in our Resource data section, in Google Tables search, or from official sources and imported to Fusion Tables. (See importing KML and shape files.) Here we step through combining boundaries for the United States 110th Congressional Districts with U. S. Census data to make a custom intensity map. 

For example, this map is colored to display the prevalence of using natural gas to heat the home:

 
Data sets for this tutorial:

In this tutorial

One table has interesting statistics about the 110th Congressional Districts, and another table has their geographic boundaries for showing them on a map. You'll start by combining the two public tables into a new, merged table you own. Then select the Map visualization, and customize your map with a color display based on the data. Finally, choose how to share your map.
 
Tutorial contents:

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Combine data and boundary tables

In this section, you'll get familiar with the data in these two public tables, and we'll show you how to merge them into one useful map graphic. 

  1. Open the map of US Congressional District Boundaries, 110th Congress.
  2. Click any district shape to find out which one it is. Congressional districts can change every 10 years as a result of the census, and they aren't always built in to mapping tools. 

  3. Open Home Heating statistics by Congressional District, 2008.
  4. Scroll through the columns and rows to see what the data looks like. For our example, we're going to look at "% Heated Principally With Gas."
  5. Click "Heat source" tab to see the statistics as a pie chart for each district. A quick scroll shows strong differences between Alabama and California, for instance.

Both of these tables are defined as exportable and public, so you can find them by searching in Fusion Tables public data

Combine the two tables into a new table

Now that you've got the two tables available, you can merge them into one single table:

  1. Open the Home Heating statistics table if it isn't open already.
  2. Click FileMerge. (If inactive, sign in first.)
  3. Copy the URL of the Congressional boundaries table.
  4. Paste it in the "Or paste a web address here" box and click Next.
  5. Specify the column that both tables have in common:
    1. On the left, select "Two-digit District"
    2. On the right, "id" is already selected.
  6. Click Next, then Merge.

Take a moment to look at your new table.

  • The column headers from different source tables have different background colors.
  • Click the table name to edit it to something simpler (e.g. "Heating statistics by congressional district, 2008")
  • Both sources are attributed in the table header.
  • Under File > About this table, the lineage of the data in the merged table is available in greater detail.

The new combined table is not a copy: if the underlying data is changed, the merged table shows the changes too. Thus if the data owner finds an error and corrects the original data in Fusion Tables, the correction propagates.

Customize the map display

Now use some data to determine the display color for each district.
  1. Click the  Map of shape tab.
  2. Click Tools > Change map, then click the Change feature styles button.
  3. Within the Map styles dialog:
    1. Under Polygon, click Fill color.
    2. Click Buckets on the Polygon background colors panel.
    3. Select the number of buckets from the pull-down menu. For our example, choose 4.
    4. Pick the column with the data to map. For our example, choose to "% Heated Principally With Gas."
      • Optional: Click any color chip and select a new color from the color picker.
    5. Click Save.
  4. Look at your map!

More customization ideas:
  • Click a map polygon to see the default info window. You can customize map info windows.
  • Use summaries to find out more about your data:
    1. Open a Summary tab.
    2. Choose a column to summarize by.
    3. Choose a column to get more details about and check the "average," "minimum" and "maximum" check boxes.
    4. Click Save.
  • Set filters to narrow your data.

Share and publish the map

You can only share tables that are public or unlisted, so you need to adjust the visibility settings on your new table. Once you've done that, you can embed the map you've created in a website or send a link around. Learn about options for publishing data in the new look tutorials. 

Please contact us with your feedback on this tutorial.