2010 Plus Help

Help document for the 2010 Plus Mapping Project

The purpose of this help file is to give you a brief walk-through on all of the functions of the 2010 Plus mapping system so that you can access, display, and interpret the data from the 2006-2008 American Community Survey and the 2000 Census. By using our mapping system you will be able to see how demographic data such as total population and race vary across two different levels of geography: the County and Metropolitan Statistical Area (henceforth referred to as the MSA). In order to use our mapping system you need to know three things: How to navigate and manipulate the map, how to use widgets, and learn about the function of each menu. This help file will walk you through all of these functions.

Overview of the Web Mapping Application

When you first begin using the mapping system, you will automatically be brought to The Web Mapping Application (WMA) page shown above. The WMA has three important parts: 1) The map window, 2) Menus, and 3) Widgets.

Map window - This is the main display area where all the data that you want to present is displayed. You will notice how there are varying shades of color for each unit on the map. These let you know how the information you are interested in varies across geographic space. Remember, you can zoom in and out to analyze data at different levels of geography: The MSA and County.

Menus - The main command center where you can get all the tools you need to navigate the maps and display and analyze the information you are interested in.  There are four different menus: map, navigation, tools, and help. Each menu has its own set of tools. To get a full description for the tools in each of menus, click here.

Widgets - The way you display data in the Web Mapping Application page is with a tool called a Widget. With Widgets  you can display the level of geography you want data on (County,MSA) and  the specific data you want displayed, such as race or total population . Normally you will have to access widgets from one of the main menus, but once you open the menu the list of widgets you can access should be displayed in the upper right hand corner of the map window. Once you click on a widget, a link should pop up to give you more information on how to use each widget.

There are six widgets available for you to use. They are:

  • Map Contents: Allows you to choose the kinds of data you want to display as well as the level of geography (county, MSA) you want to display this data on.  
  • Locate (address geocoding): Allows you to find and get data on exact points on the map. The address function allows you to find a location on the map by searching with a specific street address.
  • Bookmark (zoom to each state): Allows you to automatically zoom in on a specific state. Also, you can save zoomed in on locations for future reference.
  • Overview Map: A small map of the country you are currently zoomed in on. Also displays a red rectangle around the area of the map you are zoomed in on.
  • Print Map: Allows you to print the map you created.
  • Draw: A tool that allows you to trace an area on the map that you want data on.  

If you would like some more in depth information on any of the widgets above, click here for a more detailed discussion.

Like in most of web-based widgets, the widgets used in our WMA has similar functions that can be minimized/maximized, hide and show etc.

Getting Started in the Web Mapping Application

  • Navigation

  • You can observe various levels of geographic space by using the four navigation tools we provide you with. They are:

    • Zoom in: Allows you to look in closer detail at smaller units of geographical space.
    • Zoom out: Allows you to observe a larger area of geographical space
    • Move map: Allows you to drag the map to the area of the country you are interested in
    • Full extent: Get a total, complete view of the United States as a whole
  • Choosing a Map

  • Once you select the area of the map you are interested in  with the navigation tools, you can choose the kind of data you want to present on the map by using the Map Contents widget.  The current version of our WMA allows you to access two data sets: 1)The 2006-2008 American Community Survey  (ACS 06-08) and 2) the 2000 Census. For either of these two data sets you can display information at two levels of geography: 1) the County level, which allows you to see how the data you are interested varies from county to county and 2) the MSA level. An MSA represents an area of space with a highly populated city at the center with smaller communities adjacent to it. Note that if you display data for MSAs only, certain areas of the map will not be represented since some areas of the country are not urbanized, and hence, not part of an MSA. However, data will be displayed for each area of the map at the county level.

    As noted above, in the mapping system you can display data at both the county and the metropolitan level. When you first open the WMA, however, total population data for the 06-08 ACS will automatically be displayed at the county level. In order to view data at just the MSA level, you will need to uncheck the “County Boundary” button and then click on the “MSA Boundary” button. Doing this will ensure that you view County and MSA level data separately.

    You are not, however, limited to just looking at just county or MSA level data separately. If you check both the MSA and County Boundary buttons, then you will be able to display county level data layered on top of MSA level data. In other words, county and MSA level data will be displayed at the same time. Doing this will allow you to get data on counties within MSAs.

    Before we move on, it may be helpful to give a quick recap of a few key points we just covered that are essential to using the web mapping system correctly. To review, you can get data at the:

    • County level by leaving the “County Boundary” button checked and the “MSA Boundary” button unchecked.
    • Metropolitan Statistical Area by leaving the “MSA Boundary” button checked and the “County Boundary” button unchecked
    • At both the County and MSA level by leaving both buttons checked. Doing this will allow you to display data for counties within metropolitan statistical areas.

    Once you decide which one of the two data sets you want to access, and which level of geography you want to analyze (the County, MSA, or both), you can expand  the kinds of data you can select by clicking on the expand () arrow to get each of the sub-categories measured by the ACS 06-08 or 2000 Census.  

     After you have selected a category of data, you can click on another expand arrow to see all of the subcategories included in each type of data collected. For instance, as shown in the example below, you have the option of looking at how the population of Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, or Asians varies across counties.

    Be careful when you see a category with an expand arrow next to it. If you just check the main category heading, such as “Race”, it will automatically select, and hence display, all of the subcategories within the larger category (i.e., each subcategory within the Race category). So if you select the Race heading, it would display data not just for whites, but also Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians.

    If you want to just view data for just one of the subcategories for, say, Race, then you would need to click on the expand arrow to the left of the race button and then select just one of the racial subcategories.

    Practice Excercise

    So far, we have gone over two general concepts that are important for displaying data on the Web Mapping System: 1) Selecting a level of geography (MSA, County, or both) and 2) How to properly select data to display on the map. Next, to bring it all together, we will go through a step by step example of generating a thematic map.

    Let’s say that we are interested in mapping how the percentage of Non-Hispanic Whites varies across counties in America using 2006-2008 American Community Survey data. We could do this with our mapping system by going through the following steps.

    Step #1: By default, our WMA will automatically display total population data at the county level for the 06-08 American Community Survey (ACS 06-08) on the map window. First, select the “Map Contents” widget and select the expand arrow () next to the “American Community Survey 2006-2008 County” button.

    Step #2: Next uncheck the “Total population (County)” button so you can display other kinds of data separately. Also, make sure the “County Boundary” button is selected.

    Step #3: Next locate the “Race” category.

    Step #4: Do not actually check or select the button next to the “Race” category. Doing this will display all of the subcategories under the race category on the map at the same time. Instead, click on the expand arrow (2).

    Step #5: After the Race category is expanded, select the “% Non-Hispanic White (County)” button. This will display our data of interest.

    Step #6: To interpret the data – the varying shades of color – we need to open up the map legend.  You can access the current map legend by selecting the Show Dynamic Map Legend button (3 ) from additional controls in Map Content widget.

  • Downloading Data

  • You can download select data tables in MS excel format by selecting the “download data” link under Help menu. Or, you can also download data from the home page of 2010 Plus mapping website.


  • Printing the Map 

  • You can print the map as it appears on the map window. To go about printing the map, press the Print button under Map menu. This will open Print widget and will allow you to give your map a title and subtitle. Your map title and subtitle will be included in the top left of your printout.


Please e-mail mumford@albany.edu if you have questions or comments regarding this help document.