|Making Maps in Excel|
|• Creating Simple Maps with Microsoft Excel
• Free Spreadsheet Geocoding
MapCite is a geographic data visualization company that offers both a web mapping and Excel interface for users to analyze their location data. MapCite is a relatively new company and current clients include the NHS and Vodafone in the UK. Oliver Jones, Head of Business Development, who led me through the demo, cautioned that MapCite is “not a GIS” and refers to the company’s products as location intelligence applications. The focus of MapCite is to offer non technical users the capability to pull vast amounts of data onto a map in order to do “a bit more” than answer “where’s my data?” questions. MapCite fills a niche of users that don’t want to get into deep technical use of web mapping but need to be able to map out location data and perform basic spatial queries.
MapCite’s Web Mapping
Since MapCite requires no development time for the user, getting up and running is pretty straightforward. Data can be uploaded in a five stage wizard using CSV files into the hosted SQL database. MapCite can handle large datasets. The largest file tested to date contained 625,000 records. A 40-50 megabyte file takes about 1-2 minutes to process. A geocoding step converts addresses and appends lat/long coordinates to the file. The user can then pick out the columns to display and filter by. Numerical fields can optionally be selected for the heat map display.
MapCite uses Bing as its base map for two reasons: the developers like the look and performance, and the company is a Microsoft Partner. Point locations at a large scale are shown as cluster points for better visualization. Clicking on a cluster allows the user to zoom into a smaller scale view of the area with the points individually symbolized. Multiple data points at one location are symbolized differently.
The tools for creating a heat map, setting the buffer distance, and filtering the results are all very intuitive. Sliders allow the user to set the buffer diameter and heat map intensity. Data can be easily filtered to restrict what attributes are mapped. The next version will allow for freehand polygon selection in addition to the rubberband selecting currently in place for geographic queries. Selections can be easily imported into Excel.
MapCite’s power come from the easy spatial visualization and queries. Users can map out location data, see heat maps showing the intensity of different data sets, and perform such analysis as where the locations of data points from one set are in relation to another data set. For example, this functionality allows a bank to find out who all the customers are that live within two miles of Branch A.
MapCite offers the capability of uploading KML files to the map. End user controls are also in place to restrict who can add, tweak, and view mapped data.
From MapCite, an itemized list of MapCite’s functionality includes:
- Unlimited pins on map, including pin clustering
- Data upload function via simple 5 stage wizard, including geocoder
- Filtering of datasets to enhance results displayed
- Heat mapping with user variable intensity
- Location Analytics with user scalable radius selection
- Combined pin and heatmap overlays
- Enhanced ‘Where’s the nearest?’ and direction finder functions
- Simple extraction/export function into Excel
- Choropleth mapping of dataset with variable polygon selection
- Simple KML boundary and line file uploads and visualization
- Fully customisable and user managed pin sets, with pin labeling options
- Online and offline mobile reporting module available, including image uploads from smartphone and tablet devices
- Accessible API for integration with other applications including BI & CRM
MapCite’s Excel AddIn
In addition to the web mapping application, MapCite offers the same mapping and geographic analytical functions as an Excel addin. The plugin supports Excel versions 2007 and later.
Stevens remarked that the Excel AddIn is generating a lot of excitement in the UK, where the company is based. The addin brings mapping directly into the worksheet. All of the functionalities are completely contained within the Excel environment, although an Internet connection is required for the map function. Videos demonstrating the Excel plugin are hosted on the MapCite Excel page.
MapCite’s list of functionality for the Excel AddIn:
- MapCite for Excel®™ integrates fully as a toolbar icon in Excel®™
- Select single or multiples worksheets to visualise on your map
- View data as icons or clusters
- Heatmap your data visualisations, with variable intensity and size
- Geocode your data on the fly within Excel®™
- Customise your icons
- View multiple datasets in a single view
- Draw around pins and extract data into a separate worksheet
- Compare extracts from varying geo locations
- View map visualisations next to charting visuals
- Upload direct to Business Intelligence toolkits
A mobile reporting application is also available that allows for real-time population of mobile reporting. The mobile reporting application is capable of running across all smartphone environments.
MapCite was developed to be a cost effective mapping solution for those that want to get into mapping without the long startup time or costs that a typical GIS-based web development project can run into. There are free versions of the MapCite web mapping tool and Excel plugin available to download from their website. Additionally MapCite are very happy to engage in short term pilot projects and discuss pricing based on client requirements.