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Research Guides@Tufts

Community Health

Policy Map

Policy Map

An easy-to-use web-based Geographic Information System (GIS), use Policy Map to create maps of the United States down to the Census block group in many cases. Available data includes demographics, home sale statistics, health data, mortgage trends, school performance scores and labor data like unemployment, crime statistics and city crime rates.



The most basic interface for viewing one dataset in a particular geography.

1)        Set Location - you can search for locations by an address, a type of geography (e.g. zip code, city, county, or state), census tract,         congressional district, school district, state legislative boundaries, or metro areas.

2)     Add Data Layer - select a category from the Add Data Layer menu, drill down the menu or sub-menu and select the data layer. The maps are "heat maps," where the shaded areas in a darker color represent the higher concentration or amount or percentage, anything in a lighter shade is the opposite of the range.

3)     Use the Legend - change years, variables, the geography level shaded, edit the ranges, add ranges.

4)     Add Sites - add specific points to the map, either from the pre-loaded types of information (e.g. schools, libraries), or by creating your own point ("My Site").

5)     Build a Custom Region - for tips on how to create custom regions, watch this tutorial -

6)     Save/Print/Embed a Map, Email this Page - choose from among the options at the lower corner of the map window.



Good for finding the underlying data.

1)     Add Locations - use the location toolbar to add specific geographies.

2)     Add Data Layer - click on the relevant dataset to add data.

3)     See Values - for the underlying data and for export to Excel or CSV, click See Values. For more on this, see the tutorial -

4)     Print/Save - make your choices and click Save.



Get all of the information about a particular geography in report format.

1)     Type of Report - select the radio button for the type of report you want.

2)     Geography - choose the appropriate location using the Set location toolbar

3)     Generate Report - on the next screen click Generate Report.

4)     Save/Print Report



Find areas that meet particular conditions - (e.g. poor people with high levels of obesity in places with few farmers markets in MA).

1)  Set Location - Choose the location

2)     Add Data Layer - choose first dataset to add, then use the legend to select the specific parameters you want. Repeat these steps for up to two more datasets.

3)     View Map - the darkest purple shade represents places where all three data conditions are met.

4)     Save/Print/Email/Embed - options are the same as for Maps, but with the additional option to download a table of all places that meet the same three criteria "Download Places Lists."



While Policy Map will someday allow you to upload your own data for use on their site, it is not currently functional. You can however, add specific points to their maps and make that map publically viewable or share the link to that map with others.



1)     Your Librarians -

         UEP Research & Instruction Librarian

         Social Sciences Bibliographer    

            Social Sciences Data Librarian                Joshua

2)     Policy Map's Help - Their help pages ( are pretty good and their tutorials on specific tasks are really good.

3)     Use Policy Map's Quick Start Guide to get started.

4)     Locate 2010 Census Tracts from the U.S. Census web site.



Alyson Gamble's picture
Alyson Gamble