A geographic heat map visualizes your data within a specific area. Organizations often use these maps to highlight where current consumers and clients live, where physical locations are within a geographic area and other specific types of geographic data. Typically, these maps will use shading or color to highlight various components, although they may use markers to indicate higher portions of datasets. There are a few different geographic heat maps, each with individual benefits.
Table of Contents
What are the different types of geographic heat maps?
Every type of geographic heat map has its unique use and benefit. Understanding how these tools work for individuals, governments, and businesses can help you make informed decisions based on your requirements.
This highly popular map is one most people are familiar with, although they probably didn’t know the map’s name. These maps use colors and shading to outline a specific value of a statistic within a map, outlined per geographic area. For example, someone wanting to create a choropleth map of Canada showing population density would shade different regions, cities, provinces with varying shades according to the legend. Those areas with higher population densities will populate darker (or more concentrated) than areas with fewer people.
Proportional Symbol Maps
These geographical heat maps represent actual objects (like squares or circles) as they occur on an area-by-area basis. If you were creating a proportional symbol map of the United States to show the number of award-winning artists, you would use squares to represent the locations of all winners. The square size would be proportional to the number of winners within that specific location.
Hot Spot Maps
A hot spot map (known as a density heat map) is the default map that comes to mind for most people considering heat maps. Instead of visualizing specific values across a boundary, the hot spot map will measure the density of data points within a particular radius of geographic locations. These are often used for qualitative analysis, as they’re not limited to boundaries. Individuals use these maps to determine trends, identify clusters of essential data points, reveal sales patterns, track overall performance, or identify new growth opportunities.
These maps are similar to proportional symbol maps because they use symbols to highlight areas of high value. The circles within a map (regardless of color) determine the higher value areas of data.
Regional Heat Maps
Also known as a boundary heat map, the regional heat map helps visualize average values within a dataset by predefined boundaries. This heat mapping tool will compare ranges in data over significant geographic locations (for example, the vaccination rate across the entire United States or city-by-city volumes.
The regional heat map is a sub-genre of choropleth maps. These heat maps are always area-specific, meaning they measure specific data by geographic boundary. These boundaries may include city, county, state, country, zip code, or sales area. Like the Choropleth map, regional heat maps show different data groups between regions on the map.
Making a Geographic Map
Currently, Google Maps is the default setting for most individuals hoping to view data on a geographic plane. Unfortunately, this application doesn’t allow geographic maps currently. As a workaround, many individuals can access mapping software offering Google Map integration to enable additional features and settings without familiarizing themselves with new programs. Most mapping software does integrate looks and functions similar to Google Maps while still bringing a competitive advantage overall.
Log in to the account and upload your current data using mapping software. This data automatically uploads with spreadsheet applications (Google Sheets or Excel, for example), expediting the process for those with thousands of entries. Once the information is uploaded on the mapping software, create the map with the data. Locate the tools icon within the software and find the heat mapping function.
Under the Heat Map Style, determine whether marker density or density of numerical data is required. When reviewing the sample, choose whether you’d like to measure all markers or if you’re looking at specific groups of data for the heat mapping properties. Customize any mapping functions according to color, radius, or predefined setting. Finalize your decision to create your map and review the data.