How to Create Your Own Maps

When I was studying geography at university I enjoyed creating my own maps using ArcGIS software.  However, I thought my days of creating maps were over when I finished my course and no longer had access to the software.  Fortunately I did the boot camp at the THAT Camp in Canberra last year where Paul Hagon showed us how to create maps through Google Fusion Tables.  How exciting!  In this post I will share with you how I created a basic map of some 2011 Australian census data so hopefully you too can experience the joys of basic map making.

The point of this exercise was to help me learn more about making maps and to explore some of the data available from the 2011 census and the datasets that Australian governments have made available on  I wanted to hone my skills in pulling together data from disparate sources, manipulating the data and mapping it.

The first map that I wanted to create would depict the number of school aged children (those in the 6-18 age group) as a proportion of the total population.  I wanted to concentrate on the Melbourne metropolitan area and its’ Local Government Areas (LGAs).  I needed the following data:

  • a shape file that showed LGA boundaries for Melbourne in .kml format;
  • the number of children aged 6-18 for each LGA; and
  • the total population in each LGA. Continue reading