Data Visualization Map Reveals Educational Attainment Levels in Your...

Big Data

Data Visualization Map Reveals Educational Attainment Levels in Your Neighborhood

Mar 14, 2017

Many people believe big data is key to solving national and global problems. However, interpreting large number sets can prove to be an arduous task which is why data visualization has become a powerful tool for researchers and policy makers. A recently released data visualization titled, Educational Attainment in America, takes stats from the National Historical Geographic Information System to map out degree completion data from the U.S. Census.

Educational Attainment in America Map Screenshot of the New York City Area

Kyle Walker, director of Texas Christian University’s Center for Urban Studies, worked independently to create the interactive map. The colors depict a sharp contrast between educational attainment in urban areas, where several blue dots indicate groups of people with graduate degrees, and more rural areas, which are visibly red, showing a high concentration of individuals with less than a high school degree. However, if a user zooms in, they will notice that even within dense cities like New York, certain boroughs, like Manhattan, have significantly higher levels of educational attainment than Queens or the Bronx. “There a lot of conversations around social and political polarization between metro areas and rural areas,” said Walker in an interview with EdSurge, “One thing that the map does allow us to observe is a clustering of individuals with at least a bachelor's or graduate degrees in cities as opposed to rural areas.”

The data was prepared with R and Python programming languages, and the map is hosted on the Mapbox platform—a digital mapping tool. Dots on the map do not represent particular people in a location, but the general population in a given area based on census data. The dots are placed randomly within the census blocks that have a recorded population. Depending on whether a user is zoomed in or out, dots represent different numbers of people. For example, “when fully zoomed in, one dot represents approximately 25 people; when fully zoomed out, one dot represents approximately 500 people,” reads the map’s key. Users can also filter or summarize the data visible to you by using the interactive map legend to remove particular groups.


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