How do I generate dynamic maps broken down by zip code?
February 18, 2005 8:09 AM   Subscribe

My employer often conducts a lot of its business based on zip codes (locations of things, addresses of people registered on our site, etc.), so I'd like to generate some maps that can show statistics down to a zip code level.

Something like this is what I have in mind. A map of the US, with the zip code regions in different colors.

So does anyone know of a product or technique that can help? Any technology will suffice: static graphics, flash, anything.
posted by patgas to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
If you could get the Lat/Long coords for zip codes, I don't see why you couldn't use whatever image library you prefer with php or perl to generate those statistics. There may even be something already out there for generating maps with waypoints--which would just be a matter of altering the program to suit your needs.
posted by angry modem at 8:13 AM on February 18, 2005

I believe Microsoft MapPoint is what you're looking for.
posted by skwm at 8:28 AM on February 18, 2005

I'm not sure what statistics you'd like to attach to your maps, but if it's demographics (race, gender, income etc.) you're after, you can't beat American Factfinder.

It will generate maps on the fly of many different geographic delineations -- zip codes included -- using data from the 2000 Census.
posted by dizzycow at 8:40 AM on February 18, 2005

Search your favorite application archive for "GIS". There's all manner of projects out there.

ARCView is one well-known commercial product. Here's a list also of open source GIS options.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:17 AM on February 18, 2005

Claritas is a market research company that, from its website, "defines every neighborhood in the U.S. in terms of 66 distinct lifestyle types using ground-breaking segmentation techniques."

They also have maps that reflect the data they have compiled about the zipcodes. It is proprietary software, but I believe they have free trials and you are allowed to create a report for free. You may get some ideas/info from checking out their site.
posted by mlis at 1:01 PM on February 18, 2005

Response by poster: Perhaps I can clarify my question a bit. I already have a database full of data, I just need some software that can pull from it and generate a map, preferably with each zipcode shaded to indicate a the value there, like the flash maps I linked to above.
posted by patgas at 1:17 PM on February 18, 2005

Mappoint is the easiest solution.
It can take data from Excel, Access, or comma delimited among others.
You can shade zipcodes based on any of the fields you import, you can average, you can do min/max, you can combine the fields (Show me all zip codes with at least 10 people who visited the site in the last week, ordered from high to low)

It makes maps like this(big image):

Keep in mind, like most things MS, it's grown into a whole server/webservices/monster deal, but you don't need to use any of that.
Also, if you are just mapping your own data, you could probably find an older version for cheap, since you wouldn't need up to date demographic stats.
posted by madajb at 3:16 PM on February 18, 2005

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