An Important and Completely Unappetizing Map

We all want to eat healthy, but usually that includes things like fresh vegetables and less processed food. You can add restaurants with clean floors to that list. Perhaps thWe all want to eat healthy, but usually that includes things like fresh vegetables and less processed food. You can add restaurants with clean floors to that list. Perhaps that’s an obvious requirement, but a kitchen’s cleanliness is rarely apparent to patrons. That’s why health departments in many localities have frequent inspections, with the results available to the public. It’s not always so easy to find and view a restaurant’s score, but plotting this open data on a map using BatchGeo can expose problem places near you.

View Chicago Health Code High Risk Failed Inspections in a full screen map

That’s what we did with Chicago’s health department records, available on its open data portal. We loaded all 2,500 high risk failed inspections into BatchGeo, allowing Chicagoans to gain some insights from making the data geographically browsable.

Look for Overall Trends

Our map automatically tries to show all the data at once. Since the 2,500 markers would be dense and overlapping, by default BatchGeo enabled the map clustering option. While that can be disabled, it’s useful for gaining a glimpse of the data below. For example, we can tell that in most neighborhoods about half of violations were due to canvassing, the periodic inspections performed by the health department. About 15-20% come directly from complaints and about the same number are found when applying for a license.

You can also mix and match the grouping fields to get additional insights. Just use the menu in the lower left to select a field and one or more values. For example, you might be more interested in day care and other children’s facilities than restaurants. Select Facility Type from the grouping menu, then click the three types that correspond to those places. Now switch the grouping to Inspection Type and you’ll only see the data for day cares. Here we can tell that, for this type of facility, license and canvassing make up an even great portion of the violations.

Find Nearby Health Code Violations

You’re more likely to eat near where you live or work. Every BatchGeo map optionally includes a store locator feature to find your closest plotted point on the map. Let’s say you live at Wrigley Field, 1060 W Addison St. Put the address into the search bar in the upper right of the map. You’ll be taken to the three violations in 2015 at the stadium itself, which has a number of food vendors.

Or let’s say you’re President Obama going home to Chicago. Plot in his family’s address at 5046 South Greenwood Avenue and you can see Windy’s Deli had some issues with refrigerator temperature.

How We Found the Data

Chicago health code violations data
Filter Chicago's health violations dataThe City of Chicago Data Portal has hundreds of available datasets, updated regularly. One of its most popular is the food inspections data we used, which contains every single inspection from 2010 to now. In addition to failed inspections, you’ll find every check that passed, as well as every level of risk. In our map, we only show high risk failed inspections from 2015. We didn’t have to crunch that data ourselves, the Chicago data portal allows us to filter the data.

We employed three different filters to get the data we needed. First, we included start and end dates for the inspections—January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015. Next, we only wanted results that included a Fail. Finally, we wanted the risk to be high, to weed out leaky faucets and other low risk findings that also result in failing a health inspection. Finally, there’s an option to export the filtered data in a number of formats, including a CSV for Excel, which we can easily turn into a BatchGeo map.

Find Your Own City Data

This map and data works great if you live in Chicago. What about if you live somewhere else? Your local health department likely makes its records available online. You might also check with Socrata, the company whose software powers Chicago’s site, as well as several others. Socrata maintains this list of public data portals, itself powered by Socrata.

You’ll find other ideas, including mapping Wikipedia lists, in our guide to mapping open data.

MLK’s Legacy in Two Simple Maps

In the United States, one way Martin Luther King is remembered is by celebrating his birthday every January. King also factors heavily in many Black History Month programs at elementary schools in February. But in many other ways, the civil rights leader is remembered throughout the year. These two maps follow King’s life and one way his presence is felt within over 150 cities in the United States: with a street bearing his name.

View Martin Luther King, Jr. Timeline in a full screen map

Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute compiled a chronology of major events, from 1929 (his birth) to 1968 (his death). We’ve pulled out geographic-specific events and included imagery where useful.

You’ll find the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of King’s earliest political movements. Of course, the March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, is one of several events located in the capital city.

Much of the major events are located in the southern United States, including King’s native Georgia and nearby Alabama. When it comes to the other map, there is also plenty of southern representation. But it’s clear King’s legacy extends beyond one region of the country.

View Streets Named After Martin Luther King in a full screen map

This map contains 169 streets in 165 cities (New York City, Cleveland, and San Diego show up multiple times) all named after Martin Luther King, Jr. From San Francisco to Boston, and many cities in-between, there is at least one representative street in all but 12 states.

North Carolina leads the way with 20 streets named after King. Florida has 15, and Texas 13. Mississippi is the only other state with double digit representation, with 10. King’s home state of Georgia has six. Alabama only has three—Mobile, Scottsboro, and fittingly, Selma.

Since it’s a rarity to add entirely new streets to cities, most of which were changed from previous names. You can click each marker to find the background, derived from Wikipedia. Over a third (56) of these streets are named “Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.” Another 41 cities went with “Drive” instead. Others are “Ways,” “Streets,” “Avenues,” and “Parkways.” There are five “Expressways,” three “Freeways,” and one “Bypass.”

No matter what you call these dedications, it’s a small but fitting tribute to King’s legacy. Explore these BatchGeo maps as an interactive history lesson through a medium you might typically think of for driving directions.

The World’s Tallest Mountains Await (Literally or Figuratively)

As we enter a new year, it’s natural to think about goals and achievements. You have a clean slate and you can accomplish anything. While you may not be planning to summit any of the mountains on this list, your loftiest goals may be just as difficult in other ways. Set your sights high as you consider what you want to accomplish and take some lessons from skilled mountain climbers, even if your aim is something closer to sea level.

View Highest Mountains by Prominence in a full screen map

Above you’ll find a map of the world’s tallest mountains by prominence (more on the definition later). Unsurprisingly, Mount Everest is the highest, and the Himalayan range has several of the tallest. You’ll find these high peaks all over the world, on every continent. Some even shoot out of small islands. Talk about prominent!

Ready to set your sights high, at least metaphorically?

Prepare at Base Camp

Everest Base Camp - 0878

Every big adventure begins with preparation. There’s base camp itself, immediately before you begin your journey. But even prior to strapping on your boots, you want to plan out intermediate steps. Trace your route to the top, determine where you’ll stop to rest, and use the small progress as motivation.

The same method can work for any goals. Take stock of where you are, declare the end result, and then plan your increments between the two. Part of staying motivated is to only take on what you can handle. If you’ve never climbed a mountain before, Everest might not be the one to try first. Even Mount Shishaldin on the Aleutian Islands is an impressive summit.

Big Doesn’t Always Mean Prominent

Sunset

As mentioned earlier, the mountains on the map above show the world’s tallest by prominence. Prominence is a topographical term related to where one peak ends and another begins. By elevation alone, the 100 highest peaks are all in the Himalayas.

In areas of high elevation, a 3,000 meter peak may not be impressive. Whereas, in an area near sea level, 3,000 meters is quite prominent. Haleakalā on the Hawaiian island of Maui fits this description precisely. Its height and prominence are the same amount, because the volcanic mountain is not part of a range like most mainland peaks.

Similarly, when it comes to goal setting, how high you aim depends on your current experience. If you don’t regularly run a mile, then a marathon of over 26 miles shouldn’t be in your near future. The reverse is also true: if you consistently run a six minute mile, there’s no use setting a goal to run a seven minute mile.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t set big goals, just make sure it’s also prominent.

Allow Plenty of Time

Nepal - Sagamartha Trek - 106 - Shreeram Thumbs up on Gokyo Ri w prayer flags

Rome wasn’t built in a day, they say. Nor is Everest summited in a single day (it takes over a month). So, naturally, any goal worth achieving should not be rushed.

Putting in the time will make reaching the goal that much sweeter.

There Are No Shortcuts

Naomi Summiting Everest

You have to put in your time and you can’t catch a helicopter to the top of Everest (or many of these highest peaks). While the destination may be the purpose, you have to enjoy the stops along the way. So, find your nearest mountain—or mountain-like objective—and start your plan to reach the top.

Today I Learned There Are Actually Four North Poles

You may think the North Pole is at 90 degrees latitude, opposite the South Pole. It’s true that the northernmost point on earth, in the middle of an almost permanently frozen Arctic Ocean, is a place we refer to as the North Pole. It’s where Santa Claus is said to live. But according to our research there are actually four North Poles (and for that matter, three Santa Clauses). Along with these revelations, you’ll find over 170 cities on the map below that have names you may find especially festive this time of year.

View Christmas Themed Cities in a full screen map

As with the Halloween-themed scary place names, we’ve prepared a map with Christmas-themed names. You can use the map above to explore these locations, or type your zip code or city name in the form below to find the Christmasy place nearest you. (Apologies to those who don’t celebrate the holiday, though you’ll find plenty of secular names in the group—Snow, anyone?)

Alas, the North Pole is still exactly where you expect it. But there are four other places in the United States that also claim the name: North Pole, Alaska, is the most well-known, and the closest to the actual location and climate. Still, if you’re in Idaho, New York, or Oklahoma, you also have a North Pole.

The most common city names are listed below, each with at least five states that have dubbed a place with this Christmas or holiday-themed name.

Name Number States
Star 13 Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia
Bell 10 Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and Oklahoma
Snow 7 Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah
Shepherd 7 Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas
Comet 6 Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia
Garland 6 Maine, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah
Evergreen 6 Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, and Virginia
Bethlehem 6 Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and New York
Chestnut 6 Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, and West Virginia
Christmas 5 Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, and Mississippi
Jolly 5 Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas
Bells 5 Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas
Atlers 5 California, Colorado, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Virginia
Rudolph 5 Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin

Star is the most common, unless you combine the Bell and Bells. Surprisingly, there are only five Christmases, though that would increase if we included the four similarly-rooted Christmas City, Christmas Cove, Christmas Valley, and Christmasville.

As mentioned above, there are three Santa Clauses, but the jolly man has some Saint Nicknames. There are four Saint Nicholases and in Idaho it’s just Santa (no Claus). The man in the red suit has far fewer namesakes than his reindeer. Between the nine flyers, there are 18 cities named after reindeer, Comet being the most common. And unlike the song, which suggests Rudolph gets ignored, it’s Dancer and Prancer who get no love, with not a single city named after either of them.

If you live in Michigan, you have the most Christmas-themed cities to choose from, with 10. Florida and Texas each have eight, then six states each have seven. There are nine states that aren’t feeling the spirit at all: Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wyoming don’t have a single city with a Christmas theme.

If all this doesn’t have you singing like Hallelujah Junction, California, then we’ll close with the perfect place for you. Make your way to the sunny climes of Humbug, Arizona.

Map Your Holiday Cards List

Over half of Americans send a Christmas card or other holiday greeting toward the end of every year. That’s probably higher if you consider businesses sending notes to their customers and leads. If you’re one of the majority preparing this year’s bundle, you probably have a spreadsheet with the names and addresses of everyone on your list. Or, if you don’t have such a document, maybe you’ll think about starting one. Among the many benefits you get from an organized list of recipients is the ability to easily plot them on a map. We’ll go over that and more in this post.

Holiday Cards by LindsayThe first and best reason to keep a spreadsheet of addresses is organization. Physical address books become filled with redacted entries as people move. Or worse, the entries are outdated or duplicative. A spreadsheet allows you to search and update when you receive a new address. You can also easily share the document with someone else, such as a spouse or other family member. In fact, services like Google Spreadsheets let you share and make edits live, without ever sending around attachments.

Another good reason to keep a spreadsheet with all your addresses is, if you choose, you can mail merge the labels. This may be a controversial suggestion to some who believe in hand-lettering. That’s fine, you can still reap the spreadsheet benefits by printing out your list to make it easy to determine whose envelope you’ve already addressed.

For those sending customer greetings, you can likely export from your CRM software to a CSV or Excel spreadsheet. Either of those formats work great for mail merge and plotting your contacts on a map.

View Holiday Card List in a full screen map

You can see an example map above. At BatchGeo, our card list is short, but filled with a mix of rich, famous, and fictional. In fact, you can filter the map by those three types of people. If you have other information about the people on your list, include it in a column in your spreadsheet, then you can use the grouping feature the same way we did above. Perhaps you want to group by customers, leads, friends, acquaintances, or other attributes. If it’s in your spreadsheet, it will become a powerful, interactive map in BatchGeo.

Other fun things you’ll see from your map are where everyone lives. Are they all in the same city? Maybe they’re in a couple clumps around where you grew up and where you live now. You could even use basic map clustering to tabulate the areas with a greater number of contacts. This is especially useful when mapping sales leads, of course, but it’s fun to see even for your friends list.

So, dust off your spreadsheet of addresses, or make a new one. Then visualize that data on a BatchGeo map today.