Tour the U.S. World Heritage Sites

Take the Seven Wonders of the World, expand the list and you get the World Heritage sites. A United Nations creation from the 1960s, there are now over 1,000 of these sites all over the world. In the United States there have been 23 locations ratified since the 1970s, all shown on the map below.

View World Heritage Sites in the United States in a full screen map

An impressive 21 states are represented amongst the 23 locations, taking into account that some are shared among multiple states. Yellowstone, for example, covers areas of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Great Smoky Mountains are in both Tennessee and North Carolina. New Mexico has the most of any state with three: Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Taos Pueblo, and Carlsbad Caverns.

World Heritage sites are chosen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The US spurred the process originally, calling for a “World Heritage Trust” in 1965. The project became a reality in 1972, with the first US sites chosen in the late 1970s. Worldwide, there are 962 sites, including cultural sites like the Taj Mahal and natural sites like the Serengeti National Park.

Cultural vs Natural

The broad criteria for inclusion as a World Heritage site is that a place must have natural or cultural significance. A site must meet at least one of ten criteria, and nations nominate from their own tentative lists. Interestingly, a site may be considered both cultural and natural. These “mixed” sites account for a very small number (just 29) worldwide. Most sites are cultural (745), which indicates they’re likely man-made. Only 19% (188 sites) are natural.

In the US, the split is much more even—in fact, there are more natural than cultural. You can use BatchGeo’s grouping feature on the map above to display the 12 natural and 10 cultural sites. That just covers 22 of the 23. The other one, Papahānaumokuākea, is a mixed site in Hawaii and minor outlying islands.

The earliest World Heritage sites in the US to join the list were Yellowstone (Natural) and Mesa Verde (Cultural). Four others followed the next year, including the Grand Canyon. The most recent, the San Antonio Missions, was added in 2015. More are likely coming: there are still 11 sites on the US tentative list, including Petrified Forest National Park and Mount Vernon, the plantation home of the much-homaged George Washington.

Mapping Local Crime Data Online

When Google Maps was released in 2005, one of the first projects to use it externally was ChicagoCrime.org. Though now defunct, the site was built when the hard way to add Google Maps was even harder. It inspired many other community crime maps, and won a Knight-Batten award for innovation in journalism in 2005. Since that time many newspapers have replaced the traditional police blotter with the much more visual map, as you’ll see in these examples below.

Readers use crime maps in many different ways. Some will want to check for incidents in their immediate neighborhood, with most police data reported at the block level. Others will be interested in a larger neighborhood area or the city as a whole. Since most police data is segmented by type, readers may also want to see which incidents are thefts, burglary, or other types of crime.

Example Newspaper Crime Maps

Many newspapers have maps of recent crimes that staff keep updated on their websites. These can be used by both readers and journalists as the seed for future stories.

Evansville Courier and Press

The Evansville Courier and Press in Indiana maintains an impressive daily crime map built with BatchGeo. Each incident includes the address, case number, date, type of incident, and the department that reported it (typically the Evansville Police).

Anniston Star

The Anniston Star of Alabama regularly updates its map of recent crimes, and it lets readers group by the date of the crime. This powerful grouping and filtering feature comes with all BatchGeo accounts, no special coding required.

Milwaukee Community Newspapers

Milwaukee’s Community NOW newspapers are reaching BatchGeo power user status with their frequently updated map. The incident reports can be filtered by incident type, which allows readers and journalists to focus on specific types of crimes.

These are just a handful of crime maps created with BatchGeo. One of the reasons we’re a popular solution is that it’s very easy to create your own.

How to Create a Crime Map

We’ve designed BatchGeo to make map making as easy as copy and paste. Crime maps are the same. Here’s how you can make your own:

  1. Find a data source – This may be the hardest part, but your city should have a way to access police reports. This is very likely open data, after all.
  2. Store your data in a spreadsheet – You should be able to download as Excel or CSV, as is an option in the popular Socrata government datasets. Alternatively, you may be able to copy from a table on the web into a spreadsheet.
  3. Paste the data into BatchGeo – Once your data is in a spreadsheet, it’s ready for BatchGeo. Just copy and paste to make a map from your Excel spreadsheet.
  4. Embed the map in your website (optional) – As with the newspapers mentioned above, embedding maps in your own website helps you control the user experience and looks professional.

Crime is just one of the ways journalists use BatchGeo. Every map tells a story, start telling yours now.

Put Little Debbie on the Map

Little Debbie Star CrunchIf you’re anything like us, you imagine maps everywhere. There really is no better way to visualize geographic data. In your Excel spreadsheets, or hiding in plain sight on Wikipedia, many stories are best told with a map.

This is one of them.

What’s This Have to Do With Little Debbie?

Recently a friend from Portland, Oregon, got back from visiting family on the east coast. He came to visit and brought Star Crunch cookies, a snack made by Little Debbie. It was his childhood favorite, but he hadn’t found it out west. He’d stocked up while back home.

The next day, I discovered the Snack Finder on Little Debbie’s website. I plugged in a Portland zip code and discovered several places that sell Star Crunch, in a long list of store names and addresses.

Star Crunch store list

That’s the perfect opportunity for a BatchGeo map. Three copy-pastes later (I decided to look up the 12 pack, single Star Crunch, and the Big Pack), I had a beautiful, browsable map. This gave him a way to visualize just how close he was to his favorite childhood cookie.

View Portland-area Star Crunch in a full screen map

I simply texted the link to him, with no other information. He was surely impressed, but probably as much due to BatchGeo’s mobile-optimized maps as the answer to his sweet tooth.

Do the Same With Any List of Locations

This isn’t just a story about finding cookies. While these treats are delicious, you’ll find tasty stories everywhere as you browse the Internet. You just need to look for them. You will find data in all sorts of formats, but many will copy-paste nicely into BatchGeo. Check out our open data tutorial for an example of just how easy it can be.

You can use BatchGeo to visualize the data you find. When you plot it on a map, you’re telling a story. Use the maps in a blog post, create a store locator, or just share it with a friend.

Of course, a BatchGeo doesn’t just plot a bunch of marker pins on a map and stop there. Any additional data becomes available within each marker’s info box. And that same data can be grouped or you can create cluster maps to bubble up important insights within the data.

Don’t let your story go untold. Create a BatchGeo map now for free.

How Often Are There Earthquakes in San Francisco?

It’s been 110 years since the great quake of 1906 destroyed San Francisco. Ever since, San Francisco, and California as a whole, has obtained a reputation for these ground-shaking natural disasters. On the anniversary, we thought we’d take a look at every significant California earthquake since 1900 and see just how many are in San Francisco.

California earthquake heat map

For starters, we used our new Advanced Tools to look at a heat map of the data. This takes into account the concentration of individual quakes. The greater Bay Area is certainly a hot zone, though that is a geographically large region. To the North is Santa Rosa, with Santa Cruz to the South. Each of these cities is around 50 miles away from San Francisco.

Next we added a record to the top of our data to serve as the center of San Francisco. Then we had BatchGeo calculate the distance from every earthquake epicenter to that San Francisco data point. With the map below, we can now see how many earthquakes have been near San Francisco.

View California Earthquakes Relative to San Francisco in a full screen map

Using BatchGeo’s grouping feature, we can filter the map to see the earthquakes within about 50 miles of San Francisco. There have only been half a dozen since 1906, and no others that were centered within the city. The closest was a 2014 Napa quake, 30 miles away with a magnitude of 6.

Distance is only one factor. Plate tectonics and magnitude have a lot to say about how far the disastrous effects will travel. The 1989 earthquake that interrupted the Bay Bridge World Series between the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants collapsed a section of that bridge, as well as a San Francisco freeway. The epicenter was nearly 60 miles away from San Francisco in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Expanding the radius to 100 miles still only shows 13 major earthquakes, including both 1906 and 1989, as well as others that did no damage in San Francisco. That leaves another 41 earthquakes elsewhere in California. There are several clustered around Eureka, a small group in the Sierras, and quite a few in the Los Angeles area.

To conclude, in San Francisco you can expect an earthquake every decade or so, but it’s unlikely to match the expectations set by disaster movie San Andreas, the devastation of 1906, or even the World Series postponing shakes of 1989.

Advanced Mode Adds Even More Insights to Your Maps

Your maps help you understand your data. They tell a story that a standard spreadsheet just doesn’t make possible. With our new Advanced Mode, we’ve enhanced the visual map by selectively exposing the data it contains. You can use sort, select, and copy any of your data in spreadsheet-like format. We’ve also included visual selection tools (rectangles and circles), as well as a handy distance measuring tool. BatchGeo’s Advanced Mode is available to all Pro users. We think it’s so useful that we’ve switched it on by default (you can adjust this in the Pro menu in the upper right corner of any map).

Data Sorting, Selecting, and Copying

At the heart of Advanced Mode is the Data View, which can be activated from the context menu by right clicking on the map. The height-adjustable table looks a lot like a spreadsheet. It also acts a lot like a spreadsheet, allowing you to sort columns and select rows. Then you can copy the selected data to paste back into a spreadsheet or use as a new BatchGeo map.

To sort, click a column heading. To reverse the sort order, click again. When you’re ready to select several rows, click and drag to highlight them all—you may see the map view change in response as it displays those you’ve selected. To select (or un-select) one at a time, hold Ctrl (Cmd on Mac) and click on the desired row.

Advanced Mode Data View

When you’re ready to copy your selected data, just activate the context menu with a right click above the data view and choose Copy.

Select Visually Using the Drawing Tools

Sorting and selecting via the Data View will likely feel familiar to working with spreadsheets. You can also highlight the map geographically, with your selection translating to the table below. The drawing tools in the upper left of the map bring the power of visual selection to your data view. Use the rectangle and circle tools to choose just the markers you want to include. Then copy them as you would when selecting data in the table itself.

Bounding box selection

To select using the bounding box, choose the rectangular tool icon. Position your cursor to one of the corners of the area you want to select. Then click and hold your mouse while you draw the box around the markers you want to select. The circle tool is similar, but instead of starting at one corner, you begin in the middle of your selection. In both cases, you can hold shift while selecting to extend your selection.

In addition to visual and data selection, there are two other features of Advanced Mode we want to point out.

View Heat Maps to Expose Marker Density

There are already a number of ways to visualize the density of locations using a BatchGeo map. Since we display all the markers, more in one area will naturally cause them to overlap. You can also use our map clustering feature, which is a great way to share the data within your map publicly. As part of Advanced Mode, we’ve added heat maps, which gives any Pro user the ability to toggle a heat map view of the geographic data.

Heatmap for UFO sightings

To activate the Heat View, just select it in the context menu with a right click above the map. Once activated, it will become your own personal default view on any map until you deactivate it using the same context menu on any map. The Heat View will only be visible to users that are part of your Pro plan using the web interface, and only if they use the same menu to activate.

Heat View is the best way to visualize the density of locations to uncover the story within your data. We think you’ll like it.

Calculate the Distance Between Markers

Finally, a fun little feature that we’ve found surprisingly useful. How many times have you wanted to know the distance between points on your map, or how far a marker is from a landmark? This happens to us all the time, so we added another tool to calculate on the fly.

Measuring Tool

Select the little ruler icon in the upper left menu. Then click and hold where you want your line to start. As you drag the cursor, you’ll see the distance displayed. It uses a straight, as-the-crow-flies calculation. You can take as many measurements as you like, and let go of the mouse click whenever you’re done.

Uncover More in Your Maps

We’ve heard from other BatchGeo Pro members that these tools help them find more value within their data. You can zero in on the customers, leads, or other location data that is important in the moment. The new Data View allows for easily exporting subsets of your spreadsheets, with the visual selection bringing brand new ways to geographically slice and dice your data.

Let us know what you think. If you haven’t yet, you can upgrade to Pro with our no-risk 30-day refund guarantee.