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 Or worse, the entries are outdated or duplicative.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.

Portlandia Counts Its Apple Trees

Portlandia fans will be tickled and Portlanders unsurprised to learn the Oregon city has performed a census of its apple trees. Just about every one of the fruit trees across Portland’s 145 square miles had its location, condition, and size notated in data that is downloadable by neighborhood from the city’s website. Since BatchGeo is a Portland company and we have a fun and easy mapping tool, we thought it was a perfect example to show off the over 1,000 apple trees that call Portland home.

View Apple Trees of Portland in a full screen map

At first you may notice that it appears there are areas of the city without any apple trees. That may be accurate for, say, downtown Portland. Already a five year project with more than 800 volunteers, the city hasn’t made it to every neighborhood yet. Still, with over 60% of the city enumerated, we can learn plenty about the apple trees.

For example, almost half of the trees are considered in good condition, while only 10% are in poor health. However, there doesn’t appear to be a particular area of the city that is bad for apple trees. The biggest is adjacent to Sewallcrest Park in Southeast Portland. At 38 inches diameter (measured at breast height), it’s a sizable apple tree, and an outlier in the neighborhood. There a place where the trees are bigger or smaller. All of Portland loves its apple trees.

In fact, Portland loves all its trees. The city even set the Guiness World Record in 2013 with almost 1,000 tree huggers, some of whom are shown in the video below.

And it turns out, the city doesn’t just count its apple trees. It counts all of its street trees. Over 100,000 of them, all with downloadable spreadsheets waiting to be uploaded to BatchGeo for visualization.

While Portland is ahead of many cities in open government data, you very likely can find some for your own city or country. In the United States there’s even a clearinghouse of these civic datasets called If you’re stuck on tree data, there’s currently 942 datasets matching that search term.

Open data can also be found all over Wikipedia. Rather than the Excel files common with government data, the worldwide encyclopedia often uses web-based tables that are easily copy and paste-able into your own spreadsheets–or directly to BatchGeo.

We show an example of copying, cleaning, and mapping Wikipedia data in our tutorial, How to Map Open Data.

Frightening Places in the US: Who Lives in Goblintown?

October in the United States is the month when communities make their greatest efforts to scare each other. With Halloween shortly upon us, we noticed at least 100 cities and towns across the US that won’t have to try very hard. For these, such as Fresh Kills, New York, and Red Devil, Alaska, the fright is right in the name.

View Scary Place Names for Halloween in a full screen map

Use the map above to explore these scary locations, or type your zip code or city name in the form below to find the spooky-named place nearest you.

No visit to one of these cities would be complete without a costume, at least when we’re so close to Halloween. We’ve taken the effort of choosing the best disguise to wear for each of the cities. A demon leads the way to accompany the many places with devil, hell, and satan in the name. Next comes a Jack-o-lantern costume—who knew there were so many places named Pumpkin Center? A ghost, a murderer, and Dracula round out the top five.

frankenstein-maskNaturally, you want to dress as a very specific candy bar in Hershey, Pennsylvania. You can be a little more creative in Chocolate Bayou, Texas, or Candy Town, Ohio. And if you’re looking for a treat, you’ll find a city with that name in Arkansas, Georgia, and Louisiana.

Some other common Halloween costumes only seem appropriate for specific cities. How you dress in Frankenstein, Missouri, is pretty well spelled out in the name. Bat Cave, North Carolina, gives you little choice beyond the caped crusader. And, of course, in Sleepy Hollow, New York, you must go headless.

New York state is home to the most Halloween-themed places in our list, which came from the Accuracy Project. New Yorkers have eight cities to choose from, followed closely by North Carolina with seven. Alabama, Louisiana , Michigan, and Tennessee each have five. But don’t fret, 40 states in all are represented, so unless you’re in Hawaii, you likely have one somewhat nearby.

The form to find your nearest place is a feature available with every BatchGeo map. You can use it to make a store locator map, or to find the nearest of any type of location on your map, spooky or not.

5 Steps to Become a BatchGeo Power User

You know BatchGeo as the fastest, easiest way to get your data visualized on a map. Many of your favorite features, such as map data groups, are automatic. There are a few tricks to get the most out of your data, specifically the stuff that shows up within the Marker Box that appears when someone clicks a place marker. This is where anyone using your map can get additional information about each location. You can set a title, re-order data, add images, and more. Master these advanced options and you’ll be well on your way to being a BatchGeo power user.

1. Set a Title for Your Marker Box

By default, the first item in your Info Box will be the full location that was used to geocode the place. Many times that will be what you want, but other times there is a more descriptive name in another field of your spreadsheet. You can designate this field as the title, which will list it in bold at the top of your Marker Box.

Add title to Marker Box

Choose Validate and Set Options to reveal your example Marker Box and the set of basic options. Then choose Show Advanced Options. The first in the list at the left is the Title option, which allows you to select any field, including location fields.

2. Re-order Your Data

BatchGeo intuits the order of your data from your spreadsheet. You have complete control over the order your data appears in the Marker Box by changing the order within your spreadsheet. The left-most columns will display first within the Marker Box and the right-most columns will show last. Of course, you can catapult one field to the front by setting it as your title, but the other field ordering will follow the spreadsheet.

To re-order your data, return to your spreadsheet. If you no longer have the spreadsheet, you can copy from BatchGeo. While editing your map, click into the map data and copy with Ctrl+C (Cmd+C on Mac). Then open an empty spreadsheet and paste with Ctrl+V (Cmd+V on Mac).

Choose the spot where you want to move your data and insert a new column. Then you can highlight and drag an entire column, or use Cut (Ctrl+X or Cmd+X on Mac) and paste. When your data is in the desired order, add it back into your existing BatchGeo map through the map data box.

3. Add an Image for Every Location

Your Marker Box can hold more than text, it can also display an image. To add an image to a location, you’ll need to make sure there is a field that contains a full URL to an image on the web. A full URL starts with the http:// or https:// and continues to include the domain name and path to an image file. For example, is a full URL. You’ll need to use your own image host, or point to someone else’s image with permission.

Add an image to Marker Box

Once you have a column in your spreadsheet containing URLs to images, you can Show Advanced Options to reveal the Image URL drop-down. Select your field and the Marker Box preview will show you how the first item looks with your image.

4. Add Supplemental Data with Links

Similar to the image field, you can also create a hyperlink to supplemental data, such as a website with more information about a location. Again, this will need to be a full URL added to an additional column in your spreadsheet. This can be a web page that you control or another, such as an official website or visitor review page. Just make sure it’s the full URL, including http:// or https://, as described in the image step.

Link to a page

The URL field under Advanced Options defaults to a Google Maps link, but you can make it any page on the Internet. Select the name of the column where you have the web URL in your spreadsheet and it will appear one of two places: if you have a title selected, it will now be clickable; otherwise, the link will display at the bottom of the Marker Box.

5. Scroll to Reveal Your List

This last step toward becoming a BatchGeo power user isn’t exactly related to the Marker Box, but it’s another way to see the same data. Every map with 500 or fewer locations comes complete with a list of every location for easy scrolling and searching. It works in full map view, as well as with your embedded maps. With your mouse cursor over any portion of the map, scroll the page with the keyboard, scroll wheel, or other mechanism. You have now revealed the entire list of locations.

Scroll to reveal your list

Everything available within the Marker Box is also displayed in this list. You can use your browser’s built-in Find option (usually Ctrl+F or Cmd+F on Mac) to search for keywords within the data, or just browse the list, which is displayed in your spreadsheet order. If you’re using the grouping feature, the list will be constrained to whatever is visible on the map. Even better, any map labels are also included in the list and each item is clickable, opening up the Marker Box to show the location on the map.

The list reveal can be enabled or disabled in the Render Method section when editing your map. Loading the Map Only is a little faster, but the Map + Data method gives you the searchable, scrollable list.

Of course, there’s plenty more than these five tips available to BatchGeo users. See how BatchGeo can help your business by uncovering the meaning behind your data.

Where Do Rich People Live?

Whenever the stock market fluctuates wildly in any direction you’ll read about people’s fortunes changing in a single day by what most of us will not make in a lifetime. Despite the wealth we can hardly understand, these billionaires do not each live on their own private island. In fact, most are in major cities around the world, often close to their business interests. The map below shows the hometowns of the world’s richest, according to the annual Forbes list.

View Cities with the Most Billionaires in a full screen map

This map may look a little different than the usual list you expect from Forbes. Where are Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Warren Buffett, and others? They live in cities that are otherwise unpopular with their fellow billionaires. In fact, Forbes notes that these 20 cities are home to more than one-third of the world’s billionaires. But that leaves 1,181 of the richest that live elsewhere.

Gates lives in the Seattle, Washington, area, which does not have the 14 other billionaires, so his hometown misses this map, as does Slim’s Mexico City, and Buffett’s Lincoln, Nebraska. The cities that do make this map are internationally recognizable, from New York City (#1, 78 billionaires) to Jakarta (#20, 15 billionaires).

New York is to be expected, long the center of the world’s financial markets. Its counterpart across the Atlantic, London, is #4, with 46 billionaires. Between the two are the emerging powerhouses of Moscow (68) and Hong Kong (64). Rounding out the top five is Beijing (45), nipping at London’s heals.

The representatives from those cities may be faces you’re less familiar with. Certainly the Koch brothers of New York are perennial top 10s. But have you heard of Murat Ülker? The owner of a Turkish food conglomerate, Ülker has a net worth of $4.4 billion and a Wikipedia page with a biography of fewer than 100 words.

Similarly, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz does not have the household name of Mark Zuckerberg, but Moskovitz is the richest person in San Francisco. Here is the full list of the top 20 cities that the rich call home, along with the most affluent resident.

Rank City Billionaires Richest Net worth Source
1 New York, New York 78 David Koch $42.9 B diversified
2 Moscow, Russia 68 Vladimir Potanin $15.4 B metals
3 Hong Kong 64 Li Ka-shing $33.3 B diversified
4 London, United Kingdom 46 Len Blavatnik $20.2 B diversified
5 Beijing, China 45 Wang Jianlin $24.2 B real estate
6 Mumbai, India 33 Mukesh Ambani $21 B petrochemicals, oil & gas
7 Seoul, South Korea 29 Lee Kun-Hee $11.3 B electronics/insurance
8 Istanbul, Turkey 28 Murat Ulker $4.4 B food manufacturing
9 Paris, France 27 Liliane Bettencourt & family $40.1 B L’Oreal
10 San Francisco, California 26 Dustin Moskovitz $7.9 B Facebook
11 Sao Paul, Brazil 25 Jorge Paulo Lemann $25 B beer
11 Shenzhen, China 25 Ma Huateng $16.1 B internet media
13 Taipei, Taiwan 24 Terry Gou $6.1 B electronics
14 Los Angeles, California 22 Patrick Soon-Shiong $12.2 B pharmaceuticals
14 Singapore 22 Robert & Philip Ng $9.6 B real estate
16 Shanghai, China 19 Tsai Eng-Meng $8.9 B food, beverages
17 Delhi, India 17 Shiv Nadar $14.8 B information technology
18 Dallas, Texas 16 Andrew Beal $11.7 B banks, real estate
18 Tokyo, Japan 16 Tadashi Yanai & family $20.2 B retail
20 Jakarta, Indonesia 15 Chairul Tanjung $4.3 B diversified

If you’d like to see the ways to visualize the data above on BatchGeo, you can create a map like the one above by simply copying the figures above into our map making tool. Or keep exploring money makers with this map of US incomes, though you’ll find those numbers a bit smaller than the billionaires discussed above.