Want to Buy a House? Make an Open House Map

Buying a house can be an intense experience. Every hour of available time can go to searching, researching, driving by, and viewing potential purchases. Unlike other things you buy, there are no five star reviews or apples-to-apples price comparisons. That’s why visiting a home and neighborhood are so important. To simplify viewings, many listings have open houses, which means buyers plan their Saturday and Sunday afternoons around hour ranges found in real estate listings. Many BatchGeo users have discovered how much easier the planning can be with a geographic view of their chosen open houses.

View Open Houses This Weekend in a full screen map

Your real estate map starts with a spreadsheet you’re using to track your potential future homes. What you include may vary, but it’s likely to have the address, price, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. For open houses, you can separate out the timing into its own spreadsheet column. In the example map above, we can group by any of that data, which BatchGeo either shows as a range or unique values. Click a marker on the map and you’ll see all the data from the spreadsheet, including that open house timeframe.

Let’s see how you could create your own, how to skip the manual work, and look into a method you could use to simplify finding open houses while on the go.

Create a Real Estate Listings Spreadsheet

The modern real estate search includes looking at hundreds of listings on the web. You get new listings delivered to your inbox, and you scour search sites to find the neighborhoods and criteria you’re after. What do you do when you discover a potential choice? Before you see it, you need to track it.

For many, including BatchGeo users, the tracking happens in a spreadsheet. The header row includes the location columns, bedrooms, bathrooms, price, and open house times.

Real Estate spreadsheet

As you find the places you’re interested in seeing, just jot those pieces of info into a spreadsheet. If it’s worth the time to see, it’s worth the time to track in your spreadsheet. If it’s too much work, you may be able to use a site such as import.io to convert website searches into downloadable data.

Group by Open House Hours

You may find yourself desiring even more automation, with a solution that tells you exactly the order to see the houses during your tours. This turns out to be difficult or inefficient (what Computer Scientists call the Traveling Salesman Problem). However, the BatchGeo mobile maps features can help you determine where to go next while you’re out and about. All it takes is a little more setup in your spreadsheet.

View Open Houses, Filter by Times in a full screen map

The above map has the same locations as the first map in this post, but we’ve added another eight columns to the spreadsheet for the potential open house hours. We noted that our listings started no earlier than 10:00 a.m. and ended no later than 2:00 p.m. — four potential hours for showings on Saturday and another four on Sunday. If you find yourself ready to go to an open house at 1:17 p.m. on Saturday, just group the “Sa1” field with “Y” to see the four listings that are open during the one o’clock hour.

Real Estate open house time columns

It’s a little more up-front work, but it helps you be able to filter your map in the moment. Can you fit one more viewing in? That depends on how close the open house listings are, a question you can arrange your spreadsheet and map to answer.

Are you ready to use BatchGeo to find your next home (or perhaps wow your home buyer clients)? See how BatchGeo can help you with mapping solutions for real estate.

Make Political Canvassing Maps for Door-to-door Volunteers

For those enabling political change, there’s no better way than face-to-face, one-on-one interaction. That’s where door-to-door political canvassing comes in. No matter the candidate or the level of office, a well-organized approach will help you more efficiently approach the right voters. That’s where a voter map could come in handy. BatchGeo makes turning a spreadsheet into a map as easy as copy-paste.

In the United States we have national elections at least every two years and local elections at least once per year. The biggest elections come every four years when the US President is elected, along with all members of the House of Representatives and roughly one-third of the Senate. That is the case in 2016. Since all political canvassing is at a local level, location plays a large role. Let’s see how political volunteers could use a map of locations for door-to-door canvassing.

View Example Political Canvassing Map in a full screen map

The above map is purely fictional, but included as an example of what a pair of canvassers might use. Though the addresses are real (taken from business listings in Santa Monica, California), the names are from a Star Wars character name generator. Volunteers might split the work up by Zip code, as shown here, other fields, or some other means. Read on to see some ideas for how to group voters for easy canvassing.

But first, you need your own list to visit, hopefully with the names of real voters.

Gather Your List of Addresses

One way to canvass is to go truly door-to-door, reaching everyone in a neighborhood. A map might not be as useful in that case, though you could potentially plot demographic data on a map and use that to select neighborhoods. However, the most efficient method involves direct targeting of individuals at specific locations. In this case, a map would be extremely useful.

Before you create your map, you need a list of addresses. These are the voters you and other volunteers will visit. There are several methods you can use to obtain names and addresses:

  • Your candidate or cause’s donors
  • Public voter registration records
  • Donor list of complementary cause or candidate
  • Consumer direct mail company lists

Obviously, check your local laws that might restrict privacy or other aspects of targeting individuals in this manner.

Create a Map of Voters

Now that you have a list of addresses, it’s likely stored in a spreadsheet-like format, such as CSV, XLS (Excel), or tab-delimited. Or maybe you keep it stored in a Google Spreadsheet. Regardless of the format, it’s best to open the document in some sort of spreadsheet software so you can confirm it displays in rows and columns and includes a header row at the top. Those labels help BatchGeo inspect your data, make assumptions, and display the data back on the map.

Example voter data

With data like the above, you can simply highlight all the cells, copy with Ctrl+C (Cmd+C on Mac), then paste into BatchGeo’s data box using Ctrl+V (Cmd+V on Mac).

BatchGeo makes some guesses about address, city, state, and postal code fields. You can click Validate & Set Options to check or correct these assumptions. Then map and our fast, accurate geocoder will convert every row of your spreadsheet into markers on your map.

Once you’ve saved your map, you can share any non-private map with everyone on your team by copying the URL. Private maps and more secure sharing is only available to Pro accounts.

Armed with their mobile-optimized voter maps, your volunteers are ready to hit the streets. Here are some ideas of how they might use the voter maps.

Group Voters by Zip Code or City

In many areas, your voters will be across multiple postal codes or even cities. If that is the case, you can use the BatchGeo grouping functionality to filter by unique values in that field. For example, you may have voters across six different Zip codes. Assign each volunteer one or more Zip codes and send them a link to your map.

Each volunteer can then choose Zip code in the grouping menu in the lower left. When they select their Zip code, the map will quickly filter to only the chosen Zip code. Choose a second Zip code and it will be added to the group that is displayed.

You can use this method to group by city or any field in your spreadsheet.

Group Voters by Volunteer

An alternative to assigning by region labels is to assign by volunteer in your spreadsheet. Simply add a new column to your spreadsheet called “Volunteer” and add the name of a volunteer for each row. When you paste your data into BatchGeo, it will make the volunteer name a grouping option.

You can use this method of pre-assigning records to spread the work equally between volunteers. Pre-assigning also simplifies what the volunteer needs to remember. Most people remember their name, while memorizing a list of Zip codes is much harder.

Group Voters by Last Name

Another way you could split up the efforts is to use alphabetical ranges by last name. For example, one person takes anyone whose names starts with A-M, the other takes N-Z. This is another circumstance where you need to add another column to your spreadsheet. However, in this case a spreadsheet can do most of the work for you.

Create a new column called “Alpha Range.” In the second row (just below the header), add the following formula:

=IF(CODE(UPPER(LEFT(B2, 1))) < CODE("N"), "A-M", "N-Z")

The formula assumes that the Last Name is in the B column, so adjust as necessary. Everything else should work for the example name ranges. If it's right for the first row, copy the cell and paste it for each additional row. The formula will update for the current row.

Now Go Ring Some Doorbells

Now you should have your list of voters, plan for how to group them, and a map displaying their locations. The only thing left to do is share the map with your team of volunteers and start going door to door. Get started with BatchGeo for free now.

Burn Rubber to These Michelin Three Star Restaurants

For over 100 years, a well known tire manufacturer has been publishing a list of restaurants around the world. A spot in The Michelin Red Guide is an honor to any restaurateur. The truly coveted accolades are the Michelin stars. Unlike the four and five star norm of movie critics or online product reviews, Michelin stars only go to three.

With millions of restaurants in the world, being a three Michelin star restaurant is incredibly rare. We’ve mapped the current recipients of the Guides highest honor, the 118 Three Star restaurants in the world.

View 3 Star Michelin Restaurants Worldwide in a full screen map

New Bedford Sea ScallopWhile the guide does not cover every region, its rankings still give an idea of culinary hot spots. Japan leads the way, its 29 three star restaurants the most of any other country. France, where the guide started in 1900, is second with 25 top-rated restaurants. The United States (14), Germany (11), Italy and Spain (tied with eight each) round our the top five.

London and New York may think they’re battling for top culinary city, but quantitatively it’s Tokyo and Paris. These two cities have more Michelin three star restaurants (10 each) than most countries covered in the Guide. Other top cities include Kyoto, Hong Kong, and New York, all with six restaurants on the list. London has only two (the entire United Kingdom only has four).

Unlike other awards like Oscars, it’s not as clear who becomes the recipient of the Michelin stars. Famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay boast having received more than 20, though some of those restaurants have had stars removed over the years. Celebrity chefs often go on to own many more restaurants than they can oversee as chef. Even at Ramsay’s eponymous three star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, the current chef is Clare Smyth.

The French Laundry

That said, there are three people considered the head chefs of multiple three star Michelin restaurants:

  1. Alain Ducasse helms three restaurants in three different countries: Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Monaco; Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London; Plaza Athénée in Paris.
  2. Thomas Keller in the US has top restaurants on both coasts: The French Laundry in Yountville, California; Per Se in New York City.
  3. Masahiro Yoshitake has Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo and Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong, the latter shared with Yoshiharu Kakinuma.

Michelin Guides 1911 and 2006

The Michelin Red Guide that contains these famed stars is published by the Michelin tire company. When cars were still very new, the Michelin brothers who founded the company wanted a way to encourage more driving. If drivers used their cars more, they would need to change the tires more often. Thus, the Guides contained great restaurants all over France, in addition to guides for hotels and other attractions.

Fast forward over 100 years and, as you’ve seen, these guides have become a respected voice in fine dining. Anonymous food critics, many not known even to Michelin employees, determine the fate of these top restaurants. To earn three stars requires a herculean effort, but then the restauranteurs must maintain the rating. At least 40 three star restaurants have lost one or more stars.

Create your own map now. Don’t have your own spreadsheet? Learn how to map open data and tables you find on Wikipedia.

Happy Birthday Hawaii: Your Landmarks Mapped

Hawaii is one of the smallest of the United States and the most recent to join the union. Despite its size and age, there is a lot of history on this collection of islands thousands of miles from the rest of the US. With the state celebrating a birthday in August, we thought it made sense to look at some of its historical landmarks. Think of it like a sunny, beach vacation without the sun and with only photos of the beach. And the vacation will only last as long as it takes to read this post, unless you have a really good imagination.

View National Historic Landmarks of Hawaii in a full screen map

Honokohau beach with templeMany of the landmarks celebrate the heritage of Hawaii long before Captain Cook ever discovered the islands. For example, the beach in this photograph includes an ancient Hawaiian temple reconstructed at the Honokohau National Historic Landmark on the Big island of Hawaii. There are two other temples, or heiaus, to the North of Honokohau, including Mookini, which dates back over 1,500 years.

The Big Island has seven landmarks. In addition to the heiaus, there’s the final residence of Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian islands; an ancient quarry along the dormant volcano Mauna Kea; an early settlement that also stands as the southernmost place in the United States; and the remains of Keauhou Holua Slide, a toboggan-like course originally over 4,000 feet long, which was used by the nobles of ancient Hawaii.

By far the most landmarks are on the state’s most populous island. Oahu has 16 of the 33 National Historic Landmarks. Of those 16, more than half commemorate the Pearl Harbor attacks of December 7, 1941, which precipitated the US entry into World War II.

USS UtahBatchGeo’s grouping feature allows easy filtering to show exactly the data you want to see. Try this:

  1. In the lower left of the map, select Island from the drop-down
  2. Click O’ahu from the list of islands to show only the markers from that island
  3. Now select Area from the drop-down and the marker colors change to show the underlying data, which makes it easy to visually see how many sites are related to Pearl Harbor
  4. Finally, click Pearl Harbor to display only those markers associated with the 1941 attack

Most of these are bunched in the actual harbor, including the battleships sunk by Japanese weapons. Two of these are airfields the Japanese attacked first in order to gain air superiority. The other, way to the North of the island, is the first radar site used by the United States during wartime.

In addition to Oahu and the Big Island, another six are scattered around Maui and its nearby islands, plus three sites are on Kaua’i. Over half of the sites were registered on December 29, 1962, just over three years into Hawaii’s life as a state. The most recent was added in 2007, the home of Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian kingdom.

Keep your Hawaiian vacation going: in addition to these 33 National Historic Landmarks, Hawaii has two World Heritage Sites, and shows up on USA Today’s New Seven Wonders of the World.

Flashcard Maps: Learn US State Capitals, Flowers, and Birds

Students in primary school all over learn geography. In the United States, one common practice is to memorize state capitals. Though many of us forget them, it’s never too late to re-learn your geography. Let BatchGeo help you with this flash card map—or make your own. In addition to capitals, we’ve included state flowers and birds, so those who already remember capitals can have something new to learn.

View State Capitals Flash Cards in a full screen map

Those outside the U.S., or anyone who doesn’t card about northern cardinals and white prairie roses, can easily make their own geography flashcards using BatchGeo. We’ll show you how below.

First, let’s see how this flashcard map works. Zoom in and identify a state (that’s another geography quiz, though Google Maps gives you hints with labels). Click the marker over the state—we put them at the geographic center so as not to let city labels give away the capital. You’ll activate an info box above the marker with the answer.

To test yourself on the bird for that state, click the right arrow near the bottom of the info box. Click the arrow again for the state’s flower. The video above shows the flash cards in action, as well as a way to filter out one of the tests using the grouping functionality that comes with every BatchGeo map.

If you’re a guesser, here’s how to increase your odds:

  • For southern states, choose northern mockingbirds—northern is relative and fives states share this bird.
  • For more northern states, but not New England, go for the northern cardinal, the top choice with seven states claiming this red bird.
  • For those west of the Mississippi River, you’re best guessing the western meadowlark, the official bird of six states.

As for flowers, you’re on your own, but these are claimed by at least two states: violet (3), apple blossom, mountain laurel, wild prairie rose, goldenrod, and magnolia.

The tradition of a state flower appears to be older than choosing a state bird. The oldest state flower is Washington’s Coast rhododendron, established in 1892, just three years after Washington became a state. Six other states added official flowers before 1900. By contrast, over half of the states already had state flowers when state birds became a thing. The earliest state bird was in 1927, when seven states added official birds.

How to Make Your Own Geography Flashcards

Example spreadsheetAre you ready to make your own flashcard map? Whether for testing yourself, your kids, or your students, these are fun and easy to make. To start, all you need is a spreadsheet with a geographic location (country, state, or city name) and a column for at least one answer. Optionally, you can also include an image URL to help visual thinkers commit the answer to memory. See our power user tips to learn how to add images and more.

Now simply highlight every row/column of your spreadsheet (remember the header row!) and paste it into the big data box on the BatchGeo home page.

If you’d like to see how we created multiple categories in a single map, feel free to view the spreadsheet we used. For ideas on finding or preparing your data, be sure to check out our open data mapping guide.