Technology Background

Webinar: Insights from Building Maps with a Spatial Database

Posted by Zack Schreiber, Enterprise Account Manager on May 2, 2016

Carto webinar slide“If you’re ready to transfer data from spreadsheets, forms and tables to an interactive map, you’ve come to the right place,” said Mike Sliwka, Geospatial Engineer at Onix and David Bryson, Solutions Engineer with CartoDB in a recent webinar.

Mike and David proceeded to walk the Directions Magazine audience through a few use cases to demonstrate how the CartoDB Editor allows users to easily create maps and uncover insights from their data. They demonstrated how a customer without IT or mapping skills creates internal maps to determine optimal retail sites, how mapping open data helps to visualize neighborhood demographics, and that visualizing even very large data sets is easy using a dynamic map.

The CartoDB platform transforms information into dynamic renderings, empowering users with easy-to-use location analysis. Watch the Directions Magazine webinar here.

Use Case #1: Empowering Business User Autonomy

A retailer who didn’t have the tools or an in-house IT department found a site selection tool that could be used by the current staff to help determine the best location for a new store.

Carto site selectionProximity to highways, population and income data were the primary factors that influenced their decision. Population and income data can be easily obtained from the Census Bureau, but it takes putting the data on a map as shown below to see how this data plays out. Using CartoDB, it took less than one hour to input the data and create the map. Metadata can be seen by mousing over map points. By dropping data like customer information and highest grossing locations into the CartoDB editor, the retailer could see the top prospective locations. This organization was sold on how beautifully the maps rendered — without any styling or programming. They continue using this tool for ongoing site analysis and selection.

CartoDB is an amazing tool, especially for someone who is not a programmer; he or she can analyze data in minutes! For this demonstration, Mike used Google Maps API, however CartoDB is compatible with a variety of mapping solutions.

Use Case #2: Using a Spatial Database to Map Open Data

Carto open dataPlenty of analysts out there are very familiar with open data. Using a spatial database such as, a user can take open data and build it out on a map. That data can be downloaded and simply dragged into the CartoDB editor. In this example, building permits were examined to look into investment opportunities in certain neighborhoods around Seattle. Applying the spatial join tool uncovered a whole new story; areas that weren’t being examined outside the city suddenly appeared as lucrative areas to pursue. All of this can be easily accomplished right through the web interface.

Use Case #3: Visualizing Very Large Data Sets is a Cinch With a Dynamic Map

Carto deep insightsDeep Insights is a tool that allows users to visualize very large datasets so they can view data in a different way. In this example, a cell phone provider wanted to target areas in New York City in a certain age and income range who were located near an existing retail store network. Rather than building a new store, they wanted to get customers and prospects they weren’t reaching into existing stores.

The map in this use case is a dynamic map; as you move around, the values on the right change to show the target area. Conversely, you can alter the tables on the right to change the map. For example, you can modify the income range you want to target which changes the map display. This powerful tool is built on free data that is part of the CartoDB data library. Deep Insights allows you to build the dashboard with the criteria you want.

CartoDB Synopsis

Carto overviewCartoDB is a SaaS solution that can be hosted on a platform such as Amazon cloud or on-premise behind the firewall for those who require a greater level of control. The spatial database is the “heart and soul” of CartoDB and a way of storing geospatial data such as points, lines, distances or boundary information. There are two avenues that allow you to look at the relationships between the data; Platform APIs and the CartoDB Editor.

Platform APIs consist of back-end and front-end APIs. They allow you to create maps on the fly and to select various styles and features as you go. The CartoDB Editor is the user interface. Users can load data, map it and share it, all through the Editor.


These three quick examples are just a few of the mapping needs common across many businesses and industries. This recap contains just some of the highlights of our recorded webinar now available for viewing on-demand. Access the webinar today.

This is an exciting time to be in the geospatial profession. Explore your world! All of this open data and easy to use apps such as CartoDB make it simpler than ever to get data and turn it into powerful insights. Go forth and map!

Topics: Maps & Location Based Services

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Zack Schreiber, Enterprise Account Manager

Zack Schreiber, Enterprise Account Manager

Zack is an Enterprise Sales Account Manager with Onix. He has more than five years of experience in communication, management and sales. He helps businesses adopt Google Cloud solutions and resides Lakewood, Ohio where Onix is headquartered.