Today’s Objective

Today we will learn about collecting and organizing data. The hope is that you will be able to gather the necessary information to make your map and organize it in order to upload and display it properly. Organizing your data also helps you with the design process and look of your map because if you have a lot of information, you need to know start thinking about how you will emphasize the most important aspects as it appears on your map.

Google My Maps will help with the practice of uploading and appreciation for the organization process. After all, Google My Maps likes to know how your information is bundled in order to modify it to fit the map.


  1. Brainstorm Project Ideas
  2. Data Collection
  3. Organizing Data
    1. Excel
    2. Map-friendly file types: CSV, KML, Conversions
  4. Google MyMaps
  5. Assign Homework #3


Data Collection

If you didn’t find an existing map that suits your needs, you will have to make one! After you have decided your purpose and goals, you need to assess the information that you need to collect in order to begin. Here are a few places you can start:

  • Primary Sources: Some times you have to collect information for your map layers whether it is for the basemap or the added layers (e.g. age, population, events, stories, incidents etc.)  because there is no previously existing data.
    • Example: Gather coordinates for locations, buildings etc. on your own
    • Example: Collect and record stories and other valuable qualitative research useful to your map
  • Other: I wanted to include other sources and tools that are necessary to create a map from scratch. Hopefully, you have already found mapping tools that have done this work for you:
    • Remote Sensing
      • Remote sensing is an overly technical term for using some method other than being physically present to gather data for creating a map. At it’s simplest, a photograph taken from a plane (or balloon in the olden days) could be used as data for a map. Modern remote sensing uses technologies like RADAR to map areas from satellite. The technology is very beneficial when it is necessary to collect data from dangerous or inaccessible areas.
    • Global Positioning System (GPS) 
      • In a gist, there are 24 satellites in orbit ready to determine your location using time and position information from that which transmits radio waves by reporting them back to the ground station as long as there is signal available. GPS is free and has the ability to be integrated into any type of application! Your phone like many other tech products out there, now have a GPS receiver integrated within it.
        • Example: For one of your mapping projects, you might find yourself collecting GPS derived coordinates for buildings, streets, and other reference points that have yet to be added to existing maps. For example, let us say that Open Street Map has images for  a certain location you are working in but it does not recognize an important location for a business, home, building, or tree (of which might have significance to your project or the community it is found in). This is when you might want to recognize the location, with its corresponding geo-coordinates, and add it to Open Street Map so that others can find it next time in their search. Check out this visual of GPS at work:


Organizing Your Data

Organizing your data is very important both when you collect it and when you display it. Sometimes both times are dependent upon each other. For example, some digital mapping tools may need you to organize your information in an excel sheet with labels or need your to convert your geo data.


Geocoding is the act of converting addresses to latitude and longitudinal coordinates. Certain mapping tools require you to geocode geographic data before automatically mapping the locations for you. Because you might not want to gather the latitude and longitude coordinates for hundreds of addresses, you need to find a converter to speed up the process.  Sometimes you will have to include this information to your Excel sheet when uploading data for your map (depends on your mapping tool). Here are some resources:


File Types: CSV, KML, Conversions...

Google MyMaps Engine

Essentially, Google Maps is a desktop and mobile web mapping service application and technology provided by Google, offering satellite imagery, street maps, and Street View perspectives, as well as functions such as a route planner for traveling by foot, car, bicycle (beta test), or with public transportation. Many of you have at used Google Maps at least once in your lifetime. Mostly to receive directions to a location or search for the nearest address of a service you need.
Google My Maps help you create custom maps to share and publish online.


  • Fast, easy, and it offers some customization options!
    • Draw – Add lines, shapes, or placemarks on the map.
    • Import – Add a CSV file, XLSX file, classic My Map, TSV, KML file, or sheet from Google Drive with geographically-specific data including addresses, place names, or lat/longs.
    • Layer – Hide or show different content to better understand your map.
    • Style – Make your point visually with different colors, placemark icons, and line widths.
  • Most importantly, you can share your map with others by embedding it on a website or sending the shareable link to another individual.
  • You can access your maps in the Google My Maps for Android app. However, you won’t be able to see them in the Google Maps for Android app or in the Google Earth iOS app.
  • The new My Maps upgraded your first 9 saved routes as separate, individual directions layers. You can’t add new directions layers once you’ve reached the limit.
  • You can import only one data file per layer; each file can have up to 2,000 points/rows.
  • Information or geographic data provided by the Google Maps website may be inaccurate, out of date, or not as detailed as other mapping tools
  • You cannot use HTML
  • Visit
  • Locate and click “My Maps” ( To directly visit it, click here.)
  • Click on “Create” —> then “Import”
  • Import a CSV file, XLSX file, classic My Map, TSV, KML file, or sheet from Google Drive with geographically-specific data including addresses, place names, or lat/longs.
  • Follow instructions for Placemarks and Markers
  • Think about what you are trying to communicate with your data, then customize the following to accomplish just that:
      • Name your map
      • Name your layer(s) to keep track of the multiple overlapping data sets
      • Choose color or shape of icon
      • Pick a organizing theme for your data: (Uniform Style Option, Sequence of Letters and Colors, Individual Styles, Styles by Data of Column)
      • Menu Bar Options:
        •  screenshot
        • Add additional markers if needed by clicking the place marker
        • Add lines or shapes
        • Draw Routes
        • Measure distance or areas
        • Add directions
        • Adding Pictures to markers
  •  Share Your Map
    • screenshot
    • Embed on website
    • Export to KML

Google MyMaps Example


Lesson #3 Homework assignment. Email in a document with the URL of your Google Map to plopezri at ucsc dot edu

4 points: Collect 10+ addresses on a CSV file/Google Sheets related to your project’s topic that supports a statement/theme/focus for the map you will create. (Think back to our brainstorming session).  If you cannot generate any ideas, use the data set linked here.

Think simple. Remember, Google My Maps does not offer great customization options.

Ex. addresses of after-school programs

Ex. Water Source Locations

Ex. Non-profits dedicated to your issue

Ex. Schools’ distance from a particular location
Ex. Percentage of youth/households time spent online across different zip code

1 point: Upload the CSV file on Google My Maps to create a map

1 points:  Customize your map (you must modify at least 3 features on the map).

1 points: Name the map, name your layers, provide a description, create a shareable link, then Download the KMZ file.

4 points: Presentation during class based on your description. Your description should explain the following:

  • Explain the goal for the data on your map
  • Explain the conscious choices in design and organization of your data
Extra Credit: Figure out why the Google My Maps does not display directions when it does go live on a website.