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Data and Mapping Website Expands With New Tools

PolicyMap aims to make its Web-based platform a comprehensive system for loading and sharing data.

by / December 3, 2010

PolicyMap, a popular Web-based data and mapping application with more than 1,000 government users, has added new features intended to streamline data uploading and interpret it with analytics.

A data uploader, an application programming interface (API), a widget embedding function and an analytics tool were recently added to PolicyMap, which offers more than 10,000 indicators such as demographics, education, crime, health, real estate, mortgage finance, vacancy, transit and school performance. The data is gleaned from public and private sources.

Governments use the website for to generate maps, identify trends, compare communities and other analytical functions.

“It is our goal over the next six to eight months to really make PolicyMap a platform for loading and sharing data, whether it’s sharing it with the public or sharing it with others in your agency,” said Maggie McCullough, PolicyMap’s director.

With the data uploader — a cloud-based application —government agencies and other users can input their own information such as addresses into PolicyMap.

Before launching the data uploader, agencies had to submit spreadsheets and wait for PolicyMap to upload the information to the site, McCullough said. With the new tool, agencies no longer have to wait to have their information uploaded.

Annie Clark, policy director of the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, said the agency uploads data on home delinquencies that have occurred in the state, which is then mapped on the application. The agency then uses the information when requesting money from the federal government.

“We use the information to help us build our case when we are requesting money,” Clark said.  “And we also use the data to help make decisions when people are requesting dollars from us.”

McCullough said some of the data on the site is public information, which anyone can access. Agencies have the option of using the site for free, but features are limited. Private data can only be accessed through a subscription — via a standard or premium pricing model

Public- and private-sector users can subscribe to the site for access to the new tools by choosing the new premium subscription option, McCullough said. By selecting this subscription, up to five users have access to the new tools minus the data API for a cost of $5,000 a year.

The price of accessing the data API tool depends on the amount of traffic coming to a government’s website, whether the site is open to the public and the amount of data to be licensed, McCullough said. The data loader is also available to standard subscribers for $2,000 a year.

McCullough said PolicyMap also purchases private data such as school performance and home sale data from third-party vendors, but any public data is made available for free on the site. The next set of expansions that users will see over the next few months is more data-uploading capacity.


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Sarah Rich

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. She wrote for for Government Technology magazine from 2010 through 2013.

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