Tag Archives: Google Drive

Creating Google Maps from Postcode Data

Following the recent merger of the Career Development Divisions with local CILIP Branches I am now the Communications Officer for the West Midlands Members Network. In our first committee meeting it was suggested that instead of a big summer social, which was a long-standing tradition of the CDG WM group, we could hold smaller socials across the region to help us promote the new Regional Member’s Network. We asked CILIP for a list of our member’s postcodes which they very helpfully provided, however this left me with a list over 700 postcodes with no other way to determine where these members might be living (the rest of the address data had been removed).

I used the starting letters of the postcodes to give us a rough breakdown, but this wasn’t very specific and in some cases a bit misleading (some postcodes are to the nearest major town, even if it’s across the county border). Obviously a map would be the easiest way to see, at a glance, where our members are all located – and therefore help us pick which towns to focus our social events in.

Having previously played with – I mean done some web development work with – Google Maps as part of my Masters course I knew it was possible to plot multiple points on a Google map, but it had been several years since I studied and decided that a quick Google search would be more helpful than hunting out my old notes! I very quickly found this article: http://www.ictcool.com/2011/09/19/how-to-plot-multiple-uk-addresses-by-postcode-on-a-google-map/ which makes use of a Google Docs feature called Fusion Tables. This feature is, very helpfully, still available in the new look Google Drive, but as some of the buttons have moved a little I thought it might be worth a blog post to help others who are trying to do this!

1. Open http://drive.google.com and select ‘Create’ on the red button on the left

2. Select ‘Connect more apps’ and select Fusion Tables from the (many) options (I used the search feature!) If you have used Fusion Tables before they will appear in the shortlist under ‘Create’ in future.

3. If your data is currently in a spreadsheet you can import it from this initial screen:

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Or you can build your table from a Google Spreadsheet or from an empty table.

4. You will be taken through a setup process to convert the Excel spreadsheet into a Fusion Table. One to confirm if the column titles are in the spreadsheet and another to name the Table.

5. You will then see this:

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Which is your Table! I’m using the postcodes of some local public libraries for this example – but you could use any postcode or address data.

7. On the column showing the data you want to map (either Postcodes or Long./Lat. data) click the drop down option and select ‘Change’:

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8. Change the data type to Location (as opposed to Text or Number):

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9. Then select File > Geocode for the Fusion Table to process the data:

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This will obviously take a while if you have a lot of data! I can’t remember how long it took to process the 700+ records I mapped for WMMN, but it didn’t take a massive amount of time!

10. Then open a new tab. Select the ‘+’ tab and then ‘Add Map’:

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(I’m not sure why it’s highlighted my data – it’s certainly not a necessary step!)

11. Select which Location Data column you want to use for your map:

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12. There’s your map!

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As with any Google map you can zoom and move around the map – and you can share the document with other people the same way you can any Google Drive document.

If you want to embed the map on a webpage you can publish the map using the drop down on the ‘Map 1’ tab:

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Which will give you embed codes to add to your website:

The Content Management System that CILIP uses currently prevents me from embedding the WMMN Member’s Map on our webpages, although it’s hoped an upcoming software upgrade will allow this. I have temporarily uploaded a screenshot of the map as an image, but for the WMMN Committee to use it’s fine to just share the document for now!

I hope you have found the article interesting, if not useful. It seems like a lot of steps, but it’s actually very easy – I did the above example a few weeks after reading the instructions and without looking at the original article for prompts!

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Thing 13: Google Drive, Wikis and Dropbox

Dropbox

An old friend made the suggestion a few months ago to use Dropbox to back up important files instead of a memory stick. Admittedly he may have been angling for the extra storage space he received by suggesting it to me, but it makes sense to keep these things off the computer. In Thing 9 I mentioned a friend who lost both his University assignment and the back up file on his USB when his computer crashed and took out the USB pen with it – having a copy online would have saved him a lot of typing!

I don’t use Dropbox as much as I probably should – but it’s so easy to drag and drop files in the folder on my desktop which then syncs with the online drive. I can then access these files from the website, although annoyingly it’s blocked on our NHS network so I can’t use it for work documents. I haven’t had a need to share documents on there, but I have played with it a little and getting the URL link is literally as easy as pressing a button (or two).

Wikis

I haven’t done much posting to Wikis, but that’s about to change – a workgroup I’m in with the Regional Trainers Forum is setting one up for us to share documents to save us emailing them back and forth (some were quite big and took up nearly all of my inbox!) I’ll probably add a bit more to this post when I’ve had a go with it!

My Library has an invite only WordPress Blog that we refer to as our wiki. We share an LMS with another local Trust so we don’t have access to a Shared Drive to store related documents on. It’s really simple to upload documents and link to them on a page to make browsing easy and we use the blog to share notes from training sessions and conferences that we’ve attended. I think if we were to re-do, or overhaul, the site we would probably go with a proper wiki page, just for ease of use, but it works very well for it’s purpose.

Google Drive sounds like a really useful tool – and I can see possible uses for me with my voluntary work, as well as for inter library collaboration. It seems very similar to a wiki – although I imagine its easier for a small or early stage project as you probably have less things (like home/web pages etc) to set up, just log in and off you go. Next time people start emailing documents back and forth I might suggest this and see how much easier it makes things!

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