Monthly Archives: April 2019

Discover QGIS 3.x – A Workbook for Classroom or Independent Study

Today Discover QGIS 3.x was published by Locate Press. Authored by Community Health Mapper Kurt Menke, this is an update of the original title, using QGIS v3.6 and covering spatial analysis, data management, and cartography. It is designed to teach mapping and GIS using QGIS. As such it begins with basics. It is a comprehensive up-to-date workbook built for both the classroom and professionals looking to build their skills.

It is designed to take advantage of the latest QGIS features, and will guide you in improving your maps and analysis.

The book is a complete resource and includes:

  • Lab exercises
  • Challenge exercises
  • All data, discussion questions, and solutions

What’s new in this edition:

  • Updated to QGIS 3.6
  • Fifteen new exercises
  • A new section, Advanced Data Visualization, covering:
    • Blending modes
    • Live layer effects
    • Geometry generators
    • Rendering Points
    • Time Manager
    • Native 3D
    • Mesh data
  • Appendices covering:
    • Keyboard shortcuts
    • Useful Plugins
    • Getting involved

To see what’s included in the book, download the Table of Contents (PDF). Discover QGIS 3.x is available in color as an ebook or paper back.

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The Basics of Using MapBox Studio for Web Mapping

MapBox is a very popular web mapping platform used by many social networking apps and news outlets. It includes a very powerful set of tools and comes with a modest pricing scheme.  The amount you pay depends on the web traffic your site receives, for many this will be next to free. As such this can be a great alternative way to publish interactive maps.

Uploading Data

If you have collected data using Fulcrum you will want to export that as a GeoJSON file.

geoJSONexport

To start you can create a free account at https://www.mapbox.com/.  Once logged in click on the Products menu, choose Studio. From there click the Get started link.  From your Studio dashboard click on Datasets.

  • Click the New Dataset button
  • Select Upload  
  • Drag your GeoJSON file onto the form and click Confirm and Create
  • After it has finished uploading click Start editing. The data editor will open and your points will be displayed on a dark basemap. Next you will export your data to something called a tileset. Web maps are composed of tiles for each zoom level. During this next step MapBox will generate all the map tiles for your dataset.
  • Click the Export button and select Export to a new tileset.
  • Name your tileset and click Export.
  • It will process your data. When it has finished click on the dataset name to return to your Datasets on your Studio dashboard.

MBUploadDataset

Creating a Style

Now that you have uploaded your data you will learn about map Styles. Click on the Styles link on the top row of your dashboard.

  • Click the New style button
  • Choose an existing style such as Basic Template and click the Create button.
  • The style template will open. You can rename it from Basic Template to something more meaningful. Here the style has been renamed to Demo.
  • Next search for your area of interest in the white box to the right. In the example below I have searched for Ann Arbor, Michigan and then zoomed in a little closer to the data collection area.
  • You can customize the styling for any and all of the layers that make up this template. Here I am darkening the brown used for buildings a bit. To do this I clicked on Buildings and changed the color with the color widget.
  • Once you have made the changes you desire click the Publish button. Click Publish again and you have created your own basemap style.

MBCreateNewStyle

Adding a Layer to Your Map

Now you can add your tileset to your map style. Click the Add Layer button and choose the tileset you created.

 

MBAddLayer

Styling Points

Once the layer has been added click on the Style tab of the layer. Next you will learn to give each type of Infrastructure it’s own point color.

  • Select the Color component
  • Click on Style with data conditions
  • The popup box for Choose a data field window opens. In this case the field is named Infrastructure so I begin typing Inf to more quickly locate the field. When you have found the field containing the categories for mapping, select it.
  • A Set values for box window opens. Select the first value e.g., Bench. The Data field will now read: Data field Infrastructure is Bench. Select the color for that item.
  • In the Set values for box window select the next item e.g., Sign and assign a color.
  • Continue until you have assigned colors to each value.

MBpointsdifferentcolors

Creating pop up windows takes a little more work. You can read the MapBox tutorial for that here.

Publishing a Map

  • When you are ready to share your map click the Publish button.
  • In the window that opens click Publish again and you Style will be published again and a url to your map will be provided.
  • You can also change the permissions here, and if you do you will receive a Success message.
  • When finished close the window.
  • Then click the Share button. You are given a url on the Share tab and a code snippet on the Use tab. The code snippet can be copied and pasted into a website to embed your map.

MBPublish

This is just a basic primer for getting started with MapBox Studio. There is a lot you can do with this platform. You can find more tutorials here.

Community Health Maps in Michigan: Four Workshops in Four Days in Four Cities!

This past week Kurt Menke traveled to Michigan and taught four Community Health Maps workshops for the University of Michigan. These were organized by the University of Michigan Libraries and were done in four days on four different campuses: Ann Arbor, Flint, Detroit Center and Dearborn. These workshops were part of the Community Health Maps project and were funded by the National Library of Medicine (funding for the workshops was provided under a sub-award from the National Library of Medicine to ICF International)

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A map showing the four workshops and the route taken between them.

Due to great outreach by the University of Michigan team of – Tyler Nix, Marisa Conte, Alexa Rivera, Justin Schell, Sara McDonnell, Troy Rosencrants, Kui-Bin Im and Claudia Walters – the workshops had great attendance and ran like clockwork.

The first was held at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor at the Hatcher Graduate Library.  Twenty eight people attended. The audience was mainly a mix of faculty and representatives of local public health/community organizations with a few students. The final hour was reserved for group discussion and Justin Schell did a fantastic job moderating. Ideas for mapping park safety and identifying underserved populations were discussed as projects where mapping could help.

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Participants at the Ann Arbor workshop

The second was held the following day at the UM Flint. We started in the University Center Happenings Room and moved to Thompson Library for the afternoon QGIS session. Forty five people came out for this second training, quite a bit more than we expected. This included some walk-ins and late registrants. In addition to faculty and students there were quite a few representatives from local county health departments and non-profits.

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UM – Flint workshop participants working on QGIS.

The third was held at the UM Detroit Center on April 4th. Thirty people registered for this workshop. This was probably the most diverse group including some UM faculty, plus Wayne State faculty, county public health staff (including some as far away as Saginaw County) and non-profit public health workers.

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Kurt Menke describing Help Resources at the Detroit Center

The fourth was held at UM Dearborn on April 5th. This was the smallest of the four with 20 registrants. However, this allowed us to get a little farther into the capabilities of QGIS.

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Data collection at the UM Dearborn campus.

One of the most helpful components was a web page Marisa Conte set up for the workshops. It initially had all the important details for each workshop, including driving directions, links to the slides and workshop data. This alone set a new standard for workshop outreach and organization. During the discussion on the first day she began adding url’s for sites containing useful data and other resources identified during the afternoon discussion. During the week this  evolved into what is now a fantastic resource for everyone who attended. This will be helpful to anyone implementing CHM related projects or those who weren’t able to attend.

For the week  123 people were trained in Community Health Maps! This is a record that may never be broken. However what came out of the week more than the numbers, is the incredible potential for projects that can make a real difference in these communities. I’m looking forward to working more with everyone I met. Thanks again to UM Michigan for organizing such a successful series of workshops.