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BIOL 1309: The Nature of Cancer

Using & Accessing PolicyMap


PolicyMap is an online data and mapping tool that enables government, commercial, non-profit and academic institutions to access data about communities and markets across the US.

PolicyMap focuses on social issues and contains data sets that can be added, layered and compared. Data sets include a variety of demographic breakdowns, along with a variety of other data sets including income, housing, quality of life, economics, education, and health. You can use it to create maps of specific areas with education data, such as % of students in poverty, graduation rates, etc.

The library's subscription to PolicyMap allows you to access the data sets provided, create layered maps, add your own data sets, download data and save and print your map. You will need to create a login account for PolicyMap in order to access your saved data and maps for later use. 

Importing External GIS Data Sources into PolicyMap

PolicyMap has data sources and data points built right into the application, and includes cancer data, health information and a variety of demographic data options that should meet the needs of most students.

If you would like to add data to PolicyMap from an outside source be aware that it will need to be “cleaned” with the appropriate geolocation information.  Spreadsheet data must contain columns containing labeled fields using the actual words “Address”, “City”, “State”, and “Zip Code”, or latitude and longitude coordinates in decimal format only. Also, files must be saved as CSV (comma delimited). Please refer to the following information below or access the PolicyMap help guide for complete instructions on setting up your import data files.

Requirements for Importing

  • Address – This primary address column should contain only the street number and full street name including St., Blvd., etc., and any directional information such as N, S, NE, etc. Do not include unit or apartment numbers in this column.
  • Address2 – If the address has an apartment, suite, or unit number, put it in this column. This does not have an effect on geocoding and can be displayed for the address later.
  • City – City name.
  • State – Standard state postal abbreviation.
  • Zip code – 5-digit zip code. At this time, we cannot locate points on a map using the zip+4.
  • Latitude & Longitude – If you happen to already have the geocoded information for an address(es), the coordinates must be in decimal format not minutes and seconds.

Limitations for Importing

  • Files cannot have more than 10,000 rows (9,999 addresses and 1 header)
  • Files cannot have more than 45 columns of data
  • Header columns can have up to 50 characters 
  • Text Fields can have up to 250 characters
  • Must be in CSV Format

External Data Sources

National Cancer Institute – GIS Portal for Cancer Research
Data includes information on cancer surveillance, behavioral risk factors, environmental exposure, locations on medical services, and a variety of other datasets.

HRSA (Health Resources & Services Administration) Data Warehouse – Data Portal
The HRSA Data Portal enables users to select related datasets to create custom data views. Once a dataset has been created, users can export the data in Excel or CSV format, and view data using the Map Tool option.

DATA.GOV – U.S. Government’s Open Data
Several hundred thousand open access data sets are included in the Government's Open Data Catalog. The catalog is searchable and includes a wide variety of topics.

ArcGIS Hub – Open Data
Thousands of open access data sets shared by users are available to search, view and download.