Not that it’s difficult, but it seemed like it might be useful to provide some instruction on how to get the most out of viewing the maps.

First, do it on a PC, MAC or a laptop — not on your phone. The interactive nature will be lost, and that’s a big piece of it.

Second, while it’s possible to root around on my TableauPublic profile, here, you’ll find the San Antonio map sets mixed in with lots of other work, so it’s just easier to use this site to navigate the set (250+ data maps in total). Everything available is indexed here.

Search by ZIP Code

On any map, feel free to use the search icon (see above) to punch in the ZIP Code you’re interested in, if you can’t locate it by sight.

Highlight ZIP Code Bar

Or, use the “Highlight ZIP Code” search function (or alternate item if you see it on a different map set) which allows you to either type in what you need or autocompletes as you type.

4 Pointed Cross

You can zoom in and out, using the “+” and “-” buttons as usual; and you can use the four-pointed cross with the arrows to drag the map area around, to center it on what interests you.

Expand to Full Screen

And you can use this icon in the lower right to expand to full screen, which is often useful to do. (Press “esc” to get it back to normal.)

The Tool Tip

Now for the fun stuff.

Cursor over any ZIP Code, particularly on the more elaborately built maps, and a “tool tip” jumps up, showing you multiple items at a glance about that one ZIP Code. Sometimes they’re thematic — like just educational items on an educational attainment map — or in the case of the facing page on this set,, literally most of the important elements, sorted in some sort of logical order.

The heart of the work, though, is the sliders — and the utility OF the sliders.

Let’s jump to a different map to check that out.

Here’s percent of the population living below the poverty level (a federal level, set annually, different for individuals and families by number of individuals).

Poverty Map

The setup will be duplicated on pretty much every “heat map” (where darker color equals greater concentration). Here, that familiar tilted T-shape, or broken T-shape, indicates the areas of highest poverty by percentage. The guide to the lower right shows you what range of percentages is being displayed. No ZIP Code is lower than 2.10 — and the highest is (gasp) 48.30! Always look to the lower right to find the range of values for any map.

The sliders are above it, running down the right hand side of the image. There are usually a few of them, and they’re often one map-specific one, followed by some other helpful ones. “Percent below poverty, educational attainment (percent of people 25+ who have achieved a high school diploma or a GED), median household income, and median per capita income show up on pretty much every map. They’re key metrics to keep in mind throughout.

Now how to use the sliders

Sliders let you take a look at several items at once and see their overlap or interplay.

7 Zip Codes for Poverty

Still on this same “percent below poverty” map, let’s say you also want to know what the overlap looks like with ZIP Codes where more than (gasp) 50 percent of the children are living below the poverty line. You simply adjust the slider for child poverty to between 50 and 75 percent. Voila — suddenly you see that there are 7 main ZIP Codes, still in that general tilted broken “T” shape, where overall poverty is high, and childhood poverty is especially high. (The labels on the ZIP Codes themselves refer to the map topic, so general poverty. There’s a child poverty map located just next door.)

Now let’s do something similar, on the map about single mothers living below the poverty level.

Single Mothers below Poverty for Instrux.png

The highlight in the bar above the map shows us which map we’re looking at, and the range to the bottom right shows us low to high percentages (or numbers, depending on the map) within the ZIP Codes.

Adjusting the View

Using the opposite idea to the last exercise — where are single mothers living in poverty, but where fewer than 50 percent of children are also living below the poverty line — adjust the sliders in the other in direction, and voila! Look what drops out! (The highest-hardship ZIP Codes, which no longer fit into those parameters.)


And you can do “multiple operations” at once.

Let’s say you want to see which ZIP Codes there are where there are a high number of single mothers living in poverty, but also a high level (50% or more) of children living in poverty, and where at least a third of seniors living in poverty? Adjust both children and seniors sliders and voila! One ZIP Code in particular emerges.

The slider concepts also work on bar charts throughout the series. Try them and see what you learn!

© Lily Casura, 2018. All rights reserved.