Welcome to our series on helpful tips for PolicyMap. With over 10,000 data indicators and many online features, we hope our series can help users better utilize PolicyMap. For a complete training, please join a free online session here: Click Here
Did you know, building a custom region in PolicyMap gives subscribers the ability to create their own unique areas on the map, and then build reports for those areas. Subscribers have always had the ability to draw a custom region right on top of the map; these custom regions can cross predefined geographic boundaries like census tracts, zip codes, and counties.
Users can draw a radius around an address or assemble a grouping of boundaries – like block groups, census tracts or zip codes – to create a custom region. To use these features, click the Create button on the bottom of the map and choose one of the three (3) types of custom regions: Drawn, Assembled, or Radius.
All saved custom regions will be available in the My Custom Region menu on the bottom of the map. Users can load custom regions, share regions, or even delete a custom region.
Draw Custom Region – This allows you to free draw a custom region right on top of the map. After selecting OK (read the instructions for details), your mouse pointer will appear as crosshairs. To begin drawing the boundaries of your desired region, click once on the map to create the corners of your custom region. The grey line that appears shows the boundary as you draw it. You can pan around the map by holding down the left mouse button while building a custom region or zoom in and out using the zoom bar on the left of the map. Close the custom region by clicking on the first point again. Once you close your custom region, enter a name and add an optional description in the dialogue box, then select Save. All saved custom regions will be available in your My Custom Regions below the map. If you make a mistake while drawing your region and want to start over, simply select the Cancel button from the bar along the bottom of the map, and then re-select Build Custom Region to begin again.
Assembled Custom Region – This gives you the ability to select and group geographies (e.g. census tracts, or zip codes) to create a custom region. After choosing Assembled Custom Region and selecting OK (read the instructions for details), the map will display the predefined geographic boundary for your current zoom level. You can change the boundary by choosing from the drop down menu in the “Select Areas on the Map By” window. To start, click within a boundary and the area will highlight. You will see the name of the highlighted boundary in the “Click Map to Assemble Region” window; continue to select other areas to assemble your custom region. To remove an area you already highlighted, click it again to deselect. Assembled custom regions can be non-contiguous.
When assembling a custom region, choose from the drop down menu in the Select Areas on the Map window to select the type of geography you want to use to assemble your custom region. If you change the geography, your custom region will clear and reset.
You can clear your current custom region and start over, or Save when complete.
NOTE: You cannot change the boundary type in the Select Areas pulldown while making a custom region. If you do, you will lose the custom region you are assembling.
Once you have selected the areas for your assembled custom region, select Save Region in the window, give your custom region a name, and select Save. All saved custom regions will be available in your My Custom Region menu.
Custom Region by Radius – This allows you to create a radius boundary. You can enter a specific address as the center of the radius or click on the map to identify the center. After choosing Radius Custom Region and selecting OK (read the instructions for details), you can enter an address in the “Specify Center of Radius”, specify the size of your radius and click GO.
Another unique option is to specify the size of the radius first and then click on the map to identify the center (you will see the latitude and longitude appear in the Specify Center box). This will draw a radius around the location selected on the map.
To save, give your radius a name and description and click “Save” or select “Cancel” to clear the custom region and start over. All saved custom regions will be available in your My Custom Regions menu.
NOTE: The radius custom region has no size limit. For users who need data for an area larger than the 10 mile limit in Reports, create a radius custom region first and then generate a report.
Custom Region Uses – There are a number of ways you can use Custom Regions in PolicyMap.
- In Maps: You can display saved custom regions by choosing your My Custom Regions menu on the bottom of the map. Once selected, the map will zoom to that location, display the boundary of your custom region, and highlight it in the drop down menu. You can view multiple custom regions on the map at once by selecting multiple regions from the list. To remove a region from the map, simply click on it from the list to deselect.
- In Tables: You can add a saved custom regions to the tables by choosing your My Custom Regions menu. Tables can give you aggregated values for some indicators for custom regions. If a value cannot be calculated for your custom region, the table will return a value of N/A and the option to See Value which will display data for the geographies in your custom region.
- In Reports: You can generate a report for a custom region by entering the reports page, selecting the report you would like to see and selecting a custom region from the My Custom Region menu.
Rules for Custom Regions – Custom regions can do a variety of things on PolicyMap and can be used in most features. Because of a custom region’s multifaceted use, we had to create some very unique rules for how a custom region can work.
- Assembled Custom Region Rules – Users have the ability to group together predefined boundaries to assemble a custom region by, so here are some rules how an assembled custom region is created and used in other areas of PolicyMap.
- The Geography Rule – The geography used to aggregate data for a custom region is determined by the size of the custom region, which in turn determines the zoom level the custom region displays at. On PolicyMap, we sometimes call this the GeoSteps.
- The 50% Rule – For a geography to be included in the aggregation of a report or table, PolicyMap has determined that at least 50% of a geography must be contained by a custom region boundary.
Be sure to check the links for each unique feature in the Custom Region Overview. If you have any questions or want to lean more, visit our training calendar and attend a free session or contact us at any time.
To read a full guide on all features on PolicyMap, please look at our Primer available here