Mapchats – The Art of Maps

Data is the key to maps. But show that data in a confusing, unattractive, or misleading way, and the power of your data is lost. Normally, Mapchats focus on using good data, but this time we focus on the nuts and bolts of making good maps.

PolicyMap’s popular Mapchats series continued 7/28/15 with a panel of leaders in online mapping, including Robert Cheetham from Azavea, Jake Garcia from Foundation Center, and PolicyMap’s own Bernie Langer. The topics of discussion include picking the right colors for a map, choosing the right map for the right data, and how to make a good map show change over time.

See each panelist and their presentation below:


art_of_the_map_panelists_bernieBERNIE LANGER | Data Analyst, PolicyMap

Bernie Langer is a Data Analyst at PolicyMap. He works on keeping PolicyMap’s data library current and simple to understand. Previously, he’s contributed to WHYY News, the Poughkeepsie Journal, and EARTH Magazine. An avid photographer, his work has appeared in various galleries in Philadelphia. He has a B.A. in economics from Vassar College, and is an M.F.A. candidate in creative writing at Rutgers University – Camden.



art_of_the_map_panelists_jakeJAKE GARCIA | Vice President for Data and Technology Strategy, Foundation Center

Jake Garcia is the Vice President for Data and Technology at Foundation Center, where he builds mapping applications, data visualizations, semantic analysis scripts, and application programming interfaces. He’s previously worked as a geographer and programmer on projects for NASA, Al Gore’s Climate Project, the City of New York, and the U.S. Army. In April 2011, Jake was the lead developer on a project that won the Large Organization award in the World Bank’s “Apps for Development” contest. He has an M.A. in geography from Hunter College and a B.A. in political science from Brown University.



art_of_the_map_panelists_robertROBERT CHEETHAM | Founder and President, Azavea

Robert Cheetham is the Founder and President of Azavea. Previously, he was a software developer and analyst for the Philadelphia Police Department, the University of Pennsylvania, and the City of Philadelphia, and a Coordinator for International Relations in Konan-cho, Japan. He is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, and is on the Advisory Board for the Masters of GIS Program at Pennsylvania State University. He has an M.L.A. in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan.

Below is a list of resources included in Robert’s presentation:


Analog: Trees and Branching Structures

Analog: Graphic Transition

Analog: Explicit Geography + Color + Annotation

Digital: Sequences on a Line

Digital: Thematic Overlay

Digital: Split Screens

Digital: Map + Chart

Digital: Map-based Storytelling Tools

Digital: Spatial-temporal forecasting (geography + time + statistics)


Train Schedule Example

Other Resources


To check out PolicyMap’s other Mapchats recordings, visit: