Mapchats Webinar: Pushing Boundaries: Cartography and Shaping Maps

Miss the webinar? You’re in luck. You can watch the full webinar recording and view each presenter’s slides below.

Ever wonder how census tracts are drawn? Or what school district boundaries can tell you about where you are? What happens when a city grows outward?

We spend a lot of time mapping data to census tracts, counties, school districts, and other boundaries. But where do these boundaries come from? How these areas are drawn can have significant effects on the data that appears in them.

In this Mapchats webinar, we talk to some bona fide cartographers, Michael Ratcliffe from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Geography Division, and Douglas Geverdt from the National Center for Education Statistics. They discuss the process of developing map boundaries, and the moderator, PolicyMap’s Bernie Langer, talks about how PolicyMap manages its geographic library.

Michael Ratcliffe

Asst. Division Chief, Geographic Standards, Criteria, Research, and Quality — Geography Division

U.S. Census Bureau

Michael Ratcliffe is Assistant Division Chief for Geographic Standards, Criteria, Research, and Quality in the Census Bureau’s Geography Division, where he is responsible for geographic area concepts and criteria; address and geospatial data quality; and research activities. During his 26-year career at the Census Bureau, he has worked in both Geography and Population Divisions, on a variety of geographic area programs, including census designated places, urban and rural areas, and metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas. In addition to his geographic area work, he leads staff in development of in-office methods for assuring the accuracy and completeness of the Census Bureau’s Master Address File. Mr. Ratcliffe holds degrees in geography from the University of Maryland and University of Oxford.

Douglas Geverdt

Statistician — Administrative Data Division

National Center for Education Statistics

Doug Geverdt is the Program Director of the National Center for Education Statistics’ Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates Program (EDGE), an initiative that develops information resources about the social and spatial context of education. The EDGE program uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to create custom indicators of social, economic, and housing conditions for school-age children and their parents. It also uses spatial data collected by NCES and the Census Bureau to create geographic locale indicators, school point locations, school district boundaries, and other types of educational geography to support spatial analysis. Before joining NCES in 2015, Doug previously worked at the U.S. Census Bureau where he developed geodemographic data products to support statistical and statutory programs at the U.S. Department of Education. He received a PhD in Educational Foundations and Policy from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), and regularly evangelizes about the benefits of using GIS and spatial perspectives to better understand educational policies and programs.