We want you to get the most out of your uploaded data. By preparing data prior to upload, the mySidewalk system will be able to recognize and organize different aspects of your data. This allows mySidewalk to improve your search & selection experience. It also allows you to make a time series chart with your data. 

We accept 8 different file types and the following preparations can be done to any of the accepted file types. We recommend you use a single underscore "_" or space “ “ to separate the parts of your data column name.  

There are 2 pieces of metadata the mySidewalk data upload system can recognize:

  1. Time period (year, month, or day)
  2. Variable 

Time Period

Specifying the time period (year, month, day) in the column name allows the mySidewalk data upload system to recognize it as time period. This will not only lead to a cleaner data selection experience but will also enable you to make a time series chart!

  • Don't have a a day, month, or year associated with the data? No need to worry, it's optional. 
  • It works best if you put the time period at the beginning or end of a column name (i.e. ‘2010_population’ or ‘population_April_01_2020’)
  • Be sure to be consistent in how the time period is formatted. Changing between 'Jan 2010' and 'January 2010' will result in the system creating 2 different months
  • The data upload system currently only recognizes dates between January 1, 1900 and January 1, 2100.


Use a 4 digit year

  • i.e. 2010, 2020, 2050, 1961

Month: must include month and year

The following formats all work to specify the month January 2019.  

  • January_2019
  • 2019_January
  • January 2019
  • Jan 2019
  • 2019_01
  • 01 2019

Day: must include the day, month, and year

The following formats all work to specify the day June 30, 2019. 

  • 2019_06_30
  • 2019_June_30
  • 06_30_2019
  • June 30 2019


The second thing data upload can recognize is a variable, the name for the contained data. Population, households, total 311 calls, total crime, people with health insurance, and people in poverty are all examples of variables. 

  • Word use & spelling matters for the system to recognize the variable as the same thing (i.e. ‘2010_pop’ and ‘2020_population’ will be mapped as two different variables of 'pop' and 'population', respectively)
  • You can have multiple variables in the same layer (i.e. households, population, area, educational attainment, etc) 


  • 2010_population
  • 2015_population
  • 2020_population
  • people_in_poverty_2010
  • people_in_poverty_2015
  • people_in_poverty_2020

By repeating the name 'population' and 'people_in_poverty' with the 3 different years, the system will recognize 2 variables: 'population' and 'people_in_poverty' and then pair each of those with the 3 years: 2010, 2015, and 2020.  

Why does this matter? Well, it means in the selection experience, you will be given the option to choose between 2 variables 'population' or 'people_in_poverty' (rather than all 6) and then be able to choose between 3 years. It also means you will be able to view each variable in a time series chart.

Extra Credit: Grouping Time Periods

Taking the information above one step further, you can specify a group name for your years, months, or days using a double underscore "__" separator. The format would be time_period__group_name_for_time_periods__variable

  • January_2019__months__population
  • February_2019__months__population
  • 2018__years__employment_rate
  • 2019__years__employment_rate

The example above has the group of time periods 'months' specified for the variable 'population' and the group of time period 'years' specified for the variable 'employment_rate'

Check out the video below for further explanation of uploading your own user data.

Need additional assistance? Please message us on chat and let us know what's giving you trouble - we're here to help!

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