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2021 Product Updates: Features & Enhancements
2021 Product Updates: Features & Enhancements

Features released in 2021

Jennifer Funk avatar
Written by Jennifer Funk
Updated over a week ago

December 2021

New UX Improvements

View data source names, find product help, and smoothly georeference data.

We know that sometimes it’s the little things that make or break your experience when you're trying to get something done, so we're happy to have implemented new UX enhancements based on your feedback:

  • Updated Data Source filters now display the entire data source name in the data selection screen (below). Being able to read the entire source is helpful, especially when they start with similar letters. (Tip: Using other filters alongside keywords can help narrow data choices to a more reasonable set.)

  • We lightened up the header bar by consolidating the help options. Click that question mark icon to see all of the help options you have always had!

We also updated the Georeference experience to allow special characters when uploading. This should make things a lot easier when you know mySidewalk already has the shape you need.

Upload SVG Files

If you have one to load, SVGs can often provide a higher-quality image than other formats.

We now allow .svg images to be loaded anywhere images are allowed, providing more flexibility to the content you use to tell your data story.

The best part of our jobs is growing alongside you, so we're happy to say these updates are a result of feedback from our very own users. We're excited for more updates to come, but we're always listening over at

Closing our open trial period for Seek.

Thank you for helping us continue to grow!

If you had a chance to participate in a trial of Seek this year--thank you! We were able to gather a lot of useful feedback during the temporary open access period and learn more about the challenges and needs people have when looking for data. It was fun while it lasted, but all good things must come to an end. As of Jan 3, 2022, we are ending the open trial (Seek lives on, of course) while we work on implementing things we learned into our roadmap forward. We also want to keep hearing feedback about how you use Seek, so please reach out to us at [email protected].

November 2021

Updated Geography Selection

New experience brings visual maps to everywhere you select geography.

We know that our users love engaging with our mapping experience, but sometimes you want to see a region on a map without having to actually create one from scratch. That’s why we have integrated map selection into all of our geography selection experiences.

  • Everywhere you click “Add Geography” you are going to see a map of the selected regions so you can truly visualize the community you are trying to understand.

You can also select census tracts and census block groups from that map (something you can’t currently search for) which gives a truly personalized experience when you are going hyper-local.


New featured Guides and additional information in downloads.

  • Partnership Logos on Guides

    • Did you know that some of our Guides are developed and sponsored in collaboration with our partners? We've been able to partner with experts in many industries and are excited to be able to give them their proper due. Look for their logos and links to their resources right from our Guides tab in Seek. (Our recent Community Resilience work has a Seek Guide, as well as Report Templates in Chart!)

  • Gather Source information in your download file

    • We also know how important source information is when looking at data. You can include the source in a header row of your export if you need it

Other Improvements

  • New icon choices for Callouts

  • User Data Uploads

    • Clearing Whitespace: we clear whitespace for you, so you don’t have to worry about that in your uploads

    • More error messaging: we are able to be more specific with you when something goes wrong

    • Support for curve and multisurface geometry types: more is more! Try some new geo types instead of converting them.

October 2021


We took a 'Sprintermission' this month to cleanup code and explore new ideas.

We took some time in October to do what we call a Sprintermission. The goal here is two-fold.

  • First, we always like to accomplish some things that we don’t always have a chance to prioritize (like library upgrades, code clean-up, and other technical debt). These things often take a backseat because we want to focus on making great features for you! Of course, we must return to these tasks and "clean up our dust" so we can continue to provide great value.

  • Second, sprintermission gives our developers to explore new ideas and project directions. This month, we're excited to make progress on some new data browsing and analysis ideas that will take shape going into 2022, as well as a new way to see what regions you're picking when choosing geographies.

Thanks for letting us take this time away from feature development so we can get some new things going that will make mySidewalk better than ever!

Organizing behind-the-scenes source information.

We know how important source information is when looking at data. Understanding where it came from, the circumstances under which it was collected, and details such as dates and places are important to get a clear picture of that data.

Our library has a vast amount of information about the data we provide, including much that we have not been able to present to you in an accessible manner.

In October, we made some changes behind the scenes that will allow us to start presenting that information to you in more places and in better formats. We're excited to begin implementing work from these efforts in the coming months!

September 2021

Use Guides in your search for data.

Break down & address big topics with curated sets of relevant data indicators.

You already knew you could search Seek quickly and easily but now you can browse our Guides for pre-selected content to get you started. We have billions of data points that have been carefully curated to deliver accurate, local, and specific information to you without the traditional nonsense of downloading, cleaning and cross-checking.

Seek provides both search and browse options that help you get right to the data so you can spend more time with the data and less time wrangling it.

Keep an eye out for our Featured Guides as well. We are working hard on topics important to you and have already published Guides around ARPA, Affordable Housing, Digital Inclusion, and more!

Search Enhancements

This month we focused on improving the search and filtering options when you select data. We are aiming to improve both search and browse (see Guides above) as you continue to explore and use mySidewalk data.

Some enhancements:

  • Search results based on popularity - we leverage some Artificial Intelligence to re-rank our search results. The more you click on something, the higher it comes up in the results! This is a collective effort so other mySidewalkers in our community are helping to bring important data indicators to the top of the list along with you.

  • Symbols in search - You can use advanced syntax (or symbols) when searching in Seek.

    • Phrase Query: a specific sequence of terms that must be matched next to one another. Surround your sequence of terms with (" "). For example, "total population" only returns a record if it contains "total population" exactly.

    • Prohibit operator: excludes records that contain a specific terms. Prefix your term with (-) to exclude it. For example; total -population only matches records containing “total”, but not “population”

  • New Filters - I’m sure you have spotted the two new filters (Unit and Category). Use these to refine searches as you search through the data.

  • Availability - Data is reported as connected to a specific geography and we use a feature that we call "availability" to let you know which geos will give you data results. Some data is only available for a specific level of geography (think: state, county or zip code) so if something is unavailable for the metropolitan area that is set as your geography, try a county or some zip codes instead. We have updated the messaging you see to help make this more clear! (more here)

August 2021

Seek Trial

Share with your teammates and friends!

We're doing something special and need your help to spread the word:

We’re offering everyone in your organization free access to Seek through the rest of 2021. When you share the unique link from your account with colleagues, they can sign up for a free account and gain immediate access to 7.5 billion data values on health, housing, the economy, mobility, and more.

Why are we doing this? One of our newer customers recently shared this feedback:

"We now have an opportunity to look at housing, transportation, racial equity, and other community factors through a different lens. This data is transforming conversations and the way we do business."

Maggie Jones, Assistant Director of Community Development

Tarrant County, TX

It made us wonder...what if everyone felt like this? What might be possible if everyone had easy access to the same reliable data to create a shared, holistic understanding of the places they’re impacting?

Let's find out together.

Apportion by Tracts


You know how you are always saying that more data is better? Well, mySidewalk just increased the amount of data available to you by 82%! We did this using a methodology called apportionment and it makes the data we already have available in more shapes and more custom boundaries. You won’t see a difference in how you use mySidewalk but you will notice how many more data values you can get!

June/July 2021

Table Updates

New ways to create, format and leverage tables!

You may have noticed that in Seek, you can add lots of geographies to visualize data but in components, you are restricted. We have raised that restriction so you can now add many geographies to your components when you are making them. Beware that if you add a LOT (think more than 25) you will experience a slow-down in performance.

Raising that geography limit allows us to do a few new things with tables! You can now create a table and a callout using the “create visualization” button directly from Seek. Just add geographies, click the button and follow the workflow to build your table or callout!

New Data Normalizers & Travel Times

  • New Normalizers! Remember when we were able to use mySidewalk data alongside your data in bivariate maps and correlations? Well, we can now do that in all visualizations! If you have data that you can normalize, you can use mySidewalk data or your own data to make that happen.

  • New options in Travel Times! You are no longer limited to 5-minute intervals in the travel times tool. Create one using 4 minutes or 17 minutes (or whatever your favorite number is!). Read more about creating travel times.

May 2021

Select from a map

Visualize your geo selection on a map!

When you go to select a geographic region within mySidewalk, it’s handy to be able to visualize exactly what you are picking! Now, you can visualize your selections on a map and even pick directly from the map!

Anywhere you pick a geo, you can choose “Map View” to view or select from the map. Use the dropdown to select the geographic level (like zip code or county!). Keep in mind that you will only be able to visualize the level that you have selected in the dropdown even if you have others selected in your list.

Bonus: You can use the map to select Census tracts and block groups, which was not possible from the list view.

Seek Collections

Expert help finding the data you need

Upon entering Seek, you will now see groupings of indicators on the Seek Home page. These indicators will allow you to choose a pre-selected group of data values right from the home page. Our experts use their deep knowledge of the data available alongside their industry knowledge to curate these groupings of popular and valuable data!

A couple more things

  • New Icons! Check out the new icons available in the callouts feature.

  • New Upload Features! You can now upload currency and percentage values using the data upload. Just keep the symbols ($ and %) in with the data values and our system will automatically accept those values. Not only does it load them as numbers but it will also keep track of the formatting you indicate!

April 2021

New Navigation Experience

Improved layout to get where you need to go.

We updated our main menu to make it easier for you to access key features, with a quick start menu and direct access to Seek, Data, Reports/Dashboards, and Upload.

The pages should be familiar but with fewer clicks to get where you need to go. We have also organized the icons in a top-down approach to start with mySidewalk data (Seek), your own data (Data), upload new boundaries and data (Geography and Upload) and then create Reports (Publisher) with all the data you have discovered!

mySidewalk and Your Data: Better Together

You can now use your own georeferenced data alongside mySidewalk data in bivariate maps and correlations.

Once you georeference your data, you can start to leverage the power of your data PLUS mySidewalk data! A correlation or a bivariate map can be created to leverage census data for your specific community needs and values. We want to give you the power of the census to be built into great stories for your local arena.

March 2021

Leverage Travel Time for custom geographies

Use Isochrones to create a travel time boundary to be used in mySidewalk.

Creating a boundary using travel times opens up a lot of possibilities within mySidewalk. You might want to know the service boundary around a fire station or hospital based on a 15 minute travel time. Or, you might like to understand the demographics within a 5 minute bike time from your proposed new office location.

No matter what you want to know, travel times can be a valuable way to make a boundary and we are making that easier than ever.

How to Create Travel Times

Logged-in? Get hands-on with a tour.

Keep finding and using local data fast

🔍 Seek helps you find and export data directly to your computer or to a map.

To complement the improvements in February, we continue to listen to feedback and improve Seek to make it fast and easy to use.

  • We now ask if you want to load your previous Seek or start a new one. This enables you to keep working even after some time away, or working in a report.

  • We have turned on the ability to add the “primary geography” when looking at subgeographies. This can give much needed context of the size of something when looking at the smaller pieces. Keep in mind that the primary geography is not a sum.

February 2021

We've launched an exciting lineup of new features to enhance your experience, focusing on improvements to searching and downloading community data, uploading and visualizing your own data without GIS experience, and providing more accessible and flexible sharing tools for your publications.


Find, reference, and start using local data faster.

🔍 Seek helps you find and export data directly to your computer or to a map, and enhanced searched features help you explore what's available to use.

We've enjoyed hearing the response to Seek since we first launched the tool last year, and are particularly grateful to hear how much it's already helped so many of you access and use community data. To summarize just a few thoughts we heard:

  • "I wish I had it this morning. I just pulled the SNAP rates for all our counties and it took me hours. This took minutes."

  • "This will be useful with the policy and legislative aspects of our work!"

  • "The download feature is amazing. We can already think of people we need to train internally and let them know this is available."

But we also know we can keep making it better.

Your input has been helpful in understanding how we can keep improving to break down barriers to using important community data regardless of prior knowledge. Here are the latest improvements we've made to enhance the Seek and Data Library experiences in mySidewalk:

  • We've updated the search process to provide a source information toggle as you search through the Data Library, making it easier to see detailed source info.

  • When searching with a particular subgeography in Seek, some data may unavailable at your selected granularity but available at a different geography level. When this occurs, you can now preview alternative geographies available.

  • Rather than having to leave Seek and create a report or dashboard to visualize something you found, you can now create a map directly from Seek.

Upload and visualize your data quicker with georeferencing.

🗺 Match uploaded data to one of mySidewalk's defined geography layers to easily map and visualize your own data without GIS experience.

We know visualizing the data you upload to mySidewalk is a top need for our users, and we've been working on enhancements that remove friction points in your way to unlocking insight. The georeferencing tool lets you upload data that doesn't already have spatial information, allowing you to match values to our pre-defined geographies. Simply upload, assign, and visualize.

By assigning your data to mySidewalk's predefined geographies, you can:

  • Visualize your data with more power, flexibility, and ease. You don't need to be a mapping or GIS expert, or even have a shapefile to start working with your data.

  • Skip third-party tools or hunting for longitudes/latitudes. Assign one or multiple geographies with a few clicks, or use a unique identifier to do it automatically.

Bring data insight to everybody with color accessibility.

🎨 Create color palettes that meet WCAG compliance so your data reports & visualizations don't leave out members of your community.

mySidewalk prides itself on the ability to deliver data experiences that are accessible and useable by every person in a community. It's why we're committed to accessibility standards in our work, driving our philosophy to raise the standards of the data experience. Responsive design and compatibility with assistive tech like screen readers and text-to-braille software are built-in when you publish with mySidewalk, but how about the colors you use? Our own designers use tools to ensure we pick colors appropriately, but you shouldn't need to be an expert to create engaging, inclusive designs that don't leave people out.

We developed the new Accessibility Color Palette Generator to enable you with the control to lead data communications with true accessibility in all your work:

  • Check headline and body copy text for appropriate contrast. The WCAG AA compliance checker gives instant feedback to let you know if your colors pass or fail proper accessibility standards.

  • Create entire new palettes from just 1 or 2 colors. The Multi-Hue, Single-Hue, and Divergent options let you create a set of colors that work well together.

  • Preview your palette for colorblindness. The color blind preview generates an instant view of your colors on a chart and map so you can preview what viewers with Tritanopia, Deuteranopia, and Protanopia will see and optimize for inclusiveness.

🎉 Dashboard page PDFs, automatic source footnotes, & more.

In addition to our highlights, we've made some requested improvements you may have noticed recently:

  • Save individual dashboard pages as PDFs, along with improved performance.

  • Edit and Preview / View your content in a simpler view, with a single link that serves as a preview when your report is unpublished, as well as the published link when you choose to do so.

  • Use automatic data source references in addition to custom footnotes, so you're providing transparency and citation as you work.

📈 Remain up-to-date with the latest community data available.

This year so far, we've updated data from the CDC, Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Census, and Department of Housing to name a few. Recent updates include:

  • Small-area health outcomes & risk factor data (now available nation-wide!)

  • Monthly local unemployment rates

  • Single-parent income spent on transportation and housing

  • Number of jobs available by industry, motor vehicle crash fatalities, & more

Logged-in? Get hands-on with our last Data Summary tour.

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