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Get to know mySidewalk in 20 minutes or less

Find, visualize, and communicate about data with mySidewalk's must-see features.

Kaitlyn Foster avatar
Written by Kaitlyn Foster
Updated over a week ago

In this article:

  • Find: Navigate and search for insights

  • Visualize: Build data visualizations

  • Communicate: Build reports and dashboards, save time, organize, and export

  • Get help: Find resources to learn and ask questions

  • Learn more: Highlighted articles that go deeper into features mentioned here


Learn how to navigate mySidewalk, find insights with Seek, use Guides, save a search in Seek for later, and send data from Seek to a Report or Dashboard.


Expand to view timestamps

[00:00] Welcome and video description.

[00:25] Homepage and left menu navigation

[01:45] Seek tour starts; searching for data and regions

[02:26] Guides and adding data to your selection

[02:47] Normalization and Saved Searches

[03:05] Views in Seek

[03:48] Send data from Seek to a Report or Dashboard (must have access to both Seek and Chart

[04:01] Wrap-up


Expand to view transcript

[00:00] Welcome to mySidewalk. We're glad to have you here. In this video, I'm going to walk you through how to explore data and find impactful insights. In other videos, I cover how to visualize data and communicate using mySidewalk.

[00:16] First, let's learn how to find your way around. Then, let's get to know Seek — the best place to explore data and dive into insights.

[00:25] This is the mySidewalk homepage, where you land when you go to Here, under get data for your community, you'll find a search bar that takes you right to Seek, as well as some featured guides. More on guides later.

[00:41] The boxes here, under Find Insights, will take you directly to the different tabs in Seek you can use to find meaningful data .

[00:50] Under Tell a Story, you'll find what reports and dashboards members of your organization have been working on recently. You can also create a new, blank report, or one from a template, here.

On the left, you'll find links to various pages in mySidewalk. These links are also located in the drop down menu in the upper left.

[01:11] This drop down follows you wherever you go in the platform.

[01:15] To see all the reports and dashboards in your organization, not just recent ones that you see on the homepage, click reports or dashboards here. If you've got a larger project or staff working across multiple programs, organize your reports and dashboards using folders.

[01:32] Lastly, our upload tools will help you bring data into mySidewalk that isn't already in our library of 40+ sources and billions of data values. Now, let's dive into Seek.

[01:45] Seek is the best place to explore data and dive into insights. Whether you're looking for data to include in a report, just want to learn more about your community, or need to download data to use elsewhere, Seek is where to start.

To use Seek, you'll need to select a geographic region and some data. My Sidewalk has 16 levels of geographies you can choose from.

[02:08] To see data in more detail, you can select a sub region. There are multiple ways to find data in Seek. You can use the search bar, which has filters for data source, categories by interest and demographics, time, and geographic availability.

[02:26] mySidewalk also has a set of data Guides built by our subject matter experts to jumpstart your exploration. You'll find hand selected data recommendations, examples from users like you, and report templates called Story Blocks. Once you've found data you want to see, click the plus button to add it to your selections.

[02:47] Then, in the selection panel, you can do things like normalize data, a. k. a. turn it into a percent.

[02:52] If you want to save the data you've selected for later, or share it with other users in your organization, create a Saved Search. Saved Searches will appear here.

[03:05] With data and region selected, you can view the resulting data in a few ways. As a table, map, timeline, distribution, and correlations. Use the table to identify outliers.

[03:20] In the map view, create a regular or a bivariate map to see how data interacts across space. In the trend view, identify whether data is increasing or decreasing over time, as well as its relative change. On the Distribution tab, check whether data is a normal distribution. And in Relationships, identify how closely related each piece of data is in your community.

[03:48] You can also save some of the visualizations you find in Seek to a report or dashboard. Clicking on this icon wherever you see it in Seek will pull up a window with options for where to send the visualization.

[04:01] Each view in Seek is an opportunity to find insights that impact your community. Maybe areas with the least access to a grocery store also have low access to transportation. Or areas with high pedestrian deaths also have the greatest percent with limited vehicle access.

[04:17] Whatever matters to you—health, economic and community development, safety, and more—Seek will provide context, spark questions, and help you make data informed decisions for your organization and in partnership with your community. Thanks for joining me!


Learn the most important parts of visualizing data with mySidewalk, what you can get out of each data component, and a few tips to polish your visualizations.


Expand to view timestamps

[00:00] Introduction

[01:13] Basic visualization steps, including selecting geos, data, and style options

[03:18] When is each visualization type useful?

[06:21] 2 easy tips to level up your visualizations

[06:40] Conclusion


Expand to view transcript

[00:00] Ready to learn about visualizing in mySidewalk? You're in the right place. If you haven't yet, you may also be interested in watching our videos on finding and communicating about data. This video will focus on visualizing data in reports and dashboards from mySidewalks data library. This library is home to more than 40 data sources with 8, 000+ pieces of data.

[00:22] There are two main pathways to building data visualizations for reports and dashboards. The first is Seek, which allows you to determine what's meaningful about the data before selecting how you want to visualize it. And the other is building visualizations directly in a report or dashboard. This approach asks you to choose the visualization type before selecting your data. Our video on finding data in mySidewalk has an overview of the first method, including how you can send a visualization from Seek to a report or dashboard.

[00:54] For now, let's focus on how to build and edit data components from reports and dashboards. You can get to your organization's assets from the waffle icon in the top left, no matter where you are in the platform. Depending on your mySidewalk subscription, you'll be able to create reports and dashboards.

[01:13] Whether you're working on a small project or a large one, component creation and editing looks the same. For today's video, I'll be building in a report.

Blue plus icons show you where you can add a component. Data visualizations are on the bottom half of this menu. Data components powered by mySidewalk's data include callouts, tables, bar charts, Pie charts, time series, correlations, and maps.

[01:42] Let's dive into some settings you'll see over and over again across these components. First, click on the component type you want to create, then select the type of data. Most of the time, you'll be using data from mySidewalk's library, so we'll focus on that today.

[02:00] On the right, there's an edit panel. There are three main aspects of a component: geography, data, and style.

When the default geographies box is checked, it tells the data component to use the region selected in the report's overall settings. You can change the geography using either the search box or the map.

[02:29] Second is the data tab. When you search for data while building a component, only data that can be used in that visualization type will show up. For example, data that's only available for one time period won't show up in search results when you're trying to build a time series.

[02:45] Once you know what data you want to choose, select the blue plus button or click on the data to add it to your selection. Once the data is selected, you can normalize it, update the label, and more. The result will be a clear, well designed chart.

[03:10] Lastly, visualizations come with style options like colors. Some style choices are specific to each chart.

[03:18] Now that we've covered the primary aspects of all visualizations, we'll dive into when you might use each one.

Callouts are fantastic for showcasing one or two important data values. Use them to display data that sets the stage for a topic or demonstrates a community need or strength.

[03:36] Tables are useful for showing several data values to define existing conditions, especially when A, a bar chart or pie chart is not an option, or B, you want to normalize each value individually.

[03:50] Here's an example of a call out and table working together. The call out shows the percent in poverty, a number that sets the stage for us to draw insights from the table of poverty rate by race and ethnicity. The data in the table has all been normalized by the appropriate subgroup, so Hispanic or Latino folks in poverty is divided by the Hispanic or Latino population whose poverty status is known, and so on.

Together, these components allow us to assess which groups experience an inequitable poverty burden.

[04:20] Bar charts are great at comparing subgroups like household size or number of jobs by industry. Some options you can do include keeping them as raw numbers, sorting them from high to low, or getting the most out of visualizing more than one geography by normalizing the data.

[04:37] Pie charts are similar to bar charts: they compare subgroups. Use pie charts only when you're interested in data for one geography and there are seven or fewer slices of the pie. More slices than that and you're likely to have a chart that's difficult to read, as you can see here.

[04:56] Time series reveal trends so you can compare the data against a goal, identify growing challenges or strengths, and match your knowledge of local context and policy with what may have contributed.

In the time series here, I think we can all guess that the context for the drop in jobs in 2020 is the COVID pandemic.

[05:14] The edit panel for correlations and maps look a little different. The geography is located in the top right. And in maps, you'll need to add a layer before selecting your geography.

[05:32] Correlations measure the relationship between two pieces of data. Strong relationships will have a steep line, and weak lines will be closer to horizontal. This tool is especially good at illustrating inequity.

[05:47] Maps look at data with respect to space. In maps, you can find patterns of disproportionate impact, regions of opportunity, and more.

Bivariate maps and filters can add even more value, like this map that uses filters to highlight which areas fit multiple criteria for grant funding and this map that shows overlapping aspects of food access where the darkest color shows need in both physical access to healthy food and the financial safety net that enables those purchases. More info on advanced settings like these can be found in our Knowledge Center.

[06:21] As we wrap up, here's a few tips on how to get the most out of your visualizations.

  • Always list the source and time of the data. Visualizations that use mySidewalk data do this by default using a setting in the Style tab.

  • Second, adjust the label and unit in a visualization so it's clear to a layperson.

[06:40] In this video, we covered mySidewalk's visualization tools. For more on other components, like text, and tools like our AI writing assistant, CoWrite, and export options, check out our video on communicating with mySidewalk. Thanks for learning with me!


Learn how to build shareable documents (Reports and Dashboards), save time, organize and design your content, and share or export data.


Expand to view timestamps

[00:00] Welcome and video description

Build [00:17]

[00:24] Reports and Dashboards: description, common ways to use them

[01:05] Default settings on Reports and Dashboards

Save Time [01:36]

[01:56] Report Templates: description

[02:30] Report Templates: how to access them

[03:09] Report Templates: how to add one or more to an existing Report or Dashboard

[03:29] CoWrite, mySidewalk's AI writing assistant

Organize & Design [03:50]

[04:01] Content components: Text, images, promo cards

[04:28] Accessible Color Palette Generator

[04:51] Move components within a Report or Dashboard, and move or copy components to a different Report or Dashboard

Share [05:15]

[05:24] Publishing settings for Reports and Dashboards

[06:12] Export options for Reports and Dashboards

[06:34] Export options in Seek

[06:55] Wrap-up


Expand to view transcript

[00:00] Welcome to Communicating with mySidewalk. In this short video, we'll cover mySidewalk tools that help you communicate about and share data. These tools empower you to build shareable documents, save time, organize and design content, and share your findings.


[00:17] Let's start with where the bulk of data communication happens in mySidewalk, reports and dashboards.

[00:24] Reports and dashboards are composed of data visualizations, text, images, and more to help you create a cohesive story. We call these elements components.

[00:36] A report is a single page, whereas dashboards can contain multiple pages and have some additional customization options, like header images, URLs, and the ability to host more data components.

[00:50] You might make a report for a topic brief or to fulfill a data request or other smaller projects, while dashboards are great for larger things like needs assessments, strategic goal tracking, or neighborhood by neighborhood reporting.

[01:05] These assets also have a set of defaults to customize them to fit your needs and your brand. Under defaults, set the geographic regions and colors you want to use. Change these, and components that are set to use the default will also change automatically.

Save Time

[01:36] You can build components directly in reports and dashboards. There are also a few handy tools to save you time and help you build with the most impactful information: report templates and the Seek Save button. For more on saving data from Seek to a report or dashboard, check out our video on finding data.

[01:56] Otherwise, our library of report templates can help get you started. Each report template comes pre built with visualizations and copy created with our best practices in mind. Templates range from robust, publish ready reports like our award winning Natural Disaster Resilience Toolkits to Story Blocks.

[02:14] Story Blocks are smaller than full size reports. They act as building blocks for reports and dashboards and come with a few data visualizations and a short paragraph. I recommend using between three to five blocks of this size in a report or dashboard page.

[02:30] You can access report templates from several places. Click on Reports from the Navigation, then either select the Templates tab, or create a new report, and then select from a template.

[02:51] Or go to Seek to find Story Blocks purpose built for each guide topic you're exploring.

[03:09] Add existing or new reports, including report templates, to a report or dashboard using the blue plus button and Import Report. This is especially helpful when pulling in multiple Story Blocks to form a larger story.

[03:29] My Sidewalks Reports and Dashboards come with CoWrite, an AI Data Storytelling Assistant that helps you go from rough to final draft faster.

[03:38] With a few clicks, CoWrite summarizes data, so you don't have to. Check the results, make an edit here or there, and you've got publish ready copy in a fraction of the time.

Organize and Design

[03:50] Clear organization and design will take what you've built to the next level. Add local context via text.

[04:01] Upload images of your community or branded assets.

[04:05] And direct your viewers to other dashboard pages or sites using promo cards.

[04:28] You can also generate a color palette from your organization's branded colors and check them against web accessibility standards using mySidewalk's accessible color palette generator. This will test your colors against WCAG AA compliance.

[04:51] Reorganize components using the up or down buttons. Move or copy components to other reports or dashboards using the component menu or multi select box.

[05:07] Altogether, data, text, and design empower you to talk about what matters in a polished, shareable asset.

[05:15] There are a few ways to share data with mySidewalk. First, you can publish reports and dashboards, and second, you can download data.

[05:24] Reports and dashboards are designed to be published and shared, either internally to your team, or with the public. You'll find settings to publish a report or dashboard and define how your viewers can interact with the data in the Share tab.

Set it to Published - Private to password protect your report or dashboard. This is a good option if you have an internal review process that means people who do not have a mySidewalk license will need to access your report.

[05:53] Set it to Published - Public when you're ready for folks to start getting more out of data. This means anyone with the link can find the report or dashboard, including via search engine. You can also preview how your report or dashboard will appear when published here.

[06:12] You can also allow your audience to download data and images directly from a visualization or create PDFs of your assets on the fly.

[06:21] With embed codes, you or your audience can insert powerful visualizations directly into a website.

[06:34] In addition to reports and dashboards, Seek also allows data downloads.

[06:44] There, you can export data to use elsewhere with formats like CSV, GeoJSON, and more.

[06:55] Thanks for watching. In this video, we covered my sidewalks communication tools, including building and shareable documents like reports and dashboards, getting more done faster with report templates and our AI writing assistant co write organizing and designing content and sharing with our publishing tools and seek.

[07:14] To learn more, make sure to catch our videos on finding data insights and visualizing data.

Looking for help?

Ready to learn more, or have a question? Get help any time you're logged in by clicking on the question mark in the upper right.

There, you'll find resources like the following:

  • Help articles: Get advice on how to use mySidewalk's features and answers for commonly asked questions.

  • Live training: Learn how to use mySidewalk directly from our staff with our regularly scheduled trainings and office hours.

  • Live chat: Can't find the answer to your question in our help articles? Send us a message and someone on the team will get back to you shortly.

Learn more

The fun doesn't stop here! For more in-depth information about some of the features covered in the videos above and more, check out these articles:




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