When it comes to assessing progress and needs, place matters—at least that’s what the dozens of city leaders we’ve spent hundreds of hours interviewing told us. Adding interactive maps to reports gives you the ability to analyze a geography on the fly and quickly add it to the report. When people can connect the story in a report with the place they live, they engage.

Below are step-by-step instructions on how you can add a map to your report.

A quick note: Our tool assumes it knows where you are based on the place you have associated with your account. You can edit this information at anytime on your report in the "Report Settings" section on the right of your screen—or add more places to look at and compare to the geography you've selected.

Getting Started

  1. On your report (if you are unsure on how to create a report, read this article), select the blue teardrop with the ‘+’ symbol on the left margin.  Select the "Map" icon from the options.

This will open up the map builder.  The center of the screen previews your changes in real time.  You’ll make your map edits in the dark gray panels on the right hand side of the screen.

Apply Layers (Custom or Pre-Built) to a Map

To add a layer to a map, select one of the two blue “Add Layer” buttons on the right.   You can choose between adding a mySidewalk Layer , or one of your custom, user-uploaded layers.

To add one of mySidewalk’s over 2,000 pre-built layers, select “Add mySidewalk Layer”.  The geography set in your report’s ‘global settings’ will automatically apply to your map.  You can change the geography in your map by selecting the drop down under “Select Geography”, then searching for your geography of interest. 

Next, use the “Select a sub-geography” drop down menu to break down your map into a sub-geography of your choice.  These sub-geographies allow you to color your map by data.   mySidewalk allows you to map data by:

US Congressional Districts
Metro and Micropolitan Areas
State Senate and House Districts
Unified School Districts
County Subdivisions
Places (Cities)
City Council Districts (where available)
Zip Codes
Census Tracts
Census Block Groups

Note: The sub-geography options available for your layer are automatically limited to those smaller than your layer.  For example, Counties are a mappable sub-geography for a Metropolitan Area with at least one county, but are not a selectable option if your layer is a zip code that fits entirely within one county.

To add a user layer that your organization has uploaded to mySidewalk, select “Add My Layer”.  

Select your layer from your User Layer Library.  You can change your layer anytime by selecting the drop-down below “Selected Layer” to return to the layer library. If your user layer has sub-geographies or was drawn in the mySidewalk Draw Layer tool, you can break your layer down by sub-geography, just like mySidewalk layers.  (To learn more about uploading user layers, read this article.)  

Visualize your Data with Map Styling

1. Style by Numeric Data

Any layer attribute that can be styled by data will have a “Style by Data” button to the right of the styling options.  You can style any of your layer attributes by data, including:

  • Fill color (polygon and point layers)
  • Line width (for user-uploaded line layers)
  • Line color (for user-uploaded line layers)
  • Circle radius (for user-uploaded point layers)

Select the “Style by Data” button next to the attribute you’d like add data to, then select the dataset you’d like to visualize in your map.  Once you’ve selected a dataset, you can change your Legend and Styling options:

  1. Select the number of bins you’d like to show in your legend.
  2. Select the break methodology for your bins.  Choice included:
  3. Natural Breaks (default)
  4. Equal Interval
  5. Equal Count
  6. Custom (enter your own custom break values)

Select your Shading or Styling options.  These options will be customized depending on which layer attribute you have selected to style, such as fill colors or circle radius.

2. Style by Categorical Data

You can style your user-uploaded layers by categorical (non-numeric) data. Select the “Style by Data” button next to the attribute you’d like add data to, then select your categorical dataset.  Once you select a non-numeric dataset, you’ll be presented options to group your categories into custom bins.

To create a new categorical bin, select “Add Category”.  The bin you are currently editing will be indicated by a blue outline on the right. A list of all the unique values in your dataset will be displayed in the center.  To add values to your current bin, click the ‘+’ sign in the blue circle next to the value.  You can add as many of the values to your bin as you’d like.  

Once you’ve finished adding values to your bin, click in the label text field to add a label for you bin (the default label will simply be the value(s) placed in the bin).  Select a styling option, such as the fill color to complete your bin.  Select “Add Category” to add another bin.  

Any values not manually added to a specific bin will be placed in a ‘default bin’, labeled “Other” in the legend.  To finish editing your bins, select “Done Adding Categories” at the bottom of the page.

When you are finished adding and editing your layer, you can select "Add Layer" to add additional layers to your map.

Helpful Hint: To keep your map and legend looking clean, group your categorical data into 5 bins or fewer.

Change Basemap Settings 

Once you’ve added your layers and data, you can change your basemap style. Select “Map Settings”.  Then, in the far pane, select the drop-down menu under “Map Style”.  Choose from several options to find find the style that makes your data look best.

Be sure to give your map a title so stakeholders know exactly what they are looking at and include any additional content in the footnote.

When you are finished creating your map select “Done” at the bottom of the page.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I add more than one layer to a map? Yes! You can add multiple layers to a map. Keep in mind that adding too much may compromise how easy it is to understand your map. As an alternative, you may want to add another map to your report. 

Can I import a map I created using mySidewalk’s Analysis Maps Tool? Yes! You can import a map created in Analysis Maps.  Simply select the ‘+’ in your report and select “Import Map”.  At this time, you cannot import an Analysis Map that has “bivariate analysis” turned on in the map.


See maps in action on these applause-worthy reports. Note that these are reports the mySidewalk staff has created. 


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