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Revisiting Social Explorer for Examining Demographic Data

By Justin Sorensen

Over the past 5-years, I have shared a series of semester-long projects which have become known as “Map Monday” releases – a series of bi-weekly interactive or cartographic projects developed through our GIS Services department demonstrating available datasets / resources, mapping applications / platforms, and various geospatial analysis methods that can be utilized within research projects you are developing. For the Spring 2021 semester, I found these Map Monday topics focusing heavily on the user-friendly, interactive and output capabilities of a program called Social Explorer for the quick creation and sharing of demographic data on a wide variety of topics. In 2019, I shared a post reviewing the Social Explorer platform and felt based on the features offered to users that it was a good time to recap this unique resource available to our University of Utah patrons.

To begin, Social Explorer is a program (available via a free subscription / license through the J. Willard Marriott Library) offering users the ability to visualize and interact with data through maps, charts, and reports that can be saved, shared, and exported for use in projects and presentations. The datasets offered through Social Explorer present users with access to over 200-years of demographic statistics at the click of a button. Social Explorer also presents users with a variety of tools to aid in visualizing data and analyzing information within a user-friendly, interactive program. With these tools, users have the ability to:

  • Quickly create informative maps
  • Easily export data for use in Excel and other analytical programs (such as GIS and R)
  • Display and compare multiple variables within a single map or through side-by-side visual comparisons
  • Explore data at various geographic extents (national to street-level)

Moving beyond the tools and datasets available through Social Explorer, my research into the program has identified several benefits for its use within project and research endeavors. These include the following:

  • Social Explorer offers the ability to work with user-friendly data visualizations. The process enables users with the ability to explore demographic data and social changes, examine trends, compare variables, all while easily communicating their findings with others.
  • Datasets presented through Social Explorer are trusted and reliable through public and proprietary sources that are always up-to-date with new variables continually being added to the collection.
  • Social Explorer is easy to use, breaking down the barriers commonly experienced in data analysis through an interactive, user-friendly experience.
  • All of the variables and resources presented through Social Explorer are thoroughly documented and published with each dataset that is offered.

Do you think Social Explorer might be the answer you are searching for? Why not give it a try and find out! Access to a free subscription / license can be created through a portal on the Marriott Library Research Database. Simply log-in to your University of Utah account and set-up a Social Explorer account to get started.

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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