ArcGIS Living Atlas

Make a Demographic Map in 5 Minutes

No data? No problem.

You can use Esri’s demographics to add valuable context to your GIS analyses. Learn more about the people, housing, and businesses in your area of interest, see patterns of income, or understand how a population is changing in the next 5 years.

To see demographics on your map, use the Enrich Layer tool in ArcGIS Online, which adds demographics to any map. It results with a layer in your “My Content” which can be used throughout the platform for analysis and visualization.

In 5 minutes, you can explore the demographics in any area with the following 4 steps:

  1. Sign in to ArcGIS Online
  2. Go to an area you are interested in
  3. Enrich it
  4. Smart map it

Step 1: Sign in to ArcGIS Online

Sign in to ArcGIS Online and click on “Map”

Step 2: Go to an area you are interested in

Using the search bar within the map, zoom to any area you are interested in exploring. For this example, I will go to western LA, because I am interested in exploring growth and income in this area. I always change the basemap to a neutral basemap such as the Dark Gray Canvas. Why? A neutral basemap makes demographic maps easier to interpret and understand.

Tip: Looking for demographic data outside the USA? See the available countries here.

Step 3: Enrich it

Once I have my area of interest on the map, I chose the Analysis option at the top of the page, expand Data Enrichment, and select Enrich Layer.

When I want to simply see the demographics of an area, I choose block groups, because they provide the smallest and most detailed geographic boundaries. Since I do not have these boundaries, I select the “Choose Living Atlas Analysis Layer”. I can see that these are Authoritative boundaries, so I choose to use the USA Census Block Group Areas layer.

I click on Select Variables to see the Data Browser, which categorizes thousands of demographic variables available for the United States. Using the Population and Income categories, I choose variables that will help me understand the people living in this area. I choose Apply when I am done selecting my variables.

I create an intuitive title for my new layer, and I make sure to select the “use current map extent”. I check how many credits this analysis will consume using the “show credits” option, and I compare that to the time it would take me to download similar data from a website, convert it to a layer, find the attributes I might want to explore, and then accept the geography availability. The ease, low cost, and flexibility of the Enrich Layer tool are my preferred option, so I choose to continue.

Now I run my analysis.

Step 4: Smart Map it

Once the layer is available, I choose the Change Style option to explore the data. I am most interested in seeing areas of high income and future population growth, so I select these two attributes.

I adjust the color ramp and symbol size using techniques from the blog “6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Maps” to produce the following map:

From this map, I am able to easily pinpoint areas of wealth by the largest square sizes, and areas of significant population growth by the squares with the brightest green color. I can see from the map that in general, areas of wealth are proposed to have the most significant population growth in the next 5 years.

In about 5 minutes, I was able to explore an area unfamiliar to me, and gain insight about the people living in that area. This technique provides me additional insight about an area, and can help me make more informed business decisions. To view the resulting map, click here.

Check out this blog to learn how to add demographics to your existing data and boundaries.

The following links provide more information about the tools and data used in this workflow:

Note: This workflow requires an ArcGIS subscription

About the author

I am a Senior Product Engineer on the Living Atlas team at Esri. I work to create clear and concise stories about demographic, socioeconomic, and policy topics using cartography. I also build data layers and tutorials to help others create their own map masterpieces.

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