https://dataingovernment.blog.gov.uk/2016/03/30/free-tools-to-quickly-show-postcode-data-on-a-map/

Free tools to quickly show postcode data on a map

In my role as the performance analyst for the Digital Marketplace I often need to show the locations of suppliers and buyers.

In this post, I want to share some free tools that I use to convert postcode data into useful maps. My example shows sample data of football stadiums in Great Britain.

Mapping Sheets

This Google Sheets add-on allows me to  plot postcodes onto a Google Map. When I put the data into a Google Sheet and select the relevant columns, I can create a map with pins to show the locations of the football stadiums.

These are the columns selected for the sample data:

Building the map from Google Sheets
Building the map from a Google Sheet

From this, I can generate this map:

Google Map with all the data plotted
Google Map with all the locations plotted

The ability to filter the data and click on pins to open up more information is a useful feature.

Filtered Google Map
Filtered Google Map

Mapsdata

I used Mapsdata when I want to show concentrations of locations and have less than 1,000 postcodes. The data needs to be uploaded as an Excel spreadsheet.

This is an example of the clustering feature. The marks show how many stadiums there are in the area. Controls on the left allow the geographical distances to be adjusted.

Mapsdata clustering feature
Mapsdata clustering feature

When I have large numbers of postcodes I found the Mapsdata heatmapping feature really useful. This shows the same data as a heatmap.

Mapsdata heatmap feature
Mapsdata heatmap feature

Mapsdata also had a feature that allows me to show bubbles based on a particular column’s values. Here I’ve set the tool to show the size of bubble as the capacity of each of the stadiums.

Mapsdata bubble feature
Mapsdata bubble feature

Mapsdata also provided several useful tools to convert data such as postcodes to longitudes and latitudes. Unfortunately, the Mapsdata service is no longer available (as at October 18). 

Over to you

We’ll keep experimenting with different tools and will continue to share our experiences. If you use any free tools for mapping postcodes we’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

Ashraf Chohan is a senior performance analyst in GDS.

17 comments

  1. Comment by Ana posted on

    Looks great, unfotunately, mapsdata.co.uk seems to not exist anymore. Any similar alternative?

  2. Comment by Aileen McLoughlin posted on

    Has anyone used Online MapFinder?

    • Replies to Aileen McLoughlin>

      Comment by Peter Jordan posted on

      Not that I'm aware of at GDS and a search for Online MapFinder suggests you should be wary.

  3. Comment by Rob posted on

    The MapsData link hasn't been working for a year now! Isn't it time to change the blog??

    • Replies to Rob>

      Comment by Peter Jordan posted on

      We've updated the blog to note that, unfortunately, MapsData is no longer available.

  4. Comment by Alice posted on

    Hi. How do I get this to work for Australia? It is recognizing my postcodes as US codes?

  5. Comment by Mark posted on

    Really useful thanks, that's exactly what government should do!

  6. Comment by Peter Lennon posted on

    Thank you I bought this on your recommendation excellent.

  7. Comment by A Chambers posted on

    Mapsdata link no longer working

  8. Comment by Adam posted on

    Mapsdata does not work any more 🙁

  9. Comment by Amanda posted on

    Unfortunately, Mapsdata is no longer available - 404 file not found-

  10. Comment by Katie posted on

    Hi,

    The Google Sheets Add-on looks really good, but I'm nervous about the T&Cs (below)... do you have any alternatives ?

    Mapping Sheets wants to:
    -View and manage the files in your Google Drive
    -View and manage spreadsheets that this application has been installed in
    -View and manage data associated with the application
    -Connect to an external service

    - particularly the first two where the "details" says
    "Upload, download, update and delete files in your Google Drive Create, access, update and delete native Google documents in your Google Drive Manage files and documents in your Google Drive (e.g. search, organise and modify permissions and other metadata, such as title)"
    "View, modify and share with other users spreadsheets that this application has been installed in"

  11. Comment by Dave posted on

    Nice post!

    I use another free tool called Geolytics (http://geo.sg), which is an awesome tool for creating heatmaps, bubble maps and cluster maps.

    It can also draw lines between points, so you can create a network to see how the suppliers and buyers are connected by shipments.

    • Replies to Dave>

      Comment by Karen posted on

      This doesn't work with UK postcodes

  12. Comment by Romy posted on

    Yes we have the same question

  13. Comment by Amy Finch posted on

    Thanks for sharing this! Is it possible to upload a base map to the tool, e.g. showing local authority boundaries, and then postcode data on top? We would like to see where certain data points fall in terms of LAs and regions. Thanks!

  14. Comment by @ninokhariyani posted on

    Thank you for sharing the experience. I would love to try one in my country.