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Blog

Dot Map of the USA

Matthew Dance

The Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia put together on e of the most impressive maps that I have seen in a while this past June. The Racial Dot Map is:

an American snapshot; it provides an accessible visualization of geographic distribution, population density, and racial diversity of the American people in every neighborhood in the entire country. The map displays 308,745,538 dots, one for each person residing in the United States at the location they were counted during the 2010 Census. Each dot is color-coded by the individual's race and ethnicity.

Racial Dot Map Full Extent

There a couple things that I think are very interesting about the map.  The methods used are pretty cool where the creator, Dustin Cable, coded the map using Python and a whole set of skills that I do not possess.  It highlights the insight that can be gained when skill sets are combined - for instance I am certain that an urban planner would have a deeper understanding at the extent of racial segregation in a city like Boston (please let me know if I am out to lunch here).  This insight is accomplished using a very minimal design (you can toggle names off/on) that is both effective and beautiful. Remember, all of the distinguishable features on this map are a result of dots with each dot representing a person.  Wow.

Racial Dot Map detail of Boston

Finally, the map was inspired by a similar and equally remarkable Population Map of North America created by MIT Medial Lab researcher Brandon Martin-Anderson. The NA Population map contains 454 064 098 points - a very big data set!

Dot Map: Population of North America

The complete description of the Racial Dot Map can be found at the Cooper Center's site.