Features and Layers are the basis of all modern maps. Adding them is the first step in the cartographic process, and with the right data, they can help to visualize elements that have never been seen. We asked Elliot Young, a Global Census Archive Analyst at EVG, to go into detail about what map features and layers are as well as their importance.

Different data layers used in map making, including roads, land use, boundaries, hydrography, elevation, and image base
(Image courtesy of Esri)

“Map features/layers are how GIS programs organize the grouping of vector and raster data used to visualize data on a map or screen. These are the features that are often shown in a Table of Contents or legend and often have options for editing and visualization. These layers can range from something as simple as roads to something as complex as a feature that represents a geographic area where a certain language is spoken. Certain features can be toggled on or off to show exactly what data you want to display at any given time. Layers are one of the most elemental features of maps, but some of the most important. Without the right layers, you won’t be able make the map, as layers are essential to visualizing the data you wish convey.

When crafting one of EVG’s many Census products, we are often combining data that is normally seen in tables or spreadsheets. With map features and layers, we can show multiple population and housing variables by organizing, combining, and visualizing to show correlations and relationships that are hard to conceptualize when not being viewed spatially. This transformation from spreadsheet data to visualized data can help researchers and professionals see patterns and trends they may not have been able to see previously. This is just one example of why having the correct map features and layers is so important. “

We work tirelessly to ensure we provide the most accurate data, cartographic products, and custom solutions for our clients. We offer a wide variety of off-the-shelf products and we are more than happy to work with you to get the exact geospatial solution you need. Contact us to find out more.

Elliot Young, Global Census Archive Analyst