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title: "Making Interactive Maps of Public Data in R"
author: "Ryan Rosenberg"
output: html_document
.leaflet {
margin: auto;
```{r setup, include=FALSE, message=FALSE, warning=F}
knitr::opts_chunk$set(echo = T)
# Introduction
Oftentimes, when working with public data, there will be a geospatial component
to the data -- the locations of public libraries, for example, or which
neighborhoods of a city are most bike-friendly. In this tutorial, we will walk
through how to import, transform, and map data from a public dataset using R.
The data we will be using comes from the [City of New Orleans Open Data Portal](, and concerns grants from the
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) given to local partners to
help rebuild and build affordable housing in the city.
HUD distributes government funding to support affordable housing, community
development, and reduce homelessness. This dataset contains information about
each funding award and the location of the housing development the funding was
used for. This provides insight into how the city is continuing to recover from
the long-term impact of Hurricane Katrina.
This tutorial came about when, after looking at a static map of HUD grants in
New Orleans (pictured below), we wanted to be able to zoom in and examine grant
sites in more depth than a static map provides. Interactive maps are great for
this sort of deep, customizable exploration.
```{r static-plot, echo=F,message=F,warning=F, fig.width=12}
neighborhoods <- read_sf("new_orleans_neighborhoods")
hud_grants <- read_csv("new_orleans_hud_grants.csv") %>%
st_as_sf(coords = c("Longitude", "Latitude"),
crs = 4326, agr = "field") %>%
rename(OCD_Program = `OCD Program`) %>%
filter(OCD_Program != "None")
ggplot(neighborhoods) +
geom_sf(fill = 'black', color = 'white') +
geom_sf(data = hud_grants %>%
filter(Status != 'None'),
aes(fill = `OCD_Program`,
color = `OCD_Program`),
size = 2) +
scale_fill_viridis_d(begin = .4, end = .95, option = 'A') +
scale_color_viridis_d(begin = .4, end = .95, option = 'A') +
scale_alpha_manual(values = c('Active' = 1, 'Complete' = .4)) +
coord_sf() +
theme_void() +
guides(alpha = F,
color = guide_legend(title = "HUD Grant Program"),
fill = guide_legend(title = "HUD Grant Program")) +
labs(title = "HUD Grants in New Orleans Neighborhoods",
caption = "HUD Grant Data from the New Orleans Data Portal\nUpdated 1/7/2018") +
theme(panel.grid = element_line(color = 'transparent'),
plot.background = element_rect(fill = "#FFF1BE"),
text = element_text(size = 16, family = 'Lato'),
plot.title = element_text(hjust = .5),
legend.position = c(.8,.2), = element_rect(fill = "white"), = margin(4,4,4,4),
plot.caption = element_text(size = 12, face = 'italic'))
# Importing Data
## Downloading data from the open data portal
First things first, we need to download the data we want to work with. To create
this map, we'll need two different datasets: the main dataset of HUD grants,
found [here]( on the New Orleans data portal, and a dataset
that contains a shapefile of New Orleans neighborhoods, which can be found
We'll download these by clicking on the Export link, and selecting CSV format
for the first file, and Shapefile for the second (since we're going to be using
that data to map the neighborhood boundaries, it's easiest to download it in a
pre-defined geospatial format).
Download the files, unzip the shapefile, and place the HUD grant CSV and
shapefile folder in your R working directory -- if you aren't sure where that
is, run `getwd()` in your R console.
## Setting up an R session
Now that we have our datasets, let's make sure our R session has the proper
setup. Load the `tidyverse` (used here for data wrangling), `sf` (simple
features package used for geospatial data), `leaflet` (an R implementation
of the [Leaflet]( Javascript plotting library), and
`viridis` ([better color maps](
packages like below.
```{r load-packages, eval = F, message=F, warning=F}
Next, we'll read in the neighborhood and HUD grant data. `read_sf()` and
`read_csv()` are standard functions to read in data, but we'll want to make sure
that our HUD grant data is properly recognized as geospatial data. To do that,
we use the `st_as_sf()` function to transform the Longitude and Latitude columns
of the CSV into simple features for plotting.
```{r load-data, message=F, warning=F}
neighborhoods <- read_sf("new_orleans_neighborhoods")
hud_grants <- read_csv("new_orleans_hud_grants.csv") %>%
st_as_sf(coords = c("Longitude", "Latitude"),
crs = 4326, agr = "field")
# Transforming Data
Now that we have our data read into R, let's clean it up a bit and create some
readable labels for our map. The below code is fairly standard data cleaning,
and will be different for each dataset, so I'm not going to go into it too much
```{r clean-data, message=F, warning=F}
capwords <- function(s) {
cap <- function(s) paste(toupper(substring(s, 1, 1)),
{tolower(substring(s, 2))},
sep = "", collapse = " ")
sapply(strsplit(s, split = " "), cap, USE.NAMES = !is.null(names(s)))
neighborhoods_clean <- neighborhoods %>%
st_transform(4326) %>%
mutate(neighborhood_label = paste0('<b>Neighborhood:</b> ',
hud_grants_clean <- hud_grants %>%
rename(OCD_Program = `OCD Program`) %>%
filter(OCD_Program != "None") %>%
mutate(popup_label = paste(paste0('<b>Partner: ', Partnership, '</b>'),
paste0('Address: ', Address),
sep = '<br/>'))
There is an important point about geospatial mapping in here, however; in the
`st_transform(4326)` we take the neighborhoods dataset and transform it into
the proper projection system. When mapping, you need to make sure all your
spatial datasets are in the same projection system -- in this case, 4326, which
corresponds to [WGS 84](
Another general point about `leaflet`: when we create our grant project label,
we use HTML formatting codes like `<br/>` and `<b>`. It's not necessary to have
a full understanding of HTML to make interactive maps -- certainly these labels
don't *need* formatting -- but knowing how to bold, italicize, and put line
breaks in your labels will make your maps that much nicer and easier to use.
# Mapping Data
It's helpful, when making a map using `leaflet`, to think about the process in
terms of building a map up from its constituent pieces: first you have the map,
then the neighborhood areas, then the grant project markers. Each piece is
layered on top of each other -- physically, in the map, and virtually, in your
code. To emphasize this point, we'll walk piece-by-piece through making our map,
with images of the map along the way.
## Your Base Map
The first step in any mapping project, once you're ready to build your map, is
to choose what your base map is going to be. The `leaflet` package has a variety
of basemaps, which run the gamut from highly-detailed, realistic maps (e.g.,
to stylized art (Stamen's [watercolor tiles]( For this map,
we'll use the OpenStreetMap basemap, since it has a number of nice details that
will help contextualize the grant locations, like landmark names and types.
Below is what the basemap looks like when we've only loaded the map, no data in
it yet. We can still zoom in and move around and explore the OpenStreetMap
tiles, though.
```{r basemap, fig.align = 'center'}
leaflet() %>%
In this code, we used `addTiles()` to add the OpenStreetMap basemap, which works
because OpenStreetMap is the default basemap for Leaflet. If we wanted to use a
different basemap, e.g. Stamen Toner, we'd do something like
You'll notice that the initial view is zoomed out to the whole world; we could
manually set it to be zoomed in on New Orleans, but if we add some of our data
in the map will also automatically focus around that. Let's try it by adding our
neighborhood data.
## Adding Polygons (Neighborhoods)
```{r neighborhood-map}
leaflet() %>%
addTiles() %>%
addPolygons(data = neighborhoods_clean,
color = 'white',
weight = 1.5,
opacity = 1,
fillColor = 'black',
fillOpacity = .8,
highlightOptions = highlightOptions(color = "#FFF1BE",
weight = 5),
popup = ~neighborhood_label)
To replicate the static map above, the line color is set to white and the fill
to black. The opacity of the fill is .8, which is only slightly transparent, to
both preserve the starkness of the initial display of the map, which will look a
lot like the static image, and allow people to zoom in and still be able to see
the basemap detail underlying the polygons. Information overload is a danger
when creating interactive visualizations; having relatively opaque neighborhood
areas in this map (literally) blocks out some of the detail, focusing the
reader's eyes on what you want them to look at.
## Adding Points (Grant Projects)
Now, let's add in the grant programs. To replicate the static image, we're going
to have to create a color palette to color our markers, which we do through use
of the `colorFactor` function in `leaflet`. Our palette is a slightly modified
version of the `magma` palette from the `viridis` family, compressed so that
each color is visible on a dark background (surprisingly, dark purple and black
don't go that well together).
Another important thing to note here, which you may have noticed from the
`addPolygons` call, is that in order to use the name of a variable from our data
in a `leaflet` function parameter, we need to precede it with a tilde (~). This
creates a one-sided formula, which `leaflet` knows to evaluate in the context of
your input data. For example, when we run
`addCircleMarkers(data = hud_grants_clean, popup = ~popup_label)`, the
`popup = ~popup_label` will be evaluated as using the popup_label column from
the hud_grants_clean table.
By now, we've started to add interactive and clickable components to our maps.
You can click on neighborhoods and see the neighborhood label, or click on
different project markers and see which partner organization worked on the
project and the address of the project.
```{r neighborhood-and-markers-map}
pal <- colorFactor(
palette = viridis_pal(begin = .4, end = .95, option = 'A')(3),
domain = hud_grants_clean$OCD_Program
leaflet() %>%
addTiles() %>%
addPolygons(data = neighborhoods_clean,
color = 'white',
weight = 1.5,
opacity = 1,
fillColor = 'black',
fillOpacity = .8,
highlightOptions = highlightOptions(color = "#FFF1BE",
weight = 5),
popup = ~neighborhood_label) %>%
addCircleMarkers(data = hud_grants_clean,
popup = ~popup_label,
stroke = F,
radius = 4,
fillColor = ~pal(OCD_Program),
fillOpacity = 1)
## Adding A Legend
The final step in creating our map is to add a legend to indicate which programs
are represented with which colors. Thankfully, doing this is easy -- we just use
the `addLegend` function and point it to our data, the color palette we used,
the values we're representing on the legend, and add a title.
```{r final-map}
leaflet() %>%
addTiles() %>%
addPolygons(data = neighborhoods_clean,
color = 'white',
weight = 1.5,
opacity = 1,
fillColor = 'black',
fillOpacity = .8,
highlightOptions = highlightOptions(color = "#FFF1BE",
weight = 5),
popup = ~neighborhood_label) %>%
addCircleMarkers(data = hud_grants_clean,
popup = ~popup_label,
stroke = F,
radius = 4,
fillColor = ~pal(OCD_Program),
fillOpacity = 1) %>%
addLegend(data = hud_grants_clean,
pal = pal,
values = ~OCD_Program,
title = "HUD Grant Program")
# Conclusion
In this tutorial, we've walked through how to import, transform, and map public
data to create an interactive map in place of a static map. Along the way, we've
touched on important visualization concepts like avoiding information overload,
the appropriate degree of stylization, and choosing compatible colors. We've
also created a pretty awesome map! Hopefully this tutorial will help you be able
to create your own interesting and useful interactive maps in the future.
If you're interested in walking through this tutorial yourself in R, the
RMarkdown file is available [here](https); just put it in the
same directory as the city data files and you'll be able to run all the code in
this tutorial yourself.
And while we've only worked with this New Orleans HUD grant data in this
tutorial, the import and mapping steps should be applicable to any sort of
public geospatial data. Many cities have easily accessible data in their open
data portals; go out and give it a shot!
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ganapap1 commented Feb 10, 2021

Hi Good Morning
your article is very interesting to me. I could only download csv file and not the shape file. it is not available.
This is the link your article has
I am getting this message"This dataset or view cannot be found, or has been deleted.". could you please help me out

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JeonChangyoung commented Feb 22, 2021

Has the data been deleted now?
I can't find a dateset on the website.

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