Geographic Information Systems Mapping (GIS) allows data to be spatially referenced. Depending on the desired effect, maps are created to further explore data sets. An advantage of GIS maps is their ability to be tailored to specific research questions. The maps displayed here are examples of count, percentage and density maps, however there are a variety of other maps that can be created depending on the desired outcome.
Density maps indicate the amount of a desired indicator or outcome per unit area. Figure 1 is a density map of women who smoke during their pregnancy in Florida. You can see that based on all births in the state, the majority women who smoke during pregnancy per unit area are located in the major metropolitan areas. The darker the color on the map, the higher the density is.
Percentage maps indicate the percentage of a desired indicator or outcome per zip code or census block group. Figure 2 is a percentage map of women who smoke during their pregnancy per zip code. Although the density map shows that the majority of women in Florida who smoke during pregnancy are located in metropolitan areas, rural areas in the state have higher overall percentages of smokers in their zip codes. Even though there is a much lower population in these areas, they suffer a higher burden of smoking.
Count maps simply give you the actual counts for your desired outcome per zip code or census block group. Figure 3 is a count map of all births in Alachua county per census block group from 2003-2005. The count is given for each block group.