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Use maps to find underlying data

A tsunami map file came in handy recently during custom training at the Student Media Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The mapping file shows the value of looking into local geographic data, even if you don’t know how to use mapping software.

More and more local, regional and state governments are posting mapping files on their Web sites – including Santa Barbara county government. Every smart map has an underlying data table. So, even if you don’t use mapping software, exploring a government or university mapping site can lead you to data sets that you might not have discovered otherwise. And if you or someone in your newsroom uses digital mapping software, the free layers can help you show where trends are happening.

The tsunami layer, for example, shows where water likely flow in the event of a tsunami affecting the California coast. We discovered that, yes, parts of the UCSB campus would be under water should a tsunami strike. Now that’s news you can use.

If you are interested in scheduling custom IRE training in your newsroom or on your campus, see details on our specialized training page.

Doug Haddix, IRE training director

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