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Photo by Sangga Rima Roman Selia on Unsplash

Now we have a consistent service address field, we can start geocoding to find the XY coordinates. In this article I will concentrate on geocoders, explaining the options I have researched. Then in another article, I will provide a python script used to get coordinates from a pandas dataframe.

I looked at several geocoders. Nominatim, which uses OpenStreetMap, was my favorite option. I already mentioned briefly that Nominatim is more strict on formatting but it is very good for a free service. I have been following OpenStreetMap for several years and its global, open-source community is very stable. …


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Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

In my last article, I talked about cleaning the data for geocoding. Let me talk about geocoders for a moment. There are many options out there. And some you might have heard of. Sure, Google has a very easy to use, well built geocoding service. And if you are processing thousands upon thousands of addresses, I would advise you to look into them. I will not be using Google though. The problem with well-known services like google is that they are limited. There is a free tier structure to them, and past that is a paid service. And once you…


Geocoding is a basic element of mapping. This is taking a list of addresses and giving them an XY coordinate for location. This XY coordinate allows you to add symbology classes to reporting like these examples:

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Photo from personal projects by the Author

There are a few steps to get there. The first is to clean the dataset. Throughout my career, I have noticed the importance of consistency. Even if something was cataloged incorrectly, it is important that it was done consistently incorrect. So understanding how your data is structured is the number one priority. You begin by going through a checklist of:

  • How many rows and…


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Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

I am a business analyst with a GIS past. As an analyst, I am asked to present data in informative ways to executives. This is the beginning of a series of articles in which I will demonstrate how GIS can be used in reporting for the masses. Whether you are a data scientist, an analyst, or a GIS professional, I will show on the fly uses for GIS and how that can transform your report into a universal showstopper. I will start here with why GIS is useful in reporting.

Traditional analyst reporting involves excel bar charts and pie graphs…


A technical dive into narrowing a large dataset.

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Photo by Ashley Jurius on Unsplash

Recently I completed a project to predict at-risk communities for food insecurity in America. You can find information about that project here that includes code and a PowerPoint presentation. For that project, I used government datasets from the USDA called SNAP QC data. These are massive datasets of over 40k records and 800+ features accompanied by a technical document to explain features. I am going to go through a technical analysis of how I narrowed that dataset.

What are QC datasets?

The SNAP program from the USDA uses “QC” data. These are quality control datasets meaning that they have been hand-picked in some way…


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Image: USDA Snap

There are many at-risk groups during COVID, and food insecurity is a major concern when assistance programs started to get defunded during a crisis. Many news outlets are starting to report on this, like NPR and the NY Times. For this reason, I wanted to do a risk assessment on demographics vulnerable to food insecurity during COVID. I used SNAP (formally recognized as food stamps) QC datasets from the USDA to create a prediction model.


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Image: Science News

Culture is a way we define our environment. It can be conceived as a set of rules used to help keep us all working nicely with each other. Since our environments are different, our culture is different. But what does it mean to be human? And wouldn’t the pure building blocks of “human” be in our culture as well?


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Image: Serimag

Let’s keep an open mind and think of culture conceptually as an arbitrary thing. Culture is a set of “agreed upon” rules. Meaning “groups” set them and we all adhere to them. Now think of that as an arbitrary process somewhat. That would mean that it is defined by where you are, what time in history you are, and what your community looks like.

Let’s think about how that helps people survive throughout history. If you are constantly changing and updating how you view your world, you can do more with it. I have a more formal education in the…


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Image: Forbes

In the GIS world, Specialist is usually a versatile word meant for somebody with analyst, developer, and geodatabase skills. In this definition, “versus” is a false dichotomy. Honestly, most GIS skills are data scientist skills. Data Scientists are GIS Specialists, only GIS professionals have the specialty of thinking spatially. As a former boss told me, “thinking spatially is a very unique skill”.

Thinking spatially is a very unique skill.

Let’s take a look at some Data Science techniques:

Image classification is a spatial issue. Bounding boxes around objects are based on pixels with coordinates. GIS professionals have lots of experience…


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Me on break…

As a former archaeologist who ended up as a GIS Supervisor at an electric company, I have a few examples of models to build from that seem vastly different, but when applied to the bias/variance trade-off actually have a lot of modeling similarities.

What does bias look like in archaeology? Well, most of what archaeologists do can be considered bias. The only thing we have left to extrapolate over an entire population is through a biased sample. Those remains just happen to be in a place where people left a lot of stuff and the stuff survived the vigors of…

Melissa Anthony

GIS/Data Analyst/Data Scientist

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