Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Taming the Wild Wild Web: Bing Health Maps

We get a lot of questions about statistics and although we do have resources that we pay for (such as Historical Statistics of the United States and Statistical Warehouse), sometimes our patrons want to a slightly different experience.

Bing Maps, Microsoft's map platform, offers a series of different map apps or overlays that enhances the content of the maps. At this writing, there are 59 different apps covering a variety of topics, such as restaurant suggestions, Japanese earthquake information, roadside attractions, and so forth. Bing Health Maps offers Health and Human Services data by county, with many popular statistics as obesity, infant mortality, and smoking rates.

Here's how you use it:

Go to http://bing.com/maps

Look for the itty bitty map apps button down in the lower left hand column:

You'll then get a pop-up box with the map apps listed. Bing Health Maps should be among the first you see:

Note the update date. The stats here are a little less than a year old, at least. Hopefully, the Bing Apps team will strive to update these numbers as they become available.

The map app takes a minute to load, and it should load (if geolocation is enabled in your browser), to your home state. Interestingly enough, it loads North Carolina if you are on Coker's campus, because the campus Internet service provider is based in the Rock Hill/Charlotte area.

You can pick which state, and the select which community health indicator you want to examine. The map is broken down by county, which is one unique feature that Bing Maps has over the more popular Google Maps.

Clicking on the county brings up a popup with all of the community health indicators listed, in three separate categories. As it stands now, there isn't an easy way to print the information or even compare counties (or states). But it does give you some important information easily, and it invites serendipitous knowledge discovery.

What other Bing Map Apps do you find interesting? Post in the comments below.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Picture of the Day

A green anole keeps a leery eye on the librarian with the camera.