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Cartogram (distorted map) showing recorded crime counts

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Cartogram (distorted map) showing recorded crime counts
The two maps both show levels of recorded crime across Leicestershire at Lower Super Output Area LSOA level (with darker red representing higher levels of crime). The map on the left shows the actual geography of the LSOA areas across the County. LSOA areas each contain roughly 1,500 residents - larger areas on this map therefore represent rural areas with lower-density population. The cartogram, or distorted, map on the right shows the same data at LSOA level, but represents each of the LSOAs as a fixed size hexagon. This avoids the problem of over-emphasising the more rural LSOAs, seen on the left. However, it becomes more difficult for users to understand which areas are which - so a numbered key is used to identify particular areas.
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Benefits & pitfalls to avoid
  • Shaded maps can emphasise large areas much more than small ones - for example highlighting rural areas over urban, if fixed population areas such as Super Output Areas are shown. Consider providing an alternate mode in which values are represented by circles, or values are scaled by the area size (ie showing density).
Create your own
  • Chloropleth maps can be created in a range of desktop GIS applications such as MapInfo and ArcGIS.
  • There are currently no commercial applications that create cartograms, although some routines are available on the web from Cartogram Central and World Mapper.