4 Replies Latest reply on Jul 26, 2017 1:43 PM by Catherine Brown

    Creating School District Boundary Maps


      Hi Everyone,


      I'm very new to Tableau but was hoping someone could help me out.  I want to create a map that has school district boundaries.  I currently have county boundaries.  Can anyone let me know how and if this would be possible?



        • 1. Re: Creating School District Boundary Maps
          Joe Pine

          I think the best way to do this would be to create a custom map image showing your boundaries and then use that as the background to your vis. (or scan in your existing boundary map)


          like this: http://onlinehelp.tableausoftware.com/current/pro/online/en-us/help.htm#bkimages_add.html



          • 2. Re: Creating School District Boundary Maps
            Mike Mainzer

            You need to get the shapefile for the boundaries, which the census bureau has (I don't have any links at hand right now).


            Once you get the shapefile for your particular state(s) boundaries, you can go about this a couple of ways.


            1. You can use a GIS tool like ArcMap and convert the polygons to points (there are all sorts of tutorials that will come up after a quick google search). The output will be a file that you can then place into Tableau and you'll have a map. There are also tools built by people that will convert a shapefile into a Tableau-usable format for mapping.
            2. The other option is to get the shapefile for the district boundaries from Census Bureau and then, using either ArcGIS, QGIS, or some other service, like MapBook, create a background map with that layer. Publish that map you created and then, in Tableau, connect to the map via the server, and the OpenStreet maps will be replaced with your background map. Now you can plot things on top of this map that has your district boundaries.
            • 3. Re: Creating School District Boundary Maps
              Nicholas Hara

              Hi Shannon!


              With the release of Tableau 10.2, shapefiles are now supported. I pulled the district shapefile for NYC off their open data portal and have been analyzing school data in 10.2 without issue.


              It looks like all you need to do now is simply update to the latest version of Tableau, obtain the shapefiles for your districts, and start analysis!


              Hope this helps!

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              • 4. Re: Creating School District Boundary Maps
                Catherine Brown

                Prior to 10.2 this was possible using a few hacks using shapefiles, but I don't recommend going this route.  It was a pain, and often times the shapes ended up being overly complex and difficult to render. You also had to download quite a bit of additional software, with some add-ons and other things.  This post gives you an idea of the fun. Step By Step Instructions – ShapeFile to Custom Polygons using Open Source GIS (QGIS)


                10.2 makes this much easier, but you'll still need a custom shape file from somewhere.


                Depending on what state your in, as the other user suggested, your state education agency may have this posted for districts.  For instance, I'm in Texas and our state agency released their files using ArcGIS public, http://tea-texas.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html. If they haven't released it publically, perhaps shoot them an e-mail and see if they have a GIS office with this information.


                If you are talking boundaries within a district, I think generally most do not release these files publically.  At least here, our school boundaries change at least once a year (high growth district).  Internally, we have a GIS specialist that has this data, and I plan on using his custom ArcGIS shapefiles once we upgrade server to 10.2.