Google maps tutorial (part 3/5): How Fusion Tables map works

Usually there are two scenarios when creating a Google Fusion Tables map: 1. you have a file (e.g., a spreadsheet) that has both raw data and geographic data. 2. you have a file that only has raw data, and the geographic data is in separate file.

(This post is part three of a 5-part tutorial on creating Fusion Tables intensity map; the other parts are listed as related posts at end of this post)

Scenario #1: One table with all needed information

A Fusion Tables map is based on a table that contains two types of information: the raw data and the location data; once the table is uploaded, Fusion Tables will pinpoint the location data on the map and attach raw data to that location.

As an example, an agency in Mississippi compiles and maintains a master list of leased facilities in the state; the list is in the form of a gigantic table, has been uploaded to Fusion Tables and is being publicly shared. Below is a screen shot of part of the table, you can also follow this link to check out the real table.

Google maps tutorial

Notice this table has many rows, with each row represneting one such leased facility. Also notice the first column is “Full Address” and this is the geographic information Fusion Tables needs to create a map, if needed. When you click on that red button with a tiny white plus sign, you can choose to add a map view of this table; Fusion Tables will look into the “Full Address” column and plot all the locations on a map, as shown below:

google maps tutorial

Scenario #2: Two tables that need to be merged

In the U.S. population map in part 1 of this tutorial series, I have two tables: one contains state-by-state population numbers, the other one contains geographic information of each state (i.e., shape and boundary). We need to instruct Fusion Tables to pull state name, population and boundary information, and plot the state-by-state information onto a base map.

The typical workflow is that you upload them to Fusion Tables, merge the two tables, visualized the new table on a map, style the map, then share it. To give you an idea what all the tables look like, see below for screen shots of the three tables in the U.S. population map: (a) population table, (b) geometry table and (c) the merged table.

google maps tutorial

google maps tutorialgoogle maps tutorial

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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