Population density is an important factor when it comes to analyzing many different things.

In the context of our website (preparedness and risk awareness), we might for example, examine population density versus the wide array of risks which could affect many numbers of people – including the various ways to mitigate or avoid them (the risks and/or the people) – and to plan emergency actions based on the expected behavior of the varying densities of people (disaster, etc..)

A new and powerful high resolution mapping tool has been recently developed to indicate population density – literally detailing each person’s census location in the United States, displaying hundreds of millions of dots on a map…

Up until now, population density maps have generally been color shaded representations of regions, even so far as resolving down to the county level. This new map tool however resolves every person as a single dot on the map, and enables the user to zoom in to any region or neighborhood.

Brandon Martin-Anderson, a graduate student at MIT took ‘block data’ from the 2010 Census and transformed it into points on a map. One point per person.


Population Density Dot Map And How It Works

US Census data is available down to the level of the “census block”. In cities these often correlate to city blocks, but elsewhere they may be delineated by other features.

This map tool accesses the census data to retrieve the shape and boundaries of each block and the number of people recorded as living there. Then it places one dot for each person in the block shape.

There are 10 zoom levels to the map, resolving down to the neighborhood level. There is also a toggle on/off for labels with state boundaries, roads, etc..

As you experiment with the various map zoom levels and the blend of dots that they display, it becomes remarkably evident as to where the people live and where they are concentrated in varying degrees of density.

As you’re planning your preparedness actions or your bug-out route, this population density dot map is a great tool…

Update: Unfortunately the website that hosted this map is no longer up. You can view a limited version of his map on the ‘wayback’ archive.org site (here’s the link).

Update: I have also found a similar dotmap from the University of Virginia. It indicates population by ethnicity. I found that if you select “Remove Color-coding” the black-&-white image is easier to view (here’s the link).

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