PolicyMap: Getting Started

The basics of using the PolicyMap database

What is PolicyMap?

PolicyMap is a GIS mapping tool that allows users to manipulate and plot data by geographical location.  Data included in PolicyMap ranges from Census data (including income, education, and housing), bankruptcy data, food availability information, crime stats, and health data. 

Data Layers vs. Data Points

Data Layers and Data Points

  • These will appear on the menu under each large theme of data (includes Demographics, Quality of Life etc.) in columns.
  • Data layers are thematic, and will appear as colored maps, with the darkest colors representation the highest concentration of that data theme.
  • Data points are address specific sites.  Some examples include the location of schools in a given area, or the location of farmers' markets.   These show up with a "pin" to show the location on the maps.

Locations and Custom Boundraries


Most searches in PolicyMap will start with a location search, which is available at the top of screen.  The default search is an address search.  You can enter an exact address, or a geographical region (such as Binghamton, NY). 

More location search options are available in the drop down:

When your location is found, a data pointer will appear on the map.  Your location or geographical area will be bordered in orange.  Clicking on the map will produce an information bubble that will provide more geographical information about the selected area.

You can also create your own boundaries or regions by using the "Create Custom Regions" feature at the bottom of the screen.  Custom regions can be saved for easy retrieval (using the My Custom Regions button), and can also be shared with specific users.  The regions do not have to contain contiguous areas.
For details on how to create and work with custom regions, see:

Printing and Sharing

Saving Data
If you save your custom regions, maps or other work in PolicyMap, it will save to the Binghamton University Libraries account, and become available for all users logging in on the Libraries' subscription.

If you want to have a private account through our Libraries' subscription so your data will not be shared, contact PolicyMap directly for more information. 

Sharing from PolicyMap

PolicyMap offers the following methods of sharing your results.  Not all options will be available for all search types (maps. tables, 3-D maps and reports).

The options that are available for each search will be present in the top right of the screen.


  • Email provides a link directly to the results, such as a created map.
  • Printing will first add the file to the Saved Work area, and you can choose to save it first as a PDF (for printing) or as a .JPG or .PNG so you can easily add it to other documents.
  • Saving your map makes it available in the Saved Work area, where it can be viewed by anyone using the Binghamton University Libraries' PolicyMap subscription. 
  • The Embed option, which generates HTML to be able to insert objects such as Maps directly into a website, is only available for individual accounts.    If you want to use this feature, contact PolicyMap directly about creating an individual account through the Libraries' subscription.

Subject Librarian

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Sarah Maximiek
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