Data Visualization Tools

Web-based Applications

Example Map Map based upon 2000 Census share of population with doctorate, mapped to census tracts


Social Explorer® Professional

  • Data exploration and visualization tool for U.S. demographic data
  • Based upon expansive data holdings from the U.S. Census, including historical data from 1790 and regular updates from the American Community Survey, as well as information from the American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and InfoGroup on religious and congregational affiliations
  • Abilty to generate custom maps that can be saved or printed

GapMinder Example United States & BRIC countries, Economic Growth in last 10 years; Source: Gapminder Foundation


Gapminder World

  • Data exploration and visualization tool based upon national and international data, drawn from sources incluidng the World Bank, the United Nations, and NGOs
  • Available as an online, web-based application
  • Can also be downloaded and run as stand-alone software
  • Allows for the creation of dynamic visualizations, highlighting changes over time

Word cloud of Gettysburg Address in shape of Lincoln Text of the Gettysburg Address in the shape of Lincoln, created via Tagxedo



  • Data visualization tool to create word clouds using files, websites, or pasted text
  • Easily accessible but also powerful, with many customization options that allow you to control the visualization process and make adjustments to the association algorithms
  • Change the fonts, colors, and shapes of your word clouds to achieve the visualization you desire
  • Save your creations as JPEGs or PNGs or share the images using any of several social media sites and web platforms

Leaflet Mapping diversity (diversity index) by Census tract for part of Brooklyn & Staten Island using the 2010 Decennial Census.


  • Open-source, lightweight JavaScript library for creating interactive maps.
  • Works on all major desktop and mobile platforms primarily for modern browsers
  • Extnedible through plugins.
  • Plugin available in QGIS exporting both vector & raster layers along with styles to leaflet.

Software & Downloads

Forest plot Image used under copyright held by R Foundation


R @

  • Open-source software built around the R programming language
  • Available for PC, Mac, Linux and many other operating systems; installed on the workstations in the DSSC lab and other locations on campus
  • Offers the ability to perform a wide variety of visualizations, with many customizations options
  • Basic programming skills are a big help when using this software!

Example bar chart created with Stata MP 12. Similar charts are available in MP 13. Bar chart showing remittance flows as share of GDP, created with Stata MP 12 using data from World Development Indicators, The World Bank. Similar charts are available in MP 13.


Stata MP 13

  • Statistical analysis software with a wide variety of data visualization options, ranging from simple plots and figures to complex graphical presentations
  • Available for PC or MAC; installed on the workstations in the DSSC lab and many other computer labs on campus, though the version may vary across platforms or labs
  • Has a graphical-based user interface that allows for the creation of visualizations through point-and-click computing
  • Also offers a command-line programming interface for advanced users

Sample map created using ArcGIS Graded restaurants in the Morningside Heights area; created using ArcGIS 10.1 using data from NYC DOHMH obatained via NYC Open Data (


ArcGIS 10.2

  • Geographical Information System (GIS) software with an enormous range of capabilities for creating, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data
  • Available for PC only; installed on the workstations in the DSSC lab and many other computer labs on campus, though the version may vary across platforms or labs
  • Web-based training is available to Columbia students, faculty, and staff through ESRI Online, covering topics from basic introductions to more advanced techniques
  • Integrated with the Python programming language, giving advanced users the option of interacting with the software through a command-line structure