This post is the first in a five-part series (I. Projection, II. Base Maps, III. Color Selection, IV. Symbology, and V. Legends) which will look at various GIS tools and methodologies utilized by Stratasan.
When we make a healthcare map at Stratasan, we always start by selecting an appropriate map projection. Stratasan’s maps are used to look at patients, hospital service areas, Community Health Needs Assessment, and other various healthcare attributes; it is of utmost importance to consider how our map readers will perceive them. Map projections are important because they convert images from 3D surfaces on the globe to a flat 2D map surface. This conversion always affects shape, area, distance, and distortion. Almost of all of our maps use the North American Equidistant Conic Projection. A projection that probably looks familiar to you. Many maps of the United States use it, including the winner of the “Best In Show” award in this year’s annual Cartography and Geographic Information Society competition.
The reason this projection is a great choice because it balances shape and area distortion, especially in large middle-latitude areas (like the United States). This means that the states’ outlines on the map are close to their actual shapes on the globe and that the distances between them are minimally distorted. These two main factors of the North American Equidistant Conic projection make it great for healthcare mapping. The patient, hospital, and service area maps we make at Stratasan are easy to read, understand and look crisp. The North American Equidistant Conic projection is a great choice for making maps of the United States, especially when we are making maps for an audience that does not have a background in GIS and other cartographic-based skills.
Keep in touch for the rest of this five-part series. Our long-term goal is to showcase our GIS procedures, map products, and show you why our maps look like they do. The next installment will examine base maps we use when making our healthcare data maps.