Creating a ‘distance from’ Google Map

My wife and I are currently campaigning to keep the midwife run birthing unit of St Mary’s in Melton Mowbray open – this was where we had 2 of our 3 kids, and think that it will be a real shame if it is closed.

As part of the campaign, my wife wanted to plot on a map the distances from all the birthing centres in the area – as there is a Government agenda that all people should have the choice of where to give birth (hospital, mid wife run centre or home) and this has been interpreted by some as travelling less than 15 miles. I did some searching and found out that Google Maps could represent this quite nicely – the end result being

Map showing the 'catchment areas' for birth centres around Melton Mowbray

Map showing the 'catchment areas' for birth centres around Melton Mowbray

(click on the image to see the map in Google maps)

To create this, we first of all found the postcodes of the different birthing centres, and used http://www.batchgeo.com/ to create a kml file which will plot the points for the birthing centres onto the map (click here to read an earlier blog post on this)

In the past when I have done this, it gave each point a black and white icon, when I did it this time it applied no icon, so I had to click on each point in turn to format the icons – for this set it was OK as only a small number of points. I will blog again another day showing how you can get the pins to automatically add.

Then I needed to create the radius diagrams around each pin – there are various ways to do this with an exact circle, but the technique that I used actually worked out distances based on a car journey – for this I used http://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-can-i-travel.htm I had to go through my points in turn, and enter the postcode, I then chose my settings (in my case 24 km = 15miles) but I could have used a time. This then again produced a kml file, which I could add to my map exactly the same as with the earlier method.

This technique has obvious uses for geography students, but I can also see this being used by travel and tourism, leisure, business and many more.

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5 Responses

  1. [...] gives instructions on how to create a Google Map from a Spreadsheet of data, and http://davefoord.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/creating-a-distance-from-google-map/ explains how you can create a radius diagram from a pin of either road distances or travel [...]

  2. Hey there, I was born in Melton Mowbray at the Queen Mary’s Hospital so hope you have been/will be successful in your birthing campaign. Nice feature on distances in Google Map – will have a go! Cheers, Jemima

  3. Hello. I want to replicate your catchment analysis, but http://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-can-i-travel.htm freaks out when you get near the sea (my data points are near the coast). Others like cartoo.dyndns.org work, but you cannot extract KML. Know of any other ways to replicate what you have done?

    • Hi Chris – sorry for lateness of reply, but I was away on holiday. Yes – I noticed that the tool mentioned in my blogpost does struggle sometimes when near to a coast – If you change the plot settings to the ‘very accurate’ this will plot more points, which I have found works better. The resulting polygon that it produces though doesn’t extend into the sea, however if you export this and import it into Google Maps, you can manually drag the edges of the polygon to fill in the bits that the freemaptools has missed out.

      I hope that this helps.

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