Digital Mapping: CARTO

I had just finished reviewing CARTO when I went to my mailbox and pulled out this month’s Perspectives published by the American Historical Association. The topic of one of the feature articles? You guessed it: digital mapping.



Same of CARTO map using data from the WPA Slave Narratives, collected in the 1930s.


CARTO (created by Vizzuality) is an open-source, online, cloud-based software system that is sure to please anyone seeking to visualize and store data using geospatial mapping. Basic usage is free with an account; however, better and expanded options are available with a paid subscription. The free account is accompanied by 50mb of storage, and data can be collected and directly uploaded from the web and accessed via desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone. Part of what makes CARTO so intuitive is its user-friendly interface. Users can upload files with a simple URL cut/paste or file drag/drop. The program also accepts many geospatial formats, such as excel, text files, GPX, and other types of shapefiles, making CARTO useful for humanities and STEM-related disciplines alike.  Once multiple data layers are uploaded users can create a visualization and manipulate this visualization through several modes: heat, cluster, torque, bubble, simple, and others. Once the visualizations have been organized and customized, CARTO also provides convenient options to provide links and embed codes to share the map. Finally, CARTO does a great job answering questions with online tutorials, FAQs, and “tips and tricks.” Google maps first ventured into web-based mapping tools, but CARTO takes it to a whole new level.

Whether in a biology lab, pre-cal class, or world cultures — digital mapping is a definite way to enhance a unit. I highly recommend CARTO. Let me know if you’d like a test-drive or tutorial to learn more.