Racial Dot Maps FAQ

  1. Can I include an image of the racial dot map in my work/publication?

    Yes, but we ask that you consult our Access and Use Policy  and appropriately site our work:
    Image Copyright, 2013, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (Dustin A. Cable, creator)

  2. How can I contact the researcher who created the map?

    The creator of the map, Dustin Cable, no longer works at the University of Virginia, and we are unable to provide his current contact information.

  3. What data was used to create the map and how can I access the data?

    The Racial Dot Map uses data from the 2010 decennial census and the “dot density” function in GIS. The data is displayed at a Census Block level (a census block corresponds roughly to a city block and is the most detailed geography available) meaning that the number of people of each race are counted and aggregated at that level. There are millions of census blocks in the United States, so we cannot provide a spreadsheet with that data – it would be too large to open on most computers. However, you can access and download the data from the Summary File 1 for each state and DC.  It is important to carefully review the technical documentation  provided by Census as there are many potential pitfalls that come from misunderstanding the data.

    If you are interested in recreating the dot map for a particular area, you will need to learn to do the following:

    1. Download and work with data from FactFinder.
    2. Get the block shapefile for your state, download the corresponding 2010 Census data and join it to the shapefile.
    3. Symbolize the data using dot density.
    4. Adjust the map for aesthetic appearance and legibility.

  4. Can you provide me a clean data set/database?

    Given the size and complexity of the data it is not practical for us to recreate it and make it available to the public.

  5. Can I download the map?

    No. The Racial Dot Map was developed in GIS and JavaScript by a former member of the Demographics Research Group, Dustin Cable. The map exists now as a standalone web application, querying a database of tiled images that are different based on zoom level. There is no demographic data being actively stored or drawn by the map. There is also no single high-resolution image of the map that can show every dot.

  6. I want to zoom in more on the map. Why can’t I do that?

    Zooming in further than the most detailed setting on the Racial Dot Map would probably not give a more accurate picture. At the highest zoom level, you can already see every individual dot. The dot sizes have also had to be reduced significantly. If the dots are too large, they will cover each other up and make an area look more segregated than it is.

  7. Can you update the map?

    No. All residents of the United States are counted every ten years in the Decennial Census. Data from this census is available soon after at a level of detail reaching all the way down to Census Blocks, which are used in the map. All data on race and other characteristics between censuses is survey-based, meaning it is an estimate generated from a random sampling of the population, not a full count. Survey data is much less accurate and is not available at the Census Block level. The Racial Dot Map can only be fully updated around 2022, when we get the next round of census data.

  8. Can you add additional features to the current map and/or create additional maps?

    At this time, we are unable to modify or enhance the current map or create additional maps, such as a 2000 racial dot map.

  9. Can I get a high resolution image of the racial dot map?

    You can download a high resolution image of the map from our website by visiting the racial dot map page  and clicking on “High Resolution Image of the Racial Dot Map” under Additional Resources.

    We are no longer able to produce customized high resolution images.