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Below are a list of questions that will help you with specific features of the Long Island Index interactive map

Please email us to suggest other questions we should add.


Navigating the map

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1. I've selected a village, but how do I get rid of the orange highlight?

In the village pull-down list Zoom to village, choose "Zoom to village..." and the highlighting on the map will disappear.


2. How does the red marker red marker work?

Popup window

  • When you click once on the map, a red marker appears on the spot you clicked. This also highlights the village in which you clicked, and displays village statistics to the left of the map.
  • When you click the red marker itself, a pop-up window is displayed that includes several tabs with information about the area around the marker. The "Detailed View" tab shows a "bird's eye" photo view of the area around the marker. The "Downtown" tab provides detailed info about the downtown area, *if* there happens to be a downtown in the village you clicked in.


3. How do I remove the red marker from the map?

If you want to remove the red marker without changing the map, simply right-click it.


4. Can I make the map bigger?

Enlarge map arrows Yes. Click the double-arrow button doublearrowbutton to the left of the village pull-down list. This will "collapse" the left panel and enlarge the map.


5. What does the "Map Options" button in the toolbar do?

The "Map Options" toolbar item displays two options:

  • The Transportation & Reference link opens a legend that lists features on the map such as bus routes, the LIE, LIRR stations, special districts, and more. You can check the box next to each of these items to "turn on" or "turn off" the display of this item on the map.
  • The Regional Views link opens a new window that enables you to add regional views to the map showing villages that meet certain demographic characteristics, such as all the villages with more than 10% population growth from 1990 to 2000, or all the villages with population densities of 10,000 people or more per square mile.


6. I've opened the "Transportation & Reference" legend, but I can't click some of the checkboxes. What do I do?

Some items can only be turned on or off if you're zoomed in close enough on the map. Once you zoom in beyond a certain point (and it might be a different "zoom level" for each feature), you'll be able to check or uncheck these boxes.


7. How can I zoom in and out on the map?

Zoom tools There are several ways to zoom in and out. These are:
a) Click the "In" or "Out" buttons on the zoom slider [see image at right];
b) Move the slider up or down;
c) Double-click on the map (this will zoom in one level); or
d) Hold down the shift key on your keyboard and simultaneously use your mouse to "draw a box" on the map. When you let go off your mouse button, the map will zoom in to the area of the box.
Zoom box


8. How do I zoom out to show all of Long Island?

Zoom out to Long Island The map navigation buttons can be used to zoom all the way out in one click. Just click the Long Island Index logo LI Index logo in the middle of the North/South/East/West arrows and the map will zoom all the way out.


9. I clicked in the wrong place and the map jumped around. How do I go back to the map I was just looking at?

There are "Back" and "Forward" buttons above the map navigation tools Back/forward buttons. If you click the "Back" button, the map will revert to the exact area you were just looking at before you clicked in error. You can click "Back" for up to 5 previous map views, or "Forward" for the same number of views. If either button is gray, there aren't any map views to jump to.


10. Can I zoom in to a particular landmark like a park, shopping center, or housing development?

At this point the only geographic area you can automatically zoom to is a village, using the pull-down list above the map. But once you've zoomed in close enough, areas of interest such as colleges, parks, and major retail centers are labeled on the map.


11. Can I use the "Overview Map" to move around on the main map?

Overview map Yes. The red box on the Overview Map highlights the area of the main map that you've zoomed to. You can move this red box within the Overview Map to jump to another area of Long Island. The main map will stay at the same zoom level.
NB: you can also minimize the Overview Map if it's blocking the main map -- just click the "Close" button. You can re-open it when you'd like to see it again.

Info about data on the maps

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1. The map shows villages, but does it also show hamlets (i.e., unincorporated villages)?

The maps use a list of 290 villages across Long Island from the U.S. Census Bureau. This includes traditional, or "incorporated", villages as well as all other communities that are sometimes referred to as hamlets or unincorporated villages. For example, the incorporated village of Roslyn is included as well as the unincorporated area of Roslyn Heights (in the Town of North Hempstead). The Census Bureau created boundaries for all of these areas that match the official boundaries of the incorporated villages as well as the generally accepted boundaries of the unincorporated areas. For convenience, all of the communities are referred to on the maps as "villages."


2. How recent is the land use information? What about the photos? Is the Census data from 2000?

  • The land use data for Nassau County is from April 2009. The land use data for Suffolk County is from September 2007;
  • The aerial photos are from 2006 (but the "bird's eye view" photos are circa 2008-2009); and
  • The Census data that we used for the maps is from 2000, but we also include comparison statistics for each village from 1990, and for several towns and Long Island overall from 1990, 2000, and 2005-2007.


3. When I'm viewing the "brain drain population" map, I notice areas here and there with high concentrations of people age 18-34. Why would these patterns seem so random?

Map example of 18-34 year olds near college campus It's likely that these areas are near colleges or other institutions of higher education [see image on right]. If you zoom in close enough, you'll see college names on the map located nearby. The Census block groups likely include dorms or other college housing.


4. How come you have 2005-2007 Census data for only some villages and towns?

The 2005-2007 Census data is from the latest publicly available American Community Survey (ACS). This is a sample survey that the Census started collecting annually starting in 2004. Data for 2005-2007 represent a three-year average . However, this information is only available for areas with a population of 20,000 or more. Also, the ACS suppresses data even for areas with 20,000 or more people if the sample size is too small, and this threshold applies to each Census variables. So it's possible that the Index map displays 2005-2007 population density for a particular village but does not display "brain drain" data for that same village. In this case, the sample size for specific age categories may have been too small, while the overall population statistic met the Census Bureau's threshold.


5. How often will you update the maps?

The maps will be updated as follows:

  • whenever existing data is updated by the source agencies (for example, we expect that we will update the land use maps and statistics with 2008 data when both counties provide that information sometime in 2009; or when the Census Bureau updates its information with the 2010 decennial Census);
  • when new data is added, such as information about health indicators or mortgage statistics that we expect to add later in 2009; and
  • when more comprehensive data is provided, such as more detailed land use information.

The photos will be updated if and when new aerial imagery is provided by the New York State GIS Clearinghouse, likely in 2009.


6. Why did you use Census block groups -- instead of tracts or some other geographic area -- for your maps?

  • Census block groups generally contain between 600 and 3,000 people. Block groups are smaller than Census tracts, and are the smallest unit of geography for which the Census Bureau provides detailed population data. Census blocks are the smallest unit of geography used by the Census, but the data available at the block level is limited to basic population and housing counts, not the more detailed socio-demographic statistics at larger geographies.
  • We did not use the more common Census tracts to create the maps of population and housing data for this website because in many cases tracts were as big if not larger than villages. This meant that we could not display variation or patterns within villages if we used tracts for the maps.


7. I'd like to map some demographic characteristics that you don't have as an option -- such as hospital locations and health statistics. Can I do that?

Currently we don't have the ability for users to upload their own information. However, please email us if you have suggestions for data that would improve/enhance the maps and we will consider adding it. Ideally the information would help inform the issues that have been raised by the Long Island Index in its reports, public opinion surveys, and special analyses.


Service Providers

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1. How can I find all the service providers for my home?

Address search The easiest way is to use the Address Search. This is a new feature, located in the grey menu bar along the top of the map (see screen shot at right). Simply enter your street address (with village, state, and ZIP Code), click the "Go" button, and the map will zoom in on that area, highlight your village with an orange border, and display a popup window with information about all the special districts covering that location.


2. How can I find all the service providers for my community?

Select the village/hamlet you are interested in from the drop down box Zoom to village/hamlet at the top of the maps. A solid orange line will appear showing you the boundaries for the village/hamlet. Sequentially go through each of the service providers on the left-hand panel to learn who provides services within that boundary.


3. I live in an incorporated village. Why are all the lines for the service providers overlapping for my village?

Many incorporated villages provide all or most of the police, fire, water, sewer and garbage services for their residents. Local taxes cover the costs of operating each service and management is provided by staff members of the village.


4. I think there is a mistake. How do I get it corrected?

Service providers and service areas change over time. If you see something that needs to be updated, please email us.


5. There is too much on the map. How do I turn off place names and other features so I can just see the districts?

Display other featuresAt the top of the left-hand panel, there is a check box "Display other map features" (image at right). Unclick this option if you do not want to see other map features (major roads, location names, etc.). If you want some features on and others off, go to the Map Options feature at the top of the maps and select the specific items you want from the "Transportation & Reference" listing.


6. What is the difference between all of these types of districts?

On Long Island, most services have been provided by incorporated villages, towns, the county, the state, special districts or other authorities, districts or for-profit or not-for-profit corporations. For a more detailed description of these types of structures, see the document, "Who Provides Services on LI?" [PDF].


7. Do you have information on how many people voted in my special district's recent election?

Data on the number of people who voted in a local election is maintained at the local level. It is not kept by the county or state Board of Elections. Occasionally the data is published in local papers or in Newsday. This is an update that we would like to add for future releases of the maps. If you have data about the number of people who voted in a local election, please let us know.


8. Do you know how much people pay for services in each district?

This type of analysis requires gathering a tremendous amount of data because a meaningful comparison has to look at the costs for homes that have similar property values; you can't use averages for an entire district. You have to ensure that you are comparing costs for similar services. Garbage pick-up, for example, varies between households that have curbside pick-up versus those that have back/side-door pick-up. When looking at costs for water, you have to compare both the taxes that are paid as well as the usage charges. The only research on how much residents pay for sanitation, water and fire in special districts was collected and compared in 2007 by the Nassau County Comptrollers Office. The report is available online [PDF].

Comparisons of school taxes is available from the Long Island Index based on a study conducted in 2009. [PDF]


9. I don't see the lines for individual properties. How do I turn that on?

First, make sure that the option "Display other map features" is turned on (find this option on the left-hand panel, top). Then, go to the "Transparency Slider" Transparency slideravailable below any of the service options. Slide the bar toward the right and the underlying layer will become visible.


10. Why don't you show the service providers for Suffolk?

We are currently working on mapping the data for Suffolk County and hope to provide it later in 2012.


11. When I zoom out to see a wider area, I lose the place names. Why?

Zoom toolsPlace names and district names only appear when the size of the district is large enough on the screen to display the full name. If you don't see a name, zoom in one or more levels (using the in-out slider on the left hand side of the maps - see image at right) until it appears.


12. Can I compare my districts to others?

It depends on what you want to compare. We have taken all the data that we used to create the maps and made it available in an Excel spreadsheet. You can download the data here [Excel spreadsheet].


13. How many total districts are there in Nassau County?

In Nassau County there are a total of 322 service providers: 22 for Police, 18 for Sewers, 56 School Districts, 54 Library Districts, 70 Fire providers, 40 for Water providers, and 62 for Garbage. For more details, see the detailed listings in the attached Excel spreadsheet. You can download the data here [Excel spreadsheet].


14. How did Long Island service providers get to be so complicated?

Services such as fire, police, water, sewer services, are provided either by the county, the town or incorporated villages. In unincorporated areas, special districts were created beginning in the early 20th century to provide similar services and have the authority to tax residents to pay for themselves. To learn more about how districts were created, read the report by the Center for Governmental Research.


15. I don't live in an incorporated village so how are the boundary lines for my community drawn?

We show the boundary lines for cities, towns, incorporated villages, and unincorporated villages (sometimes referred to as "hamlets") within each town. The geographic boundaries for these jurisdictions are delineated by local officials, then provided to the US Census Bureau for use in enumerating the population for the decennial census, and then provided to the public for analysis and display with computer mapping software. This project makes use of these geographic files from the Census Bureau.


Viewing satellite/aerial photos

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1. I clicked the "Satellite" option in the toolbar, but nothing seemed to happen. What do I need to do to make the photos appear?

By default, the satellite (or aerial) photos are displayed underneath the other map information such as land use or Census patterns. You'll either need to use the transparency tool (ext.js transparency image) to "see through" the Census maps or land use patterns (by making them partially or 100% transparent), or turn off the display of the land use or Census maps.


2. How do I access the "Bird's Eye" photos?

Simply click once on the map. When the red marker appears, click the marker and a pop-up window is displayed that includes several tabs with information about the area around the marker. The "Detailed View" tab shows a "bird's eye" photo view of the area around the marker. You can double-click the photo to zoom out or in slightly, and you can click the "plus" sign Plus sign image to increase the size of the photo. If you click the "X" X image the window & photo will disappear.
NB: If you only click the "X" X image, the red marker will still be on the map. You can right-click the marker to make that disappear.


3. When I click on the red marker red marker to display a bird's eye photo, how does the area of the photo correspond to the spot I clicked on the map?

Example of crosshair on Bird's Eye photo There is a light red crosshair in the middle of the photo. This corresponds to the spot on the map that you clicked. This should help you compare locations.


4. I've clicked on the marker and the photo appears, but I can't move the popup window to see the whole photo. What do I do?

You'll need to move the map itself by dragging it so the full photo comes into view. The photo is "anchored" to the red marker, and the red marker is anchored to the map. So moving the map, in effect, moves the photo.


5. How come the satellite photos seem to change as I zoom in? (when I'm zoomed out the photos look greenish, but when I zoom in they become more brown)

When you're zoomed out, satellite imagery is displayed that comes from a web service provided by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI); when you're zoomed in the photos are from a web service provided by the NYS GIS Clearinghouse (via the US Geological Survey). The difference in color and "look and feel" is likely due to different image technology used by the different photo sources.