About this Resource
    Resource Category:
  • Concepts
  • Methods
  • Datasets
  • Examples

Geo-Refer logo Geographical Referencing Learning Resources

Joining Attribute Data to Boundary Data for Mapping Purposes

Frequently, a researcher has attribute data about a set of areas and wishes to map these in order to explore spatial patterns or to carry out spatial analysis. An example might be data relating to policing policies for a set of police beat areas.

Here, we have attribute data for four police beats. We have an identifier for the beat, its name, the number of officers assigned to the beat and the policing authority responsible for the beat.

Record number, BEATID, NAME, NOFFS, AUTH; 1, Westend, 30, Anywhere; 2, Southend, 20, Anywhere; 3, Eastend, 5, Nowhere; 4, Northend, 10, Nowhere

We also have a shapefile (police_beats.shp) containing the boundaries of the police beats, which we can import into, and map within, a GIS (shown here in ArcGIS):

ArcGIS shape file showing the boundaries of selected police beats

Various GIS packages can be used to join the attribute data to the boundary data and then map the data. The specific methodology will depend on the package used, however the basic steps involve: importing the attribute data into a table in the GIS; importing the boundary data into the GIS; joining the attribute data to the boundary data based on a shared item or field.

Copyright Attribution

ArcGIS® is a registered trademark of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI). Access™, Excel® and Notepad are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. The software screen shots shown in this page are reprinted with permission from ESRI and Microsoft Corporation. The maps shown above are based on data provided through EDINA UKBORDERS with the support of the ESRC and JISC and uses boundary material which is copyright of the Crown.