How to Create a Concentric Circle Map

Like a circle in a circle, like a wheel within a wheel… The Thomas Crown Affair understood business mapping and concentric circle maps. Well, at least the theme song did.  And I preferred the Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway version. A concentric circle map is a map with a series of circles of varying radii all based on the same center point. Grammerly is going to torture me for opening with this paragraph.

A business map describes your business or aspects of your business in relation to an accurate map of the world. It could reflect a sales territory, an enterprise strategic plan, or  an emergency buffer zone. Your map could be a drive time area with demographic estimates of how many people may be attending the school fair next week or a block-by-block political polling campaign. In the same way that a MapQuest map might describe your vacation plans, a business map describes your organization’s  business.

Concentric circle maps are map visualizations that display multiple circles of varying radii from the same center point. Most business mapping software should include a feature for creating concentric circle maps.

Map Business Online includes a “Radius Tool” for creating radius maps or maps with circles. Typically, a radius map means drawing a circle on top of a ZIP code layer either for visual purposes or to extract the defined areas list of ZIP codes. This could be referred to as a Zip Code Map.

Business mapping software users often create maps with variations on a radius map or circle map. Sometimes they want many circles created at different points across the map one time. Multiple radii on the map functionality is available for full and team subscribers in the MBO Market Analysis tool.

Concentric circles or radii is different than multiple circles. Multiple circles would be many circles around many points. Concentric circles are more than one circle around one central point.

Map users like concentric circles for a bunch of reasons.  Usually these circles represent gradations of service based on distance from a central point:

  • Delivery fees can be noted as Map Text related to each circle. The fee usually increases in proportion to the distance from the center point or warehouse location. For example, $5.00 for deliveries of 10 to 20 miles, $7.50 for deliveries of 21 to 30 miles. And so on.
  • Medical coverage areas with gradations of clinician coverage based on travel times. The time to travel to each circle could be generalized. For example, 15 minutes at 5 to 10 miles, 30 minutes at 11 to 25 miles.
  • Retail store projected customer travel times.  An outer circle for 45 minutes plus, an middle circle at roughly 30 minutes , and an inner circle at 15 minutes. Of course, in Map Business Online a Drive Time view could also be applied in this case.

These concentric map images can be shared interactively as a shared web map or as static files on a website or included in a pamphlet. The user decides how to communicate their concentric circle map message.

How to Create a Concentric Map Circle

  1. Place a center point on the map either by keying in an address in the Address Bar or by simply dropping a point with the Draw Tool’s Add Location button. You could also begin your concentric circle on any point you’ve imported as part of a data set. In any case, simply select your concentric circle center point and the Mini Tool Bar appears right next to the point
  2. On the point’s mini-tool bar select the left most button, “Draw Circle on the Map.” Insert your first circle’s radius distance
  3. Click the Edit Gear on the mini toolbar to adjust color shade, line thickness, fill, or to add text to the circle
  4. To start your second and additional circles, reselect the point symbol and repeat the Draw Circle on the Map process. Repeat until you have all the circles required
  5. Adjust color, fill and thicknesses as necessary using the Edit Gear
  6. Save your work and share as required

Concentric circles are easy to construct once you’ve got the process down. Filling in the various circle layers is tricky because the wider circle fill will trump the inner circle fill. Experiment to see what fill schemes work for your map purposes.

Many user will label the various circles in a graduated scheme perhaps for a delivery charge:

Enjoy all the circles. Euclid did.

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Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035

MapPoint users – please consider www.MapBusinessOnline.com as your MapPoint Replacement.

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