Tool Talk #2: Using Mapping to Visualize Federal Grant Winners

Tool Talk #2: Using Mapping to Visualize Federal Grant Winners

Maps are an excellent tool for conveying information, but what if there’s too much information, and you don’t know what dimensions you’ll want to filter on?

Using maps of the TIGER and BUILD grant awards from 2016-2020, I present and discuss a Shiny app that can help filter and find awards of interest in a flash. The RAISE grants that many agencies submitted this week are the latest iteration of this competitive grant program (we’ll update this view with those awards in a couple of months).

Interactive tools have an advantage over narratives or summary statistics, where a wealth of detail isn’t easy to convey. It’s relatively easy to access summary tables and see descriptive statistics across dimensions for projects that have been funded in the past, but it’s not as easy to identify individual projects that may be relevant to your specific situation.

Making a marker for each of the 297 awardees from the years 2016-2020 results in a crowded map, and a static map taking a subset – only 2020 awardees, for example, or only awards that were above $10 million – has to anticipate what viewers will be interested in.

To address these and similar limitations, I construct interactive tools like this one that provide simple filters on the left-hand panel to pare down projects to those of interest. For example, if you want to see rail projects funded in the last few years, use the check boxes for Select Years to filter for projects from 2018, 2019 and 2020. Under Select Project Types, uncheck everything except “Rail.” Finally, select an award size – in the example below, we’ve used the slider to exclude the smallest and largest grant sizes.


Description automatically generatedNine awards fit these criteria. If you happen to be in the Midwest, you might want to learn more about a project in Missouri – clicking on the marker tells you more about the project. In this case, a project to extend tracks at the Sedalia Rail Industrial Park was funded and the grant itself was profiled in a "how-to" piece on grant writing.

To see the awardees in list form, click on the Data tab to view a table format with sorting buttons and a search function built in.

Graphical user interface, table

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Click here or on an image above to reach the free complete tool. If you have any feedback or feature requests, contact me at or via our general e-mail,