About » Technical Overview » Layers in the Map
Our goal is to deliver the complete volume of the National Broadband Map (NBM) to you in a way that is fast, efficient, easily digestible, and mashable. To accomplish this goal, we assemble the NBM geospatial dataset in a multi-part process. First, we review 25 million + source records submitted by States and Territories across all source layers in a data submission. Second, we group the data submissions into a consumer recognizable provider name (i.e. Holding Company Name) and broadband offering. There are over four thousand unique company "doing business as" names, representing almost 2,000 holding companies. In total, there are thousands of unique combinations of employed broadband technologies and advertised upload and download speeds. Finally, we create eight different layers of geospatial data in which speed and technology is spread across multiple geographies and layers. These individual layers by State/Territory must be analyzed and combined into a single massive data layer to drive the NBM site.
Our challenge then is to aggregate these into meaningful map layers that present the data in the most useful and efficient fashion to map users.
Single Color Maps
To meet the usefulness goal, we decided to present all our maps as single color. The map legend is actually a filter that the user chooses based on their interests (e.g., the technology type, speed, or provider). We felt that other web maps that provide multiple ranges of color values make it difficult to connect the map to the legend. Our approach gives you a fast and clean map, which can be easily interpreted for community meetings, policy discussions, or personal interest.
Very Fast Maps
To allow users to engage with our maps, they must be fast. We apply common geographic operations to distill a massive dataset down to the smallest number of unique combinations across the nation. This approach means we keep the full volume of data but present it as the unique combinations available in the dataset. For instance, our 25 million + areas became 400,000 areas representing the combinations of provider, technology and advertised speed. We further reduce these 400,000 areas down to the unique combinations of providers only (1,000+), or technology types (10), or speed combinations (100). Finally, we show only the combinations that are required, based on your selection, and we cache it. This approach you get your map fast.