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Mapping it out;Hands on

Potentially overlooked, Jack Kenny unearths a new program which takes analysis into new directions.

Occasionally, Microsoft makes a mistake. Nowhere in the material accompanying Mappoint 2000 is there any mention of its use in education. A pity, as this will be a marvellous program for use in the classroom, essential for data analysis.

Mappoint 2000 is a program for placing data on to a map of the UK. There is some interesting data that comes with the program, supplied by Claritas, but you can also provide your own.

Having used Excel to input the data, the program will create a graphical representation on the map. In a more mundane way, you can also use the map, which goes down to street level, as a direction finder. Every street in the UK is visible and you can import any of the maps into any of the Office programs.

This is a remarkable tool which takes data handling off into other directions and into new realms. It visualises information and, therefore, makes it more understandable.

The program is mainly intended as a tool to analyse business needs and enable firms to make better decisions through the use of geographic and demographic information. One of its main benefits is its ease of use. The data-mapping wizard makes the creation of thematic maps extremely easy. There is also a data import wizard, but that is not as easy to use.

Considerable care has to be taken to ensure that the data is put into Excel in an appropriate format. Once that is done, you can then select the data on the spreadsheeet and drop it on to the map and it will be mapped straight away.

Detail on the maps includes counties, cities, postcodes and census areas. Data has been supplied by Ordnance Survey and Navigation Technologies, and it is possible to annotate and customise maps. You can also measure the distance between two points in either miles or kilometres.

The program is not entirely bug free, but is rich in ideas and will deepen understanding - it's just a pity that it does not come with notes written for teachers and students.

Mappoint 2000 pound;99 from Microsoft.

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