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Google Fusion Tables Tutorial


Google launched a new service it’s called “Fusion Tables“. It looks like their spreadsheet but it’s more powerful. Unlikely other failed Google Projects, I see a lot of potentials because Google is always good at automating process (while other manual or human interaction based services were failed – e.g. Orkut or Google Answers) . The second reason is because professional users are willing to pay some cash for extra storage and CPU power and Google is one of opinion leaders in the cloud computing market. This service could be competitive against other professional GIS platforms in the next Web X.0 generation. ESRI start moving towered more REST base web service platform with their rich toolboxes. Other web based services, such as Spatical Key or MapBox could be another competitor for visualization market. I did not try them but I often see interesting projects from them. Since Google already has good platform like Google Earth / Map, I wish they polish both authoring and reporting environment for GIS users.

Wikileaks uses to reveal the military data

Wikileaks uploaded military data file into the fusion table. I’m not interested in the political arguments of those data but the presentation is quite good. Users do not need any special knowledge, software licenses, or installation of the software on their desktop in order to achieve a simple GIS analysis such as Interpolation Map (a.k.a Heat Map).

Wikileaks presents U.S. Military Data - Quick and Easy Method to visualize GIS data

CSV to Fusion Table

The first example is importing coordinates. In this example, I’m importing latitude and longitude data of Long Island North Shore.

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North Shore of Long Island

Let’s assume that we have simple latitude and longitude data sets along with extra attributes such as population values. Here is a little demo movie to show how easy to visualize it. Click here to go to the page. You can apply different symbol depend on the attribute. Here is the demo movie.

Click here to see the page.

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Customizing Style in Fusion Tables

Applying Symbols

KML (Polygon) to Fusion Table

Mapping polygon shapes from KML (e.g. exported from Google Earth) is easy too. Here is an example of the process.

Click here to see the page.

This movie contains no sounds.

KML (Polygon) to Fusion Tables

Long Island North Shore Polygon

Creating Color Gradation – From ArcGIS to Fusion Table via KML

I used ArcGIS’s “Export to KML” toolbox. This export tool seems to dump whatever the feature’s label as the “Name” element and the Fusion Table takes the name element as one of the column. Remaining data is dumped as html in the description field. To make this process simple, I changed the feature’s label to the population field. See screenshots below for configurations.

Use Export to KML in Toolbox

Setting Label

The population field extracted as the name elements

When exporting process is completed, you will get .kmz file. We will upload this file and we will apply color gradation based on the population field. I’m showing remaining process in the movie below.

Please turn on the HD Option. This movie contains narrations and music.

Creating Color Gradient Map

States are colored by the population

API and Retrieving Data

Google Fusion Tables supports API for developer and they are similar to Google Docs API. For example, if you need to extract coordinates and zip code where more than 100,000 population, you can directly query on the url with SQL style:

SELECT latitude,longitude,zip,population FROM 20317029
WHERE population > 100000 ORDER BY population DESC

20317029 is my table name which I showed in the previous example. This id can be find in the url when you access the fusion table page. The actual query url look like this.,longitude,state,zip,population%20from%20317029%20where%20population%20%3E%20100000%20order%20by%20population

Then you will get results like :


See more documentations:

Try Fusion Tables (beta):
Fusion Tables

Google Blog Posting


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5 Responses to “Google Fusion Tables Tutorial”

  1. amok says:

    Awesome tut, thanks a bunch!

  2. [...] Google Fusion Tables es una de esas herramientas “escondidas” del gigante de las búsquedas que va más allá de lo que ofrece Google Spreadsheets, aunque su funcionamiento ofrece bastantes similitudes. Lo más ventajoso de Fusion Tables es, sobre todo, que permite manejar hojas de cálculo, archivos CSV y KML de gran tamaño, para ser presentados en forma de gráficos y mapas, con estilos muy depurados y personalizables. Además, los mapas y tablas elaborados se pueden compartir, modificar por bloques y ser utilizados online de forma muy sencilla. Buscando un poco alguna idicación sobre cómo emplear esta herramienta, he encontrado un tutorial muy interesante, que recomiendo repasar a todo el que sienta curiosidad, o necesite utilizar Fusion Tables. El vídeo que acompaña este post forma parte de ese tutorial y se puede considerar como un resumen del mismo: Geo@ObjectGraph – Google Fusion Tables Tutorial [...]

  3. [...] My previous posting covers how to import data from ArcGIS via KML format because KML is the format that Google Fusion Tables accepts. Yesterday, I found a website,, which takes your shape file (.shp) and import it into fusion tables for you. This blog article is not really tutorial because the website is simple enough to use it. However, people who interested in how things work, I’m introducing the walk-through here. [...]

  4. Ahmed Osman says:

    CaroView for the Google cloud.
    Create and publish your custom online map and your geo data in the Google app engine cloud

    You can use CartoView with fusion tables to publish your mapping content in minutes on the cloud
    we have an online version so you can try authoring your own map before you install

    from settings > plugins > fusion tables define all the parameters of your fusion tables then you can publish your map with your data hosted on the cloud, that simple

    - CaroView is Opensource
    - Host your custom map on the Google the cloud
    - Configure, author and publish your map from the browser, no programming required
    - Render your Geodata from Google fusion Tables and external sources (GeoRSS, KML, ArcGIS Server)
    - Select from a large number of plugins to use in your map: twitter, yelp, events, weather and much more

  5. oliver says:

    Hey, great tutorial, I’m doing a mapping project at the moment where I am manually creating kml files for areas.

    Is it possible to query an individual kml file as you would by using the layer.setQuery to locate a single geographical point?

    I am generating multiple kml files for a complex mapping program to show areas in high detail but would like the ability to select what area’s to show without needing a separate table for each one, but can’t find or work out the syntax to do the query command when my targets are kml files. Cheers

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