iMAPS Usage:  Voting Precincts vs. Municipal Corporate Boundaries

Last Updated:   10/4/23  00:14

The iMAPS home page has general information about the tool and a link to detailed Help documentation. There is also a Help dropdown at the upper right part of the iMAPS display; click the three-horizontal-bars icon.

The particular example below shows how to display intersections between voting precincts and municipal corporate boundaries, which is very important for municipal elections. However most of the steps in this example describe things you would do for many other uses of iMAPS, so this can serve as a good introduction to iMAPS in general.

  1. Open the iMAPS program.
  2. Click the Property Search (magnifying glass) icon in the far right sidebar. In the "...Address, Owner, PIN, REID,..." field at the top, enter an address. It could be an address near the area of interest, or you could just enter your own Wake County address and then drag/zoom the map (covered below) to get to the area of interest.
  3. You may be shown a dropdown list as you type the address, showing items close in spelling to what you have typed so far. Click on one of these with the mouse left button. Or just keep typing until only one selection is possible; then click it or press Enter.
  4. If the address was found, that lot will be highlighted on the displayed map and much information about the address will be displayed in a sidebar on the right. There will probably be a vertical scrollbar, given the amount of information to be displayed for the selected address.
  5. You can slide around the map by holding down the left mouse button and dragging. You can zoom in and out by rotating your mouse's scroll wheel, or by clicking the "+" and "-" buttons at the upper left side of the display.
  6. The layers facility of iMAPS lets you overlay the displayed map with colored regions and borders to highlight areas having selected characteristics, e.g., municipal corporate areas. Click on the Layers icon in the far right sidebar; it looks like a stack of three rectangles. Hovering the mouse over an icon will display an explanatory tooltip.
  7. This presents an extensive list of layers you can turn on or off individually. The list is hierarchical -- clicking a layer to turn it on may present a subordinate list of layers you can turn on/off. Multiple layers can be turned on simultaneously. Perhaps the Property layer is turned on by default; you can always turn it off if the property data clutters up what you want to see. Just experiment.
  8. For this example, click the Electoral layer group. Click the triangle icon at the left to display a sublist of layers. In the sublist, click the Precincts layer. This puts a colored border around each precinct and displays precinct numbers. You may have to zoom out to see the result.
  9. Clicking within a precinct does a temporary, light color fill of that precinct. You can turn off the fill by clicking the X in the popup or by clicking within another precinct. Clicking on the "Zoom to" in the popup will center that precinct on the screen, automatically zooming in or out as needed. The popup obscures part of the precinct; you can move it off the precinct by clicking the Dock icon in the popup.
  10. There are settings you can modify for each selected layer. Access them by clicking the three-line icon beside the layer's entry in the sidebar. In the Precincts settings, note the slider. Moving it back and forth controls the transparency of the precinct border lines (and color fill, if present) from 0% to 100%. Such a transparency control applies to other layers you can select, as we will be doing in the next step to color (municipal) corporate areas.
  11. Now also select the Planning and Development layer and then the Corporate Limits layer under it. For this example make sure the Planning Jurisdictions layer is turned off. Note that Corporate Limits also has a transparency slider; it controls the transparency of the fill colors for the corporate areas.
  12. A few of the layers, e.g., Corporate Limits and Precincts, have an associated legend to list the colors/borders used for that layer. Click the Legend icon in the far right sidebar to turn on/off the legend display.
  13. Now by dragging the map, zooming in and out, and adjusting the two transparency sliders, you can easily see how various municipal corporate limits intersect with various voting precincts.
  14. When you are finished, turn off the layers you don't want to see the next time you use iMAPS because iMAPS saves the last selection(s) in case you want to repeatedly have the same views.

Here is an example of what might be produced by iMAPS after some further processing. I wanted to take what iMAPS displayed, add some explanatory text, and create a file for my website which would be easy for anyone to view. After following the procedure itemized above to display the area of interest, I used Microsoft Window's Snip & Sketch tool to save to the clipboard the part of the map display I wanted, then used Windows Paint to turn the clipboard data into a PNG (picture) file. I then used used Microsoft PowerPoint to make the PNG image the background for my slide to which I added a title, the color key sidebar, the arrows, and the text box. Finally, I had PowerPoint save the slide as a PDF file, suitable for uploading to my website. Of course, many other tools could be used to process an iMAPS display.

When multiple layers are selected, sometimes only one layer at a time can be displayed. For example, say you select both the Planning and Development > Subdivisions layer and the Electoral > Precincts layer. When you click on an area in the map, either the associated precinct area will get a blue background or the subdivision area will get a blue background, not both at the same time. You can choose which is displayed by using the arrows in the popup box to go thru the layers one at a time. Note that if you turn off all other layers so only these two are selected, you can easily and quickly flip back and forth between the layers, with their respective highlighted backgrounds, just by repeatedly clicking either of the two arrows. This "flicker test" makes it easy to see where overlaps occur.

It can take a few seconds for layers to display, so be patient. Also some displays may be hard to read, such as the orange borders around subdivision parts; the borders can display even when other layers are displayed. However when the subdivision layer is displayed by itself, there is a blue background thruout the subdivision area and that is very easy to see.

To get an idea of iMAPS' other abilities, take a look at the various dropdowns and buttons, e.g., Property Select and Measure. On the sidebar resulting from an address search (see item 4 above), you can see such things as property pictures, deeds, tax data, and government services/contacts. Using Basemaps you can choose from a number of things to have as a background for the main display, including aerial images, historical views, and topographic maps. Just experiment.

Jeff Knauth