I'm trying to figure out

(1) what this type of map linked here is called (I've been unable to find the name through search), and

(2) whether there is an Arc tool that will transform a shapefile or feature class with geospatially referenced polygons into a map like this where the relative spatial positions of the polygons are preserved, but the areas are equal and the shapes are transformed?

3 Answers 3


(1) I have usually heard of it referred to as a "Hexagonal Map" or "Hexagonal Grid Map". Both queries turn up a lot of relevant results in Google. Example Link Here: http://anitagraser.com/2012/03/04/mapping-density-with-hexagonal-grids/

The link above also outlines the process that you would use in QGIS.

If you want to do it in ArcGIS. This article from the ESRI blog offers some insight into the flow in model builder and also a link to the geoprocessing package you can download. Package Link Here

  • Thanks so much, but these links don't appear to be quite what I am looking for. What I'd ideally like is some sort of "function" that takes a polygon shapefile (in which polygons may have very different areas/perimeters) as an input, and outputs a polygon shapefile in which all polygons are the same size and shape (perhaps hexagons, though squares could do equally as well). Additional searches suggest that these are termed "cartograms." Jun 16, 2015 at 4:30

This is also called "binning", which when applied to hexagon polygons, is referred to as "hexagonal binning" or simply "hex binning". There is a top-notch blog article (Binning in GIS) at GIS Lounge on the subject, which points to an Esri blog that explains how to create the maps in ArcGIS

Using a binning technique for point-based multiscale web maps

enter image description here Source: Binning: An Alternative to Point Maps

  • 2
    Binning point data into equal area shapes is not the request here (and is much easier than what is being requested). What is wanted is to take geographic areas of unequal size and transform them into equal-sized tiles that preserve as many of the spatial relationships as possible.
    – matt_black
    May 28, 2017 at 10:59
  • @matt_black You'll notice the map in question 1 is a hex grid of equal sized polygons.
    – Aaron
    May 28, 2017 at 12:11
  • The visualisation has equal sized polygons but the polygons represent a very wide range of different geographic areas. The point is to create a visualisation where the visual impact of each area is the same (so each tile has equal population/electoral vote/metric of interest).
    – matt_black
    May 28, 2017 at 12:22

I have the same problem, and as above I am not trying to aggregate point data to a continuous hexagon surface but instead I'm trying to take different sized polygons and resize them to be the same size for visualising data.

I've found this: https://github.com/JoshData/cartogrid

But I have not had success running it, maybe it'll work for you. But it would be nice if there was a Python 2.7 version or an ArcGIS solution.

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