Ari Lamstein

Announcing the R Shapefile Contest

Today I am happy to announce the R Shapefile Contest. The goal of the contest is to encourage and promote high quality work at the intersection of R and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The winner of the contest will:

  1. Get featured prominently on my blog
  2. Get a free copy of my course Mapmaking in R with Choroplethr (a $99 value)
  3. Get a free copy of my course Shapefiles for R Programmers (a $99 value)

In many ways this contest is a follow up to the R Election Analysis Contest (1, 2), which I ran in March, and was the first contest that I ran. That contest was so successful that I decided to run another one!

Why a contest?

Over the last few years I’ve written several R packages, and published several analyses, that use R and shapefiles to make choropleth maps. While I’m happy with this work, I also feel that making choropleth maps is only a sliver of what R can do with shapefiles. I’m creating this contest specifically to promote analyses in R that use shapefiles to do something other than create choropleth maps.

For reference, here is a sample of choropleth maps that I’ve created in the last year:

If you’d like to learn more about this area, and get a feel for the kind of analyses that are possible, then I recommend these two books:

  1. Applied Spatial Data Analysis in R
  2. An Introduction to R for Spatial Analysis and Mapping

How do I enter?

Entering the contest is easy. Just:

  1. Publish an analysis online between today (7/12/16) and Friday July 29, 2016.
  2. The analysis must use R and do something with a shapefile* other than make a choropleth map. (It’s fine if the analysis includes a choropleth map, but it has to so something else as well!)
  3. Leave a comment on this page with a description and link to your entry. I will personally read each entry.

Regarding publishing your entry: If you don’t have a blog of your own, you can use rPubs, which is free.

Your entry must contain code that works and use data that other people can load. Think of yourself as both writing an analysis and teaching other people how you did it.

I will announce the winner on my blog on Monday, August 1 2016.


  1. Can I submit more than one analysis? Yes.
  2. Can I enter as a group? Yes. In the case that everyone in the group will win get their own copy of the courses.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for analyses to do? Do something that you find personally interesting! If you find it interesting, then the odds are that other people will too!
  4. I’m worried that my analysis won’t be good enough! A major goal of the contest is to encourage people to “learn by doing”. Don’t worry about winning the Nobel prize in R.
  5. I have another question. Contact me via my contact page.

How can I help?

Besides submitting an entry, the best way to support the contest is to raise awareness of it. Some easy ways to do that are:

  1. Click the “share” buttons below to share news about the contest.
  2. Click the link below!

[bctt tweet=”Check out the R Shapefile contest! #rstats #gis #datascience” username=”arilamstein”]

*Update (7/14/2016):

A few people have asked if they can submit entries that use the GeoPackage format rather than the Shapefile format. The answer is yes: any file format is fine. The intent of the contest is simply to raise awareness of using R for a broad array of geospatial analysis tasks. The reason why I named the contest the “R Shapefile Contest” is that, at the time of writing, I was only aware of the Shapefile format.

Ari Lamstein

Ari Lamstein

I currently work as a Staff Data Science Engineer at a marketing analytics consultancy. I have 20 years experience developing software in areas such as data science, web development and video games. I have also worked as a technical trainer and independent consultant.

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