Balls vs Maps
When you think of data visualisations, chances are you either think of giant balls representing quantities, or interactive maps. I suspect maps are such a popular topic for data visualisations for a number of reasons:
- The ubiquity of Google Maps means most people are completely au fait with and regular users of online maps
- Particularly in the UK, digital maps show the enormous weight London exerts upon almost any given topic, from population to unemployment to number of puppies currently learning to negotiate stairs (probably)
- Hey, I can see my house from up here!
Handily, there are many examples 0f proprietary software out there which make creating interactive maps relatively easy, provided you have the data. These include iMapBuilding and Tableau, although my favourite because of its versatility and ease of use has to be CartoDB.
CartoDB’s strength lies in the fact that you can easily combine Google Maps data with the other data you want to use. This means that once you have the Google coordinates (and they are widely available) it is simple to combine the data set you want to visualise with that Google data.
Once this is done, you have the option to merge the data right from the home screen. It’s really, almost ridiculously simple once all the data is entered.
The vast suite of options available also mean that the map you produce is massively customisable. I’ve still got to play around with it a lot (and will, because it was genuinely fun to produce an interactive map of my very own) but as you can clearly see, I already managed to make my density chart a rather fetching shade of green.
As with most things, the best way to learn a skill is to fiddle about a bit and make a lot of mistakes first, and CartoDB is no different: If you’re interested in interactive maps, I’d suggest you start here.