With Location-Based Data, Maps Can Help Tell the Story

By Lucas Stewart 23 Mar, 2015

Location-based data is packed with insight, but it can be hard to visualize. People are often intimidated by mapping and geocoding, but avoiding maps can restrict the value of location-based data.

Maps are more than just a new layout for your data; they're topical. People make associations with different geographies, so by putting data on a map, you're already telling a story. For example, the Council on Foreign Relations uses a map to measure outbreaks of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines, sparking questions about geographical and political forces at play. Imagine the lesser impact this data would have if it were assembled in a table.

And I'm not the only fan; our community is crazy about maps. Let's take a look at some especially innovative uses of maps in recent times. (Click on an image to view the viz.)

Neil Charles visualized the ups and downs of cross-country paragliding in the UK:

data visualization map paragliding

Peter Gilks of Paint by Numbers imagined the world in which size of countries was proportional to Facebook population:

Facebook data visualization map

In the spirit of love, Clara Siegel visualized top love songs by U.S. state:

data map visualization of US love songs

Here are some other great examples of members of our community using maps to tell their stories:

Pretty cool, huh? Since they're so compelling, maps often grace our Viz of the Day feed, which you should follow for more mapping goodness.

Tableau’s mapping feature is intuitive and flexible, and it's packed with cool features. Some of my favorites are mapping multiple variables at once, and implementing maps in dashboards using URL actions. If you're curious about how to get started with maps, check out these resources:


Don't have Tableau? Here's a free trial.

Now go have fun with mapping. There's a world to explore.


Submitted by Patricia Brower (non vérifié) on

Great post and examples, Lucas. Location based data is both fascinating and incredibly educational. Tableau does a fantastic job at enabling this analysis. It certainly allows us to see things in a way we've never seen before.

Submitted by Lucas S. on

Thank you, Patricia! I appreciate your input, and the stellar discussion you have been providing in the comments.

Submitted by Karl (non vérifié) on

I've done some very well received projects lately with custom geocoding of our sales territories.

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