Let’s begin …
What are Trying to Achieve?
Looking at reams of data on a csv file can become quite laborious and then add multiple files to the mix and we’re facing a huge headache, so wouldn’t it be nice if we could merge all of our data and display it in an aesthetically appealing, easy to digest format for analysis and sharing our findings with others? The great news is we can! ..
How do we Make our Data Appealing for Everyone?
Google Fusion, an experimental data visualization web application, enables you to remove data from its silo and combine it with other public data on the web so you can put Big Data into context and present it in an aesthetically pleasing format. The output being that the merged data can be displayed in real-time visually as Heat Maps and Intensity Maps, as Charts (Bar, Line..) and in the form of Motion and Timelines. (If you want to drill down your data, it is possible to filter your data based on SQL like queries for more selective analysis.) The added bonus is that you can make your data public so you can share it with the world, or limit it to a few selected people or keep it entirely private- you have control over your data sets and its distribution.
Data: Collaborate > Visualise > Share
A Step by Step Guide:
- To begin, I sourced population data from the 2011 Census on the cso website and I cleansed the csv file to present population by county, removing any spelling errors or duplications.
- Following from this, I sourced a KML file from the Independent source with the county boundaries as my second data set.
- I visited the Google Chrome webstore and downloaded the Fusion Map app (version 0.2)
- Using the Table Upload function, I uploaded both files to my Google Drive (File > New Table), referencing the source and providing a description to provide credit to the origin of the source, for SEO and to assist other users to find the file.
- Next I merged both tables together in order to collate the data. I made sure that the source for each data sets matched e.g. county clare in the csv with county clare in the kml file
- Now I get to see the magic happen. Fusion map has auto detected location information through its Geocode service, so I click on Map of Geometry and view the Feature Map and by clicking on each county I can see the population figures appear.
- I now want to format my map so the variance in population is easily identified. Clicking on the button ‘change feature styles’, opens a tool box for editing.
- I change items such as ‘Points’ marker icons and assign values to the population subsets to group data together in ‘buckets’ in increments from 50,000 to 1,000,000. I also assign small dots so the lowest population regions can be distinguished from the higher population regions with the large dots- this information displays on the ‘county map’.
- I also change the formatting in the ‘Polygon’ section to replicate the population increments in buckets and assign a gradient of blues with the colour getting darker as the area becomes more densely populated.
- I provide a Legend for the ‘Geometry Map’ so the user can easily correlate the colour with the figures. First I update the Title to ‘Population Distribution in Ireland’, then I choose the location (in this case the left side) and next I provide a link reference.
Making my Fusion Map Public
In order to create a Fusion Map that can be viewed by the public I have amended the share feature setting from ‘Private’ to ‘Public’ in the top right of the page. Also, in the toolbar, I have selected tools and publish to obtain the iFrame code for insertion in my Blog.
Fusion Map Live
Now my map is ready for viewing…
Analysis of my Population Fusion Map:
From this Fusion Map it is evident that the most highly densely populated areas in Ireland are the counties with cities i.e. Dublin region in poll position (1,273,069), followed by Cork (519,032) and thirdly by Galway (250,653).
The least densely populated areas are highlighted in light blue and provide a corridor from Sligo in the NW (65,393) all the way through the Midlands to Kilkenny in the SE of Ireland (95,419).
By conducting further research and merging additional data sets with the Fusion Map it would provide insight into the distribution of the population and the tendency for population density to increase in counties with cities. Data that could be used to verify this include the road network, the availability of work, education facilities. technological resources etc.
Fusion Maps turns a matrix of numbers into something visual for even the non-programmer minds. To get started visit the Google Chrome Store .