https://www.excelacom.com/resources/blog/tableau-geospatial-reporting-made-easy/

Feb 17, 2015

Tableau: Geospatial Reporting Made Easy

By Joe Petrides

Moore's law is seemingly unstoppable.

While most of the technology discussion behind modern analytics talks about big data, we should also remember that faster processing, cheaper storage, and better management tools are creating new capabilities for traditional reporting. For lack of a better term, instead of "Big Data" we will call this "Lots of Data" or LoD.

LoD is already democratizing data within our client's organizations. We increasingly see business teams coming to IT and asking not for a report, but rather for direct access to a reporting database. They come with their own tools, their own SQL jockeys, and their own reporting framework. Due to LoD and business teams taking over reporting, software tools are being created or re-engineered to be less technical and more business friendly. Even traditional BI vendors such as Cognos, Microstrategy, and Microsoft are transitioning their products to be more accessible to business organizations.

This is the LoD world, and Tableau is the map.

LoD is already democratizing data within our client’s organizations. We increasingly see business teams coming to IT and asking not for a report, but rather for direct access to a reporting database.

Tableau, one of the most popular tools in this category, has geospatial reporting capabilities – one of the most exciting contributors to the LoD revolution. This unique type of reporting shows results using a map with geographical boundaries.

Geospatial reporting has been around for a long time, but it requires what was once considered a great deal of processing power as the reporting back-end needs to do a lot of geometrical calculations based on the shape metadata and the curvature of the earth. In addition, the report needed a mapping back-end that stored all the data to support the background maps. You really had to have your own equivalent of Google Maps.

Servers and even desktops are so powerful now, and cloud computing has become so ubiquitous that these calculations no longer present the same performance challenges as they did before. Background mapping layers are no sweat either thanks to Google, Nokia, Microsoft, Open Street Maps and others.

In fact, cloud-backed geospatial reporting can now be done in Microsoft Excel! While this type of reporting still requires a learning curve and is always going to be more complicated that producing old-fashioned grid reports, we are here to help close that gap and show that you do not need to be an expert to create compelling geospatial reports.

The videos below show an end to end use case for creating a geospatial report in Tableau using custom geometry data. The best part is that this is done using freely available tools and data. Enjoy.

Tableau Tutorial Part 1: How to find a Shape file
Tableau Tutorial Part 1: How to find a Shape file
Tableau Tutorial Part 2: How To Use Affine Transformation
Tableau Tutorial Part 2: How To Use Affine Transformation
Tableau Tutorial Part 3: How to Export Data
Tableau Tutorial Part 3: How to Export Data
Tableau Tutorial Part 4: How To Load
Tableau Tutorial Part 4: How To Load
Tableau Tutorial Part 5: Tableau's Internal Geodatabase
Tableau Tutorial Part 5: Tableau's Internal Geodatabase
 
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Joe-Petrides

Joe
Petrides

Joe Petrides is a Manager at Excelacom. Mr. Petrides' tenure at Excelacom includes IT and business transformation initiatives at the largest US service providers. This experience includes working on some of Excelacom largest product implementations of both its Century Test Automation Suite and its flagship Century product suite.

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Innovation meets performance.