Friday, October 15, 2010

Visual Rollups

Oftentimes the users of a visual mashup want a higher-level view of data that does not necessarily bog them down into viewing a million points on a map, all vying for attention.  Over the years we've done various things to manage that fire hose with the goal of providing a rolled-up view of the data for folks who need more of a summary or executive view of a situation or a trend.  How do we cram a bunch of stuff into that global view?  Here are some examples of things that have worked out for us...

Extrusions are geographically positioned bar chart elements. Their relative height and/or color are data-driven and can represent a whole value, a calculated rate, or status.
Optionally through the SDK, these extrusions could be individually broken out into stacked bars to show the proportion of multiple categorical values at a location.
In this example they are placed geographically and in the context of a correlation chart to show a 1-week trend.

The timeline is an easily navigated interface for time-aware data (which is going gangbusters lately). Within the timeline, events having a time stamp or even a time range are positioned within what is essentially a histogram, providing a simple and unified visualization of when stuff happened. Sure, you're still seeing plenty of discrete data points, but their arrangement as a treatment of frequency gives a great indication of patterns and trending.  Additionally, the items in the timeline are tethered to their map counterparts such that when you interact with one, the other lights up –providing a tangible connection of space and time.

The Visual Fusion Heatmap engine consumes very large sets of event data and generates a single overlay of relative global intensity. It provides an intuitive and quickly scanable picture of areas with high data frequency. The individual events that contribute to the overall heatmap can also be weighted such that relatively important events contribute more brightly to the overall picture.
The heatmap engine could, in addition to raw intensity, show relative intensity based on the ratio of two values. For example, confirmed cases of a contagion may provide no additional insight than would the distribution of the population overall. By normalizing outbreak areas by the background population, areas that are truly anomalous will light up.

Meta Icons
Similar to the Extrusion, a Meta Icon is an informative icon capable of communicating many more dimensions of information than a basic point, and also lets you interact within it. In this example, small trend charts are placed at global locations to give an at-a-glance notion of locational trends, without mucking about in a more complicated interface. These Meta Icons can be as spartan or as rich as required, depending on the desired balance of at-a-glance status communication to deeper divability of the dashboard user.

Thematic Mapping
Ah, the golden boy of datamapping.  This is a super broad term, but in this case I mostly consider the dynamic color-coding of areas angle.  Thematic shading of global regions is a straightforward but powerful rollup method. Events within a nation, or several values associated with the nation as a whole can be aggregated and displayed as a global illustration of status. The user experience of Visual Fusion makes it easy to visually scan an area of interest, mouse-around areas to read high-level summary information, or select an area to generate aggregate reports.
The color (or transparency) of the areas can be driven by a simple aggregate number, a relative trend, a time trend, or some formulaic concoction based on business rules.

No comments:

Post a Comment