# Show me the Way: Putting Directed Arrows on Maps in Tableau

This is the continuation of a blog post I published a few weeks ago on how to draw directed arrows in Tableau. The approach introduced there – I dubbed it the “linear” approach, as instead of drawing one line we created two additional lines for the arrowheads – works fine on scatterplots, but things turn out to be a bit more difficult when working with maps. This article shows how these difficulties can be overcome using some on-the-fly reprojection of our data. While I claim the arrows to be my original idea (at least I didn’t find anything similar on the web – please correct me if I’m wrong!), I can’t and won’t take credit for this one. All original work was done by Alan Eldridge and the @mapsOverlord herself, Tableau’s Sarah Battersby in an article on hexbinning on Alan’s blog back in 2015. Sarah is an absolute expert on all things map projection, as she has shown time and time again in articles on the topic on the official Tableau and Tableau Public blogs and elsewhere (as in: real scientific publications).

# Giving your Flows a Direction in Tableau

In a recent blog post I showed how easy it is to create maps in Tableau showing paths, basically lines connecting two points each: the start and end locations. Those can be departure and arrival airports of certain flight routes, origin and destination of refugee flows, source and sink of money transfers, … the possibilities are endless!

But now imagine a map with a line connecting two locations A and B. Or rather many such lines. What information does this hold for you? What insights can you get out of such a viz? There is one very important element still missing! That is: which direction is this connection? Sure, there are cases where direction doesn’t matter, but thinking of the three aforementioned example use cases, many times it does! So let’s give our connecting paths some directionality. Let’s take simple lines and make them arrows!

# Connecting the Dots – Visualizing Paths in Tableau

I had been planning to write this post for a long time. Not only have I been asked many times how to do this in my daily consulting work, but especially during and after my hands-on training “Stretching the Boundaries with Advanced Mapping” at our Tableau Conference On Tour 2017 in Berlin earlier this year. The question is pretty simple: How can I draw paths in Tableau? Oftentimes these are some kind of movement data, e.g. refugees or flight connections. The way to do this in Tableau is actually very easy – and some of the recently introduced features made it even easier – but it’s imperative to understand how Tableau draws lines and how the data therefore needs to be structured.

The OpenFlights.org route network visualized in Tableau

# Upcoming Event: 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG)

While there’s still some time until the 2015 AAG Annual Meeting kicks off in Chicago next spring the deadline for submitting papers is approaching almost here: November 20th, 2014!

As for me, I will present an algorithm I developed as part of my PhD thesis and in the course of my related research of people’s movements in urban areas:

Konstantin Greger, University of Tsukuba
A Spatio-Temporal Betweenness Centrality Measure for the Micro-Scale Estimation of Pedestrian Traffic

The spatio-temporal mobile population estimation approach I introduce here can be used to calculate an index for the pedestrian traffic volume on street segments divided into deliberately chosen time steps. This is especially useful in the spatial context of highly urbanized areas, as it provides the populations in public space as a complementary element to building populations.

This was achieved by employing a graph theory methodology, namely that of betweenness centrality, and extending it by the temporal dimension. This new model was then applied using a number of datasets that provide information about building populations and train station passenger transfers segregated both spatially and by time.

The introduction of the temporal dimension to the estimation of populations in public space allows for a micro-scale analysis of the actual population figures according to the underlying human activities. I believe that this is the most interesting characteristic of the proposed estimation methodology, since for the first time it allows for a reliable estimation of mobile populations even for large study areas with justifiable requirements in terms of both necessary input data and computational expense.

The output result of the spatio-temporal model can be used to visualize the amount of pedestrians on the streets of a chosen study area. While the data do not represent the absolute numbers of pedestrians, they do reflect the traffic volume and allow for a comparison of crowdedness, which can be used for further quantitative analyses, such as population density calculations for certain points in time.

This year I made an effort to not being placed into some random session as has happened to me both in 2012 and 2014 – in 2013 I went all the way and organized my very own session. Therefore I browsed the (admittedly a wee bit confusing) “abstract and session submission console” on the AAG conference website. There I came across an effort by Prof. Diansheng Guo at the University of South Carolina, who proposed a session (or a series thereof?) labeled “Spatial Data Mining and Big Data Analytics”. I was more than happy to receive an almost instantaneous feedback from Prof. Guo, let alone a positive one!

Obviously I don’t have details about the “where and when”s of said session(s) and my presentation, but I will update this article accordingly once the information has become available. The details are:

Paper Session: Spatial Data Mining and Big Data Analytics (2)
Tuesday, 4/21/2015 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM
304 Classroom, University of Chicago Gleacher Center, 3rd Floor

In the meantime, Here’s the general conference information:

2015 AAG Annual Meeting
April 21 – 25, 2015
Hyatt Regency Chicago
http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting

I’m already looking forward to my fourth AAG, and I would be happy to see you there!

# Creating Multiple Concentric Ring Buffers in PostGIS

Whenever possible I recently try to get all my GIS work done in QGIS. Most of the time this is no problem at all. Sometimes it makes things even easier, such as when you’re trying to work with your geospatial data in a PostgreSQL/PostGIS database (good luck trying that in ArcGIS!). But sometimes you come across a task that is just so exotic that nobody has ever come across it. Or at least nobody wrote about coming across it…