In a previous post I talk about one difference in approach to visualizing data: viewing the report and drilling down to the map, or viewing the map and popping up the report.  Mapping software has utilized the pop-up bubbles for a while now to display data associated with features on the map, and here is one that caught my attention.

This one came to me via an email newsletter from Safe Software, the makers of FME (Feature Manipulation Engine) software, wherein they highlight a project by the City of Hamilton’s Public Health Unit in Ontario, Canada.  They use FME to automate data visualization through KML (Google Earth), as well as statistical analysis results.  The format speaks for itself.

BI data in the bubble

What I love about this approach is that, in addition to the appealing and informative data inside the bubble, the points on the map are also color-coded, contain a symbol, and display a label, all of which provides insight and meaning at-a-glance before ever needing to pop up the detailed data.  For comparison, this is kind of like using conditional formatting in Excel to color-code records based upon a key attribute, except that here we can use color, symbol, size, and label all at once.  Here key data attributes are displayed on the map to reveal the pattern in the data and provide a platform for easy interpretation by all.