Geographical Heat Maps and How to Use Them with ReportPlus

Mobile Man / Monday, December 12, 2016

Our recent ReportPlus release welcomed a new interactive real-time data visualization to our family — the Heat Map — available for you in ReportPlus Desktop for Windows & ReportPlus Mobile for iOS and Android. Let’s see what a heat map is and how you can use this view to improve your data-driven decision making.

What is a Heat Map?

Heat maps display the density of data points on a geographical map and help you see the intensity of phenomena visualized through a color scale. Normally, red is used to show the highest data density in an area, while blue is used to point to the ‘coldest’ areas, i.e. the areas with the fewest data points. Heat maps are especially handy if you need to analyze bigger geographical datasets.

Creating these maps is easy; you will be able to identify areas of interest on the map with just a few clicks.

What Type of Data do You Need to Create Heat Maps With ReportPlus?

As with the ReportPlus Map View, each row in your data set will need to be bound to a location in the world map. Geocoding is not yet supported in the Heat Map visualization, so be sure to include the geo coordinates (latitude and longitude) in each of your data points. Regardless of whether you have latitude and longitude information in one or in separate columns, ReportPlus will automatically try to recognize your data and visualize it.

Figure 1. Creating a Heat Map from Airport Location Data with ReportPlus Desktop. All Data Visualizations Can Also be Created with ReportPlus Mobile for iOS.

When it comes to map design, you can choose between a political map, a satellite picture or a hybrid between the two.

If you still need to see the exact location of your data, you can add an additional layer to your Heat Map visualization by tapping the Pins and HeatMap option under Layers in ReportPlus. The pins will show the location while retaining the color gradients of the Heat Map.

Assigning Weight to Your Heat Map

Sometimes, there are points in your data which have higher weight than others. For example, displaying earthquake locations on a map would tell us a better story if we include their magnitude on the Richter scale. To achieve this with ReportPlus, simply use the Heat Map’s Weight feature to get a better global understanding of your data.

Looking at Your Geo Data From a New Perspective: Examples

Still wondering how to take advantage of this new data visualization in ReportPlus? To give you a head start, see the below examples:

1. Real Estate

If you are in the real estate industry, mapping out all your current properties for sale/rent in real time can give you a global idea of your portfolio. You might notice, for example, that you offer very few estates in one of the highest-profile neighborhoods. As a result, you might decide to channel more of your sales efforts in this direction. Or, why not add Weight to your data points to display the dollar value of your portfolio across the ReportPlus Heat Map?

Figure 2. Real Estate Heat Map built with ReportPlus Desktop

2. Competitor Analysis

You can use heat maps when collecting market intelligence. Suppose you are founding a fast food chain in the USA. In which states would you establish your first restaurants? Judging from the market penetration of one of your competitors below, why not start with some of the states with lower competitor restaurant density?

Figure 3. Fast Food Chain Locations Heat Map built with ReportPlus Desktop

3. Airline Industry

Need to analyze the economic performance of the airline industry for your academic thesis? It might be useful to map the airport distribution and current population potential of airports in the country:

Figure 4. Airport Locations Heat Map built with ReportPlus Desktop

The above use cases are just the start. You could visualize population data, or metrics such as unemployment rate or crime rate. You could even track your GPS-based personal sports activities geographically by simply connecting to your smartwatch data with ReportPlus.

Having a bird’s-eye view over your geographic data will help you gain new insights and make smarter decisions faster. And with ReportPlus Desktop & Mobile you can take your data visualizations and dashboards with you anywhere, including mobile devices.

Try this geographical data visualization type, and share you findings with your team.