Power BI Mapping: Best Guide to Create Powerful Map Visualizations in 2 Easy Steps

on BI Tool, Data Visualization, Guide, Power BI • March 8th, 2022 • Write for Hevo

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Data comes in many different forms and analyzing it provides organizations with important and actionable insights. Geographic and location data are used by some sectors to make informed business decisions. You rely on customized dynamic maps to figure out various patterns such as traffic and weather conditions in the locations where you travel. Interactive map visualizations aid in the visualization of enormous datasets by displaying data as locations on maps, as well as the understanding of complex trends by providing the greatest level of granularity.

Power BI, a powerful Business Intelligence & Analytics platform, offers many interactive map visualizations to help you understand your geographic data. Power BI Mapping visualizations condense the information supplied to the viewer and highlight key points based on the analysis.

This guide will highlight the different Power BI Maps and lists the steps to get started with the Power BI Mapping. You will also discover some best tips to work with Power BI Maps. Before jumping to the Power BI Mapping steps, let’s get familiar with Power BI and its remarkable features.

Table of Contents

What is Power BI?

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Power BI is a set of Business Analytics tools that lets you share data throughout your organization. It is a Business Intelligence product from Microsoft that allows users to look at data from various sources and build reports and dashboards.

Outside of the Microsoft environment, Power BI can connect to the most popular databases and construct simple and interactive dashboards from them. It can be used as a stand-alone desktop application or as a fully managed Cloud-based web service. While the Power BI Desktop is available for free, the Power BI Service is a subscription-based service that costs users based on how much they use it. Microsoft has also released Power BI Mobile for customers who want to keep an eye on their data while on the go.

Key Features of Power BI

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Among many other BI tools, Power BI is a leader. It has proven to be a trustworthy and easy-to-use Data Analysis and Visualization tool. Let’s have a look at some of the unique features it offers:

  • Real-Time Dashboards: Power BI Dashboards update in real-time, allowing viewers to instantly solve issues and uncover great opportunities.
  • Customized Visualization: Companies can quickly develop a visualization that matches their needs using the custom visualization library. Using open-source data-viz modules from R and Python, analysts can create highly configurable visualizations for their next Power BI report. In this guide, you will learn more about Power BI Mapping visualizations.
  • Get Data Feature: The “Get Data” option in Power BI allows you to select from a range of data sources, including On-Premise or Cloud-Based, Unstructured or Structured data, and so on.
  • DAX Functions: Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) in Power BI are predefined codes for conducting analytics-specific data activities. Over 200 functions are currently available in the Power BI function library. Refer to Create a Power BI Calendar Table using DAX functions article, to explore more.
  • Leverages AI: Power BI users can use image recognition & text analytics, as well as create Machine Learning models and connect them to Azure Machine Learning.
  • Robust Security: Power BI uses Active Directory to grant access to the control panel, and the company can only use Microsoft products through it. In addition to providing a standard security layer, Power BI is developed for establishing security that allows the team to provide access in a more controlled manner.

Want to explore more about Power BI? Visit the official website to know more.

What are Power BI Maps?

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A ‘map’ is a symbolic depiction of a location’s specific characteristics, usually drawn on a flat surface. Maps are a visual representation of information about the world. They demonstrate the size and shape of countries, the locations of landmarks, and the distances between them to visualize the world.

Bing Maps and Power BI work together to offer default map coordinates. It makes use of the Bing Maps Geocoding Engine, which sends geographical variables such as location, latitude, and longitude to Bing for geocoding processing and plotting on the map. In short, the Bing Engine converts the given information into geographic coordinates to do geospatial analysis. Visualizations based on maps are simple to make and provide a comprehensive perspective of spatial and category data.

Read along the next sections, to know the different types of Power BI Maps and how you can get started with Power BI Mapping.

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Types of Power BI Maps

You can now access 4 native maps directly in Power BI Desktop without needing to import them. Let’s take a look at the different Power BI Maps below:

1) Power BI Mapping Types: Map (Basic)

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This type of Map visual displays points that can be scaled as area bubbles if desired. This map has been merged by Power BI with Bing Maps to offer default map coordinates (also known as geo-coding) so that Power BI Maps can be created easily and accurately. This map is adequate for basic presentation, however, it falls short when it comes to advanced customization.

2) Power BI Mapping Types: Filled Map

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A Filled Map or Choropleth Map shows how a value varies in proportion over geography or region by using shading, coloring, or patterns. Using shading that spans from bright (less frequent/lower) to dark (more frequent/higher), quickly depict these relative differences. This map also leverages Bing Maps.

3) Power BI Mapping Types: Shape Map

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Shape Map, unlike the basic Map visual, does not display the specific geographical locations of data points on a map. Instead, it serves as a visual for comparing regions on a map by using different colors to differentiate them. With a blank background, the Power BI Shape Map displays polygon patterns on the canvas.

The Shape Map visual is only available in Power BI Desktop.  Since it’s in preview mode, you’ll need to enable it before you can use it. Refer to Use Shape Shape Maps in Power BI Desktop to learn more.

4) Power BI Mapping Types: ArcGIS Maps

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ArcGIS (Aeronautical Reconnaissance Coverage Geographic Information System) maps are more sophisticated Power BI Maps than the basic maps. It was developed by ESRI, a leader in geospatial software and spatial data, and launched in Preview in September 2016. Based on the kind of data, ArcGIS for Power BI uses its strong geo enabling technology to precisely put location data on the map and displays items as points or boundaries by default.

Steps to Create Power BI Mapping Visualizations

By reading the above sections, you might have got a basic understanding of the Power BI Mapping working and the different maps offered by Power BI. In this section, you will learn the steps to create a basic Bubble Map in Power BI. So, follow the steps below to get started.

Step 1: Load your Data

You need to choose your required data source or your required data file to work on with Power BI Mapping. Follow the below steps to load an Excel file:

  • Open your Power BI platform and navigate to Home → Get Data → Excel as shown below.
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  • From the pop-up window, choose your desired file source and click on Open. You can download the sample Excel file here.
  • Now, before uploading the data, select the City_Sales checkbox as shown below and click on the Load option to upload your data.
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Step 2: Create & Customize your Power BI Map

After loading your data, let’s create a Map using the Power BI Map option below:

  • Select the Report layout and click on the Map visualizations as shown below:
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  • Next, you need to enter some fields such as Location, Latitude, Longitude, and Size. You can enter the City in the Location field by dragging and dropping the column to the Location field as shown below.
Power BI Mapping - Select Location
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You will observe that the Power BI automatically finds the cities present in your data on the Map as shown below:

Power BI Mapping - Result
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  • Next, you can use other column fields to filter your data and then visualize it on the map. In addition, you can format your Power BI Map using the Format option as shown below.
Power BI Mapping - Format Map
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After changing your bubble sizes, bubble colors, and labeling the categories from the Format window, your map will somewhat look like this:

Power BI Mapping - Formatted Map Result
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Great Work! You have learned the basic steps to set up a Map in Power BI. You can further try on other Power BI Mapping methods here.

Best Tips for Power BI Mapping Visualizations

Power BI leverages Bing Maps to offer default map coordinates, also known as geo-coding, so you can generate maps, as mentioned in the previous sections. There are a few actions you can do to improve the chances of accurate geo-coding. Follow the tips below to do so:

  • To ensure Bing correctly encodes your data, try categorizing your geographic fields using the Data Category option.
  • Since locations can be ambiguous at times, it’s a good idea to include more than one location column to accurately identify your intended location.
  • Power BI gets the latitude and longitude coordinates based on a set of address values for any country using Bing’s unstructured URL template service. Add latitude & longitude columns and label them correctly if your data lacks enough location data.
  • Make sure each field only has one category for location. Your location field, for example, should be New York, not New York, US.

Read more Tips and tricks for Power BI map visualizations, to improve your Power BI Mapping visualizations.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, this guide helped you understand what is Power BI Mapping and why Power BI Maps are useful. You explored the different types of Power BI Maps – Basic, Shape, Filled, and ArcGis Maps. You also discovered the various tips to work efficiently with the Power BI Maps.

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Do you have any doubts? Feel free to ask or share your experience with Power BI Mapping in the comments section below!

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