Today almost every project I undertake has this same requirement / request from the client…

Can we have a big map? We need a big map, the job isn’t complete until we have a map

They then often proceed to hand you a list of locations that well let’s be honest isn’t ideal for the task. Recently with a request like this just looking at one area I found…

UK, United Kingdom, Great Britain, England, Scotland and Wales.

Now for me diversity is always a good thing and we should celebrate our differences, however data cleansing is not an excercise in tolerance…

The core issue here is that everyone wants to be able to build maps, maps are a really visual way to showcase your data, being able to display a KPI by country is one of the most powerful visualisation you can use. I could go into the context about how familiarity with the map that people have means their inbuilt bias focuses their opinions there is almost an expectation that certain areas should be good or bad and if they’re not then way not. In short the benefit that there really is with using a map comes down to the context the audience brings to the visual beyond the data set, this cannot be replicated in other charts that essentially exist only in the context of the data that is brought into them.

Now we’ve dismissed the crazy idea that people understand a world map and have preconceived ideas about them. NOTE – Remember context! You have to have it to do that there Power BI!

Location, Location, Location I will say is a really hot topic. I had planned to find a distinct Country, State, City table, would you believe I couldn’t, oh there are plenty at a country level but not a global one, my next thouht had been to find the definitive list locations from bing maps. The net opinion was heading towards depression when I suddenly recieved an email letting me know that a new youtube video was available… Someone from Microsoft was having the same issue.

Video link

So the core issue is that there is a hard requirement to build and test a hierarchy for your locations. You start with continent or a region, then work your way down, remembering of course that your first instinct may not be correct.

The lesson I have learnt from locations in all platforms I have used is that so much is about context and use case specific requirements, what is good for you is good, not some mythical one size fits all rule. That said great map visuals do tell compelling stories, so suck with it and don’t get downhearted!