Options for geographical analysis in QlikView

By Barry Harmsen

With over 80% of data* having a spatial component,Geographical analysis in QlikView geographical analysis can add a powerful new dimension to almost any reporting environment. In the coming time I intend to review the various methods of extending QlikView with geographical analysis capabilities, describing how to apply these methods and what their pro’s and cons are.

Read on to see the options I have identified so far.

  • Using a Scatterplot:
    • Static map background image;
    • Google Maps/OpenStreetmap with a dynamic background image;

Besides these possibilities, which should all work with QlikView 9, I can imagine that the new extension capabilities of QlikView 10 could create a whole new range of options. For example, I would like to see an extension that wraps the Geomap option of Google’s Visualization API.

Do you know of any other options for geographical analysis in QlikView? If so, then please feel free to drop me a note in the comments and I will add them to the list.

* A completely unsubstantiated figure that I have heard mentioned at conferences a few times, mostly by GIS vendors ๐Ÿ˜‰

About The Author

Barry Harmsen

Hi there, I'm Barry and I'm a Business Intelligence Consultant at Bitmetric and based in the Netherlands. Originally from a background of 'traditional' Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence and Performance Management, for the past 10 years I have been specializing in Qlik and a more user-centric form of BI. I have done numerous QlikView and Qlik Sense implementations in many different roles and industries. In 2012 I co-authored the book QlikView 11 for Developers. You can follow me on Twitter at @meneerharmsen.

21 Comments

  • 1
    November 18, 2010 - 13:26 | Permalink

    Real life application: contextual geo-data for Real-Estate information.

    When you look for a house or apartment, you are not in fact interested in it’s location, but in its position relative to other points of interest. Is it near a school? Is a kindergarten near by? What distance is to nearest metro exit?

    All this info can be instantly calculated using QlikView. Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xizWsheDG0c

    Lucian

  • 2
    November 18, 2010 - 14:12 | Permalink

    … the Google Geomap extension already exists …

    • 3
      November 18, 2010 - 15:01 | Permalink

      Link or it didn’t happen ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • 4
        November 30, 2010 - 16:47 | Permalink

        Hi Barry, the GoogleMaps WorldMap Extension example comes with the QlikWeb Workbench Component which needs to be purchased separately.

  • 5
    November 19, 2010 - 01:25 | Permalink

    While interesting that 80% of data may have a spatial component (depending on how you define it), the reality is that the majority of that data does not have a special dependency – it is not really that suitable for display on a map.

    A common example for such displays might be something like sales by state. These are often displayed as bubbles geographically positioned over the state in question but do they really help with the analysis? Sure, you may be able to easily see that sales in California are larger than in Oregan, but how do they compare against sales in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island that may be smudged together on the far side of the map. What might look “cool” on a demo may turn out to be something that is easier to analyse in a bar chart.

    One other unfortunate flaw is the level of education that might be encountered. Studies have shown that percentages of schoolchildren in the UK have difficulty picking out their own country versus France or Germany? Can we expect that everyone who needs to analyse European data is actually aware that the boot shaped country is Italy?

    Maps can be cool and have some great applications (many of which can be easily done in just Google maps without QlikView). Real world analysis can mostly do without them.

    • 6
      November 21, 2010 - 23:40 | Permalink

      Stephen,

      While I agree that not all data is suitable for display on a map, I do not agree that analysis can mostly do without maps.

      The sales by state example that you mention might be better visualized in a bar chart, though I can imagine that a bar chart with 50 bars might not exactly be easy to interpret either.

      That being said, there are many examples where displaying the data geographically does add new insights. Take for example this map depicting unemployment rates in Belgium:

      http://www.european-democracy.org/archives/2007/10/18/belgium-proof-that-the-eu-will-never-work/

      Looking at this map immediately shows you that the unemployment figures are very different on the Flemish and French speaking sides of the language divide. This sort of insight cannot be easily gleaned by looking at a bar chart or static table.

      Regarding your point about education, of course when designing a dashboard/report it is very important to keep your end-users and their level of knowledge in mind. The Belgian unemployment map only works if the end-users know where the divide is.

      When I design a solution, I always work very closely with the end-users to make sure the information is displayed in a manner that they understand and are comfortable with. In the end it is not about showing off your cool visualization skills, it is about delivering a solution that the end user can comfortably work with and derive value and insights from.

      I do not agree that maps should be kept outside of QlikView. The power of QlikView (and similar tools) is that it can display the same data from many different angles at the same time, letting you interact with the data and discover new relationships between the various dimensions. In trying to figure out the “why” and “how” of our data in QlikView, we are already visualizing the “what” (facts) and the “when” (time), so why not the “where”?

      Kind regards,

      Barry

      • 7
        November 22, 2010 - 00:04 | Permalink

        Barry,

        Does that map of Belgium really give more insight? I could as easily make the same point with a 2 bar chart! Also, as a non-Belgian, I need to know Belgian geography and demographics to interpret it. You could show the 2 bar chart to anyone in the world and they could see that unemployment is greater in the Waloon areas versus the Flemish areas. Of course, what it (or my bar chart) doesn’t show is the fact that the higher population is in the larger cities in the north (population is 2:1 between the 2 areas). Does it show me that the south is more agrarian and that young people migrate to the French speaking cities of Bruxelles, Charleroi or Liege (or even to French cities) where, being unskilled, they swell the unemployment figures there; whereas the more industrial north has more jobs for their Flemish speakers (all of which is pure speculation on my behalf because I don’t have the data – and the map doesn’t tell me this at all).

        I am fully supportive of giving people as much information as possible from different locations. But give it to them simply where it can be easy to interrogate and drill around. A map is just one view of things. There are much better, and simpler, ways of doing it.

        Stephen

        • 8
          November 22, 2010 - 12:54 | Permalink

          Stephen,

          Yes, once you have established that there is a significant difference between unemployment in Flanders and Wallonia you can use a bar chart to visualize it. In hindsight most discoveries seem obvious.

          What I am talking about is using a map in the analysis and exploration phase, to discover spatial patterns that do not follow existing dimensions.

          Granted, in the Belgian unemployment map example you probably would have Flanders/Wallonia available as a dimension and could have figured it out without using a map. However, what if the unemployment divide was between west and east instead of north and south? What if unemployment was only high near the borders or near the Ardennes? How would you easily find out about these things without using a map? Maybe you could use a bar chart or a straight table and use clever reasoning to figure it out, however, if you just plot the data on a map these relationships immediately become obvious.

          Of course, once you have made a discovery and have figured out why and how it happened, you can use another type of visualization that is more suited to your audience to present your findings.

          For your point regarding not understanding Belgian geography and demographics I refer back to my previous comment about knowing your end-user and their level of knowledge. Of course, you should not be offering maps to users that do not understand geography. Use the bar chart for the UK schoolchildren, and use a map for the skilled academic researcher who wants to see and analyze how unemployment is distributed geographically, and how different dimensions influence it.

          I agree with your point that a map does not tell the whole story and that it is only one way to view things, but to me that is no reason to not use them. A map (or bar chart) can be a perfect starting point for further analysis. Once you (believe to) have spotted a trend or relationship you need to further analyze the data to figure out the “how” and “why”. This is also why I believe that a map should not be viewed in isolation but should be combined with other quantitative measures. A map is indeed only another way to look at the data, but combine it with other aspects into a single view and suddenly the whole might be greater than the sum of its parts.

          To avoid having a further long discussion about this topic I want to point out that the original intention of my post was purely to list the different options that are available for geographical analysis in QlikView once you have established that you have a need to do spatial analysis in QlikView. I am in no way saying that you should always be using maps or that spatial relationships should always be visualized using a map. I think that by now, most people who professionally design dashboards and reports are familiar with Edward Tufte’s and Stephen Few’s design principles and can decide for themselves which manner of visualization best suits the information and message they are trying to convey.

          Kind regards,

          Barry

  • 9
    November 19, 2010 - 14:39 | Permalink

    Don’t forget our integration of MS Mappoint into QlikView. It’s called QlikMap. Infos about this tool can be found here: http://transact.de/produkte/qlikmap.php.

    Sorry, infos are only in German.

    • 10
      November 21, 2010 - 23:53 | Permalink

      Guido,

      Thanks for the suggestion! I have added it to the list. Is it ok if I contact you for some more information later?

      Kind regards,
      Barry

  • 11
    November 19, 2010 - 20:58 | Permalink

    Hi Barry,
    interesting post. I do agree with Stephen on his point about spatial dependency but I think a GIS application which can be integrated with other corporate data can be done nicely using Qlikview Mapping options.

    I demoed Qlikview to an Oil exploration field where the analysts HAD to look at various layers of spatial data and Qlikview had a much better experience for them than their GIS itself.

  • 12
    Amit
    February 14, 2011 - 13:18 | Permalink

    There are several map libraries available. I have FusionMaps in the past, which works on Flash.
    Going by the definition of an extension, it should be possible to embed FusionMaps in an extension and use it in QV. Never tried it though.

  • 13
    Adam
    August 25, 2011 - 15:33 | Permalink

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to visual represent a realtionship between two cities? This would be similar to showing a flight map where New York and London are connected. Would like to make the thickness of the line a value (e.g. number of flights).

    Thanks for any help on this.

    Regards,

    Adam

  • 14
    Sbajaj
    October 11, 2011 - 03:09 | Permalink

    I need help to integrate QlikView with MapPoint. Can anyone guide me through with an example or steps on how to do so.

    Thanks

  • 15
    Andrea
    July 29, 2013 - 09:17 | Permalink

    I read with interest this post and was wondering whether the solutions listed are still the main option available or the situation has changed since the last update.
    Based on your experience I would also like to know which is the most adopted solution in all those cases where data has to be displayed in a geomap (e.g. country, region, postcode area) and the user is allowed to select (e.g. a region in a country), zoom and drill-down (e.g. from region to postcodes in that region).
    Thank you

    • 16
      July 29, 2013 - 19:34 | Permalink

      Hi Andrea,

      The landscape has changed quite a bit since I wrote this post, an update is definitely required and will be posted once I find the time.

      Regarding your question, I would say that GeoQlik is still the best fit.

      Kind regards,
      Barry

  • 17
    July 29, 2013 - 22:41 | Permalink

    Hi Andrea, Barry,

    maybe will “QlikMap” the right solution. It comes with own Geo-Server based on OSM and allow QlikView-Maps to be included in QlikView-Reports.
    Our website http://www.transact.de will update in a few days with all the facts of our new version.

    Regards
    Guido

  • 18
    Borys Tyukin
    April 22, 2014 - 20:55 | Permalink

    Hi Barry,

    thanks for putting this together! do you happen to have any examples of
    Using a Scatterplot with Static map background image with OpenStreetmap?

    The problem with google maps that it is not free unless it is publicly available web application.

  • 19
    sujeet
    September 16, 2014 - 12:36 | Permalink

    Barry,

    i use Geo-Qlik extension for geo-maps. I noticed that the map charts take several minutes to populate and are too slow when i have 50 thousands of records.
    Any idea?

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