On Friday, in class, we worked in pairs through various Tableau tutorial tasks using bike rack data from the city of seattle. It was a great setup for the deliverable and it was a good look into working with Tableau. My partner, David, and I each did our own work on our own computers so that we could both help each other but do the work and understand the system ourselves. It also was nice to do our own work because he was using a mac and I was using a PC so we faced some differences in the software that could have been confusing when doing the deliverable by ourselves.
For the assignment this week, we were tasked with using Seattle 911 records from 2014 and 2015 to answer a research question for a user group of our choosing by creating a Tableau dashboard. I was inspired by one of the suggested user groups to think of prospective homeowners and where they should be looking to buy a house. Those people might like to know if the place they are looking at has a history of noise disturbances from neighbors. I thought they would want to know when and where these noise disturbances occurred.
Using the software I plotted on a map all of the noise complaints recorded by the Seattle Police Department in 2015 which shows where they occur. I also plotted both time of day and day of week that these noise complaints occurred.
This task allowed me to get hands on experience with using data visualization software like Tableau and work with the principles of good data visualization.
This process taught me all about data visualization. From where to find data sets, to utilizing software to understand the data, and then creating easy and clear graphical representations of that data. We worked with Tufte’s visualization principles and it was really interesting and informative to be able to apply those into something I created. There were so many things I wanted to investigate but the noise idea seemed really interesting and had some fascinating results when you plotted them onto the map.
I found that the most difficult part was actually explaining what each graphic represented and how it all tied together for the user group. I didn’t start with specific enough of a user and I instead found an interesting pattern in the data and then thought of users who might like that.
Data visualization is hugely important especially considering how much data there is in the world and how difficult it is to understand. We can’t keep up with how much data we are creating but through visualization we can try to understand it. As someone going into Information Systems, data systems and communicating the function of data is at the core of what I’ll be doing. Understanding Tableau and knowing the principles of good data visualizations will be instrumental for me in my classes and career.
Additionally, the principles of data visualization we learned that Tufte outlined is applicable to many things outside of data visualization. His ideas can be used to create more meaningful and effective presentations, memos, reports, and interactive dashboards like in tableau for everything involving data and numbers.