Google Fusion Tables

First of all, Welcome to my very first blog! I have always sworn that I would never write a blog, but I guess the saying “never say never” is true after all. And yes you guessed right, it’s all about Fusion tables. So what are fusion tables?

Google’s Fusion Tables allow us to filter, combine, summarize and visualize large table data sets easier online. Using Google tables allows us to search and find thousands of public data online, import and combine it with our own data and create exciting fusion tables of our own for a better visualization of data. As the data is automatically saved and stored in google drive, this allows teams to collaborate easier when working on projects instead of the old email, edit and email back method. So let’s get straight to an example of Fusion Tables.  For this example, I’m going to walk you step by step through what can be done with fusion tables to create a heat-map of the Irish Population Data merged with the county boundaries.

Thankfully I was given a sample data of the Irish population 2011 Census figures covering the 26 counties of the republic of Ireland and a kml file matching same geographic area in a comma separate value format (.csv) by the lecturer . After plotting this, I didn’t like the fact that it left a blank space in the remaining 6 counties so I went digging for a .kml file that included all 32 county borders. I found one and plotted it on the map, and the resulting table created the image below.


Heat-map of Ireland County Borders

Aren’t Fusion tables just amazing!!! While I was now able to see all my county borders, I needed to know more about the Irish counties, like how many people lived in each county.  Finding a .csv file with the population of the 32 counties was proving a challenge so I searched each of the six counties data individually and edited my spreadsheet to create a .csv file that included all the county figures. Before uploading I had to clean the data and make sure that the column names matched and had the correct spelling in order to be able to merge them afterwards with my KML file.  After uploading both the files, I merged them and for better visualization of the data I had to customize the map, using the “change feature styles.” This allowed me to chose “Fill colour” and create several buckets that would highlight the more densely populated areas of Ireland by marking them darker shades on the map and adding a legend to easily see the breakdown of buckets in numerical terms. The result of what came out is seen in the image below.

Heat-map of Ireland County Borders kml merged with Population 2011 table

Clearly from the above heat-map we can see that places like Cork and Antrim (500 000 – 1 Million ) and Dublin (Over a million) are the counties with the most people in the Island.  By now I was having so much fun with fusion tables that I went searching for another set of data. I found data on the road safety authority website relating to the number of fatalities on Irish roads. This was just the data I was looking for but as usual, I had to go searching everywhere and elsewhere for the northern Ireland data, found it, cleaned it and uploaded my new table with the counties, 2005 totals of fatalities and 2012 fatalities. After merging previous table with the fatalities table, styling it and adding a legend. I was ready to share it.


Heat-map of Merged Ireland County Borders kml merged with Population 2011 table and Road Fatalities

The practicality of the above table can be used by the road safety authority of Ireland and the law enforcement in Northern Ireland to visualize areas of concern that have failed to reduce fatalities on their roads. As depicted by the legend, one can also easily see areas of serious concern in red, where the number of fatalities has actually increased in 2012 compared to the 2005 figures. In bright green we can also see the counties with the greatest improvement in reducing fatal accidents on their roads. With this easily presented information at their hands, the officials can increased funding for improving roads and increased availability of traffic officers to reduce reckless driving and other contributing factors to the carnage. Also to get an even deeper insight to the causes or relationship between road types and accidents we could apply another .kml file with the roads network on top of this map and this can help us to see whether there is an urgent need to improve certain roads to increase safety for Irish motorists. The possibilities are endless.

Fusion tables are an excellent tool to filter, alter, combine and visualize data in a manner that is easier to ingest to the receiver. While this has been my first experience with Google Fusion Tables, it definitely will not be the last as I am already looking for other projects to have fun plotting.

For more detailed instructions on Fusion tables, please visit- www.mulinblog.com

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