Visualizing large geographic datasets can be tricky. Many map tools can’t plot more than a few thousand points. Things are even more complex when there’s a time dimension to the data. Should you show all the data at once? Or make a series of maps for different time periods? If so how many should you make? And which periods of time should you show?
Flourish has long provided you with an easy way to solve these problems – to an extent. Our “Time map” templates took a dataset with latitudes and longitudes and rendered beautiful maps with large numbers of points using efficient WebGL technology. Add a timestamp column and you could create a beautiful map that played the points through time.
The problem was that each template was limited geographically. If we didn’t already have a template for the city, country or region you needed, you were out of luck. That’s why we’re excited to announce the “3D map” template which, in addition to being faster and sleeker than its predecessor, also allows you to plot points anywhere in the world, right down to building level.
So while the example at the top of the page shows AirBnB bookings made in London during summer 2018, you could do the same with any kind of data for any city – or state, region, country, continent – in the world. Here’s another example showing bookings in Istanbul.
In addition to just plotting the data points as circles or “pulses”, the template allows you to:
- Size the points by a numerical column
- Show the points over time either by rate or cumulatively
- Aggregate the points by count or scale
- Toggle the chart and timeline features on and off
- Inside of a story, zoom and pan around the map
- Use advanced custom color palettes and blending modes
- Add an inset locator map with optional custom GeoJSON
- [Add GeoJSON regions](https://flourish.studio/2020/09/10/3d-pointmap-regions/)
The new template has some things in common with other templates, most notably the “Marker map”, which also plots coordinates over a zoomable base map. The difference is that the “3D map” is optimized for large dataset performance and playing through time, while the ”Marker map” is optimized for customizable map markers such as images, icons and emoji. So be sure to choose the right template for each specific project.
As with all Flourish templates, creating a map in this style involves just uploading a spreadsheet in the right format. Check out the data requirements and get started.