March 29, 2018 1:18 pm Published by

Data visualization is an approach that allows often complex and interconnected information sets to be shown and understood through a collection of images. A straightforward and effective visualization could be a bar chart, graph or infographic. For many, it is much easier to view data visually, than for example in an excel spreadsheet with hundreds of data sets. The use of charts or graphs to visualize large amounts of complex data tends to be much easier than poring over spreadsheets or reports.

Further advantages in visually representing data are found in the power of the information being imparted. The brain understands this information more easily and quickly making key facts and assessments ‘stickier’ than they would be otherwise. Presenting data visually can also help engage people in deeper thinking, as it allows for people to spend less time processing the information, and more time on making connections.

However effective, there are much more powerful and dynamic ways to impart knowledge and understanding visually than these static tools like charts and graphs. At we frequently make use of interactive data visualization through tools like Tableau and Power BI. A recent example was created by Lauren Bourke, one of our Business Analysts, who built an interactive data presentation on Asset Management in Canada which has been featured in Public Sector Digest Magazine.

Lauren’s project involved looking at the opinion of Canadians on their public infrastructure. The goal of the project was to gather information on government documents relating to public infrastructure as well as analyzing the public opinion on the current state of their infrastructure. She first began by examining government documents, academic journal articles, and infrastructure report cards. Using these documents as a jumping off point she applied text mining software to identify keywords common to asset management. These key-words were then vetted or cleaned by removing frequently-used words like ‘the,’ or ‘and’ and finally grouped into subject areas.

The timing couldn’t have been better for this assessment of Canadian’s opinions of Asset Management as Lauren was able to collect 7 days’ worth of Twitter information in the week that the federal budget was announced. Tweets about Canadian Asset Management that included the keywords identified in the previous text mining exercise were compiled for further analysis.

Faced with a vast amount of raw data, Lauren used the Tableau software to distill and make sense of all the collected public opinions so it could be featured in Public Sector Digest. With Tableau software, she was able to visually display the findings through interactive bar charts, clickable analysis, and word clouds. Data visualization made what would otherwise have been hard to understand list of over 400 Tweets, into a dynamic and easily understood result, displaying key topics of interest for Canadians.

Lauren’s project is just one small sample of the projects we apply data visualization tools to here at specializes in helping people understand complex information and make it actionable. By applying software like Tableau, we help answer questions with data visualization.

Lauren is a employee as well as a Brock University student. She is currently enrolled in the co-op program at Brock University and we at have been lucky enough to have her join our team this term. Below is the Data Visualization chart made in Tableau by Lauren.


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This post was written by George Alimisis

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