When your data includes geographic information, adding a visual map will enhance your reporting capabilities. There are several ways to incorporate maps into your Power BI reports.
Configure Your Data
For the best mapping abilities, you first want to be sure that your data is categorized correctly as geographic information. This will allow you to filter by geography and create maps to better display your data.
It’s also most productive if you use multiple columns for your data. So don’t put an entire address into a column; separate the street address, city, state, and zip code into independent columns. This helps ensure accuracy, particularly with Bing integration.
From Data View, select a column with geographic information. Then click the Modeling tab and go to Data Category. From there, choose the category for your column. Repeat for all columns with geographic data. Now you are prepared to create maps.
Basic Maps for Power BI Reports
There are a couple types of maps that are built into Power BI and therefore work pretty seamlessly. One is simply called Map, and the other is the Filled Map. They both work with global and regional geographic data, and both are integrated with Bing. This means you don’t need to enter longitude and latitude in order to get accurate reporting.
Some users do notice the occasional error in the Bing mapping, so always double check your reports. For Bing integration, you should make sure your firewall allows these URLs, because Bing uses them for location accuracy.
This is the basic native mapping tool available for your Power BI Reports. It’s great for straightforward data representations. For example, you may want to show sales by zip code. You can create a map with dots whose size corresponds to the number of sales in the given zip code and time frame.
Filled maps use colors and shading to define sections. They are useful when you need to show spatial boundaries or easily compare one region to another. You can adjust the colors and saturation to display your data. This is often used when comparing something like states, for example.
Other Mapping Options
If you need more personalization and are tech-savvy, there are other options for mapping in Power BI.
ArcGIS is another map that is native to Power BI, and it provides some features that cannot be found in other mapping options. One key component is the ability to add clustering when you zoom.
Shape mapping is another native feature in Power BI. With it, you can create your own polygons to apply to your geographic data. This type of map actually works for non-geographic information as well.
This map is an add-on created by a Power BI user. It gives you the ability to display a route as a line on a map. You do have to use Bing as the basemap though as there are no other options available.
Offered as another custom map, the flow map allows you to show movement on your map, such as lines that converge or diverge from a single point. Again, Bing is your only basemap choice here.
This is a less commonly used option because it does not support standards forms of geographic information. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can create some amazing visuals. It’s available in the Office store and is not just for maps!
The Globe map is also available in the Office store, and displays your data in a 3D model. While this certainly has its perks, many users find it more difficult to view data in the 3D format, and its customization options are limited.
Create Your Own
If you have the time and know-how, you can create your own style of map in Power BI. This gives you total control over your display and can help if you have a unique data set.
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