May 22, 2023
5 min read

The Importance of Maps in Exploring Geographic Data

PlotSet teamwriter

Why maps are important

Maps are essential allies to data visualization as they tend to simplify geographic data and make it more tangible to the audience. These maps can be used in different fields, and whether it's for an academic study or promoting a product by marketers, they are fun to work with and easy to comprehend. 

This blog will explore the power of data visualization and maps in comprehending geographic data. So, read on to know more!

What are maps

Maps are web-based, flexible data visualization tools that simplify complex dataset presentations. Some of them are interactive, which means they have clickable points for displaying detailed information about specific places designated previously on the map. These details, depending on the data visualization tool that you are using, may include numbers, pictures, links, etc. 

Maps have the ability to provide the audience with contextual and situational data visualization. You might wonders what are those. Let's find out.

Contextual data visualization

It aims to present data by highlighting the relationships, dependencies, or patterns within a specific context or environment. In other words, it targets the broader context in which the data exists. That way, the audience gains insights into how the data fits into a larger picture. Contextual data visualization can be used for analyzing complex systems or phenomena influenced by several contextual factors.

Situational data visualization

It presents data within specific situations or scenarios. It aims to provide insights and support decision-making in real-time or near-real-time situations. For instance, suppose there was an accident. In an emergency response situation, situational data visualization can help visualize and analyze data related to the incident, such as location-based data, resource allocation, or real-time updates, to facilitate timely decision-making.

Not only can maps provide both of these contexts, but also they can present data in a form that makes it easy to identify, locate, manipulate, format and effectively communicate information. 

Visual navigation allows your audience to find correlations and patterns faster and straightly get to the interpretation. Take the map below as an example. Because of the contrast between the colors and the numbers displaying the unemployment rates in Asia, a researcher, a politician, or a student quickly grasps the economic indicator that reflects the proportion of people actively seeking employment but currently without work.

The power of visualizing geographic data

By incorporating maps, geographic data visualization allows us to comprehend spatial patterns, relationships and trends that might otherwise be difficult to understand from raw data alone.

Geographic data visualization has several advantages, such as:

  • Enhancing our ability to detect patterns and trends across several different regions,
  • Identifying clusters, hotspots, or disparities in various phenomena, such as population distribution, economic activity, or environmental factors,
  • Allowing us to make informed decisions,
  • Allocating resources effectively,
  • And design targeted interventions.

In the case of the map below, you can witness the affordability and accessibility of mobile data across different countries and regions.

This map can be used for understanding the global landscape of mobile data pricing and identifying regions where mobile data may be more or less accessible due to affordability. It can be used to compare pricing trends across countries, analyze disparities in data costs, and assess the potential impact of pricing on digital inclusion, economic development, and communication accessibility worldwide.

In addition to the points above, visualizing geographic data enables us to communicate insights more effectively. That is because visual representations are often more engaging and accessible than other formats. Visuals connect to a wider audience and contribute to a more profound level of understanding and engagement. 

Using compelling maps and interactive tools, you can tell stories, highlight key findings, and engage your audience in discussions around topics like urban planning, public health, or natural resource management.

Of course, it doesn't mean that every map must be about a serious topic. People who work as data journalists have learned to tell interesting stories about any type of data. Take the following map, for example.

We all love the entertainment world. A map like this could be fun to look at in our leisure time and also very important to Eurovision fans!

PlotSet offers an extensive collection of maps to visualize your geographic and geospatial data. From the map of the world and different countries to symbol and heat maps, we have them all. It's really straightforward and fast. 

You can check out the following blog post to learn more about our maps: Create Your Own Custom Map with PlotSet

Visualize your data with PlotSet!

We, the PlotSet team, are enthusiastic to spice up your storytelling world using data visualization, and we will show you how to do so through various blogs. If you’re into data journalism or you just want to present your data to an audience, we strongly suggest taking a look at what we have prepared for you here. Enjoy reading!

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