The Central Intelligence Atlas: Use Your Imagination

October 18, 2015

The write up, sourced from ESRI, is interesting because it describes visualizations without displaying any visualizations. Navigate to “The Central Intelligence Atlas: how BI Is Going Visual.” I expected some narrative and then examples of visualizations.

Now the write up references outfits like Google and its Maps. I know what these look like, and I have seen mash ups which display data on Google Maps. But, like the supporters of old fashioned radio say, use your imagination. Okay, I did.

I noticed a couple of statements in the write up which quivered my imaginative Jello.

First, I highlighted in J-E-L-L-O green:

once we are talking about things that exist and happen in the real physical world, there is a significant dimension that a BI system doesn’t typically make use of to find essential correlations between disparate datasets – location. Fortunately, there is a complementary enterprise technology that can fill that gap right now. It’s called Enterprise GIS – Geographical Information Systems – and many businesses are waking up to the fact that visualization using  interactive digital maps and applying ‘spatial analysis’, as it’s called, can produce significant results. Recognizing this, forward-thinking BI vendors including Microstrategy and IBM Cognos are starting to embed limited GIS capabilities into their enterprise platforms.

Yep, putting data on maps. I visualize presentations like those from Geofeedia. Here’s what that outfit’s approach looks like:


Source: Geofeedia, 2015

I find this type of example helpful.

I also noted this passage, which I highlighted in what I call cool blue:

Spatial analysis isn’t only useful to businesses with physical property and assets however. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Underwriting at Lloyd’s Limited (MSIG), for example, has created a dynamic online atlas of hundreds of potential hazards that could impact insured properties and businesses around the world, using GIS. The technology enables it to monitor hazards at specific locations, ranging from tornados and wildfires to terrorist activities.

What I visualized was this overlay of bomber identification on a satellite image:


Source: David Reeths, “IHS Jane’s Satellite Imagery Analysis: Use of Imagery Intelligence within OSINT,” 2014, page 15

I agree that mash ups of maps and data are useful. I would suggest that examples, not just word descriptions based on marketing lingo, help make the ideas more interesting. But content marketing does what it can.

Stephen E Arnold, October 18, 2015


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