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Former Member

Is geospatial analysis of data a new paradigm? 

Well No.  It could be said that one of the top five most influential data visualisation's of all time was John Snow’s, Cholera Map from 1854.

Snow was a British physician who is considered one of the founders of epidemiology for his work identifying the source of a cholera outbreak in 1854.

In the late 1850’s it was assumed that cholera was airborne. However, Snow did not accept this 'miasma' (bad air) theory, arguing that in fact entered the body through the mouth. He published his ideas in an essay 'On the Mode of Communication of Cholera' in 1849. A few years later, Snow was able to prove his theory in dramatic circumstances. In August 1854, a cholera outbreak occurred in Soho. After careful investigation, including plotting cases of cholera on a map of the area, Snow was able to identify a water pump in Broad (now Broadwick) Street as the source of the disease. He had the handle of the pump removed, and cases of cholera immediately began to diminish. However, Snow's 'germ' theory of disease was not widely accepted until the 1860s. (Source

If geospatial analysis isn't something new then why haven't I really seen it enter into the mainstream world of Business Intelligence until relatively recently?  I think that historically geospatial analysis has been viewed as something complex to do that needed expensive specialist technologies and was the realm of what we today call “Data Scientists”.  Historically lots of planning would have been undertaken to define the data sets and geospatial analyses only to go through many iterations between the data scientists and information consumer before getting it right.  Then, as is so often the case, the information consumers question has moved on or changed and the iterative process would start again

Is there a better way?

What if you could empower data analysts in your organisation to interact with daily sales information by product group on a map and easily show the geographical clustering of sales? How could positively affect marketing spend? How could easy identifying regional trends and variations optimise your supply chain?

What if data analysts could ask 5, 6, 7, 10, 20 different questions of their data themselves and look at the answers from a geospatial view rather than going through the lengthy define, design, deliver project iterations needing interaction across business departments?

I have seen in organisations that putting the power of geospatial analysis using SAP Lumira into the hands of Business Analysts or this new labelled group, “Data Artisans", really can deliver clear actionable insights.

Is it easier to gain insight around the number of bird strikes to Aeroplanes in the USA from this..

Or this ?

My conclusion:

Geospatial analysis is not something new, but it’s now it available to “Data Artisans” in organisations to do more with their data for less effort and quicker. Or as Steve Lucas described it in a recent press event, welcome to "Agile Visualisations" delivered through SAP Lumira (Source:

SAP Lumira - Information Sources

About the author:

Andrew works within the Solution Visioning business unit of itelligence UK specialising in SAP Analytics technologies.  Andrew has a wealth of experience with SAP BusinessObjects and Data Visualisation from working in the Business Intelligence sector for over 15 years. Andrew also chairs the Visualisation and Dashboard Design special interest group for the UK&Ireland SAP User Group.

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