Visualising Data in ArcGIS Maps for PowerBI – Exprodat

Figure 1. PowerBI Visualizations

For those not familiar with Microsoft PowerBI, it is a dashboard application that allows users to create a plethora of views of tabular data. This is done through the use of Visualizations.

Data inputs can range from a simple CSV file to enterprise databases. Many of these Visualizations are in the form of graphs.

The usual suspects (bar, line and pie) are included. Naturally, maps are also an item of interest. Often, dashboard users want to get a sense of location for the data they are visualizing. 

Generally, the preexisting map Visualizations in PowerBI are dependent on data that aligns with certain location criteria. For example, countries or cities. They also tend to be single layers.  


Figure 2: A simple map showing country population (UN 2019) using the Filled Map Visualization.


So, what happens when you want to get a bit more GISsavvy in PowerBI, and maximise the location analytical component of your dataAs Esri is a partner with Microsoft, it is no surprise there’s already a way to do this: the ArcGIS Maps for PowerBI Visualization. This Visualization has been around for some time, and in August 2021, the ArcGIS Maps for PowerBI Visualization underwent a major overhaul. These enhancements enabled the Esri Visualization to leverage the full power of the ArcGIS JavaScript API, giving users access to advanced ArcGIS tools within PowerBI. 


Figure 3: A PowerBI report with an ArcGIS Maps for Power BI map of North Sea Field Production.


Comparing the basic map Visualization (Figure 2) and the Esri map Visualization (Figure 3) there are several points to note. The basic map shows the population data as discrete colours. Changing the symbology requires updating the colour of each value, one-by-one.  While in ArcGIS Maps for PowerBI, the symbology options are more in line with what is seen in ArcGIS Online (see Figure 4). 

Figure 4: ArcGIS Maps for PowerBI symbology (left) vs Filled Map Visualizations symbology.


As well as leveraging the power of ArcGIS JavaScript API to give better symbology control, ArcGIS Maps for PowerBI allows you to: 

  • Add more reference layers to the map (see the light grey licences in Figure 3) 
  • Perform analysis (buffer or drive time selections) 
  • Use point clustering 
  • Add and control labelling 

These capabilities combine to give you a powerful addition to your PowerBI Reports – integrating some of the spatial capabilities of the ArcGIS platform.  

In future blogs, we’ll be looking at how to access and get the most out of ArcGIS Maps for PowerBI, so watch this space. 


Posted by Ben Holmes, GIS Consultant. 


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