Quick Tips – Mapping Geography Data in Power BI

One challenge of working with data of a geographical nature is that sometimes, it can be mapped incorrectly. In this quick post I want to give you a couple of tips that will help you to reduce, if not eliminate, incorrect mappings of your data!

There are a few different methods you can use to try to solve the issue of incorrect mapping of geographical data.

  1. Use hierarchies in your map visuals, hierarchies store relationships between attributes and can help with mapping a lot. A geography hierarchy might look something like the following: Country –> State –> City – > Zip
  2. Use data categorization. Sometimes a state can share the name with a city or a country. I remember years ago when I heard on the news that Georgia was under attack, that was pretty concerning for me since Florida is very close to Georgia ha ha. Of course, the state of Georgia was not under attack, it was the country! We can use data categorization in Power BI to specify that a column is a city, state, zip, or country.
  3. Remove ambiguity, for example, instead of having a city column, create a new column with the city and state. Then you can assign that new column a data categorization of Place. If you have millions of potential combinations then this may not be feasible within Power BI, this column would have terrible compression and most likely exceed any memory limits. However, this method works great.

Using hierarchies in Power BI to map geography data types

Take a look at the screenshot below, the State/Province of Nord in France is being incorrectly mapped to Lebanon.

image

Fortunately, this one can be solved very easily by using hierarchies. Nord, by itself, is not clear enough for Bing maps, however, if we add the country to the visual as well, then the picture becomes clearer and Nord will be properly mapped to France.

1) Add the Country to the Location. The country should show up above the state in the location list as seen in the following screenshot:

Add Country to Location

After adding the country, the map is at the highest level and you would want to now drill down to show the next level in the hierarchy. In the animated gif below, you will notice that Nord is now being mapped correctly in France!

Visual Drilldown

Using the PLACE data categorization in Power BI to map geographical data

In the following image, you will notice the map visual has been filtered down to the state California in the United States and therefore only the cities that exist in California should be displayed. Yet, the map visual is a little confused, and this happens because multiple states could have the same city name.

image

To solve this confusion you want to remove the ambiguity here and create a new calculated column with the city and state combined. Next, assign the new column a data category of Place. See demo below:

DataCategoryPlace

Replace the column city in your map visual with the new column city, state. Here is the final result, the cities are now mapped correctly and only cities directly related to California appear on the map:

image

Thanks for checking out this “Quick Tips” blog. Please check out my YouTube channel to find more Power BI related material!

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