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June 27, 2011

ATUG Contest: Geographically based Economic data

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At most ATUG (Facebook, LinkedIn) meetings we conduct a group exercise in which the attendees break into small groups, are given an unfamiliar dataset, have 45 minutes to build a dashboard, then present their dashboards.  This past week, due to the richness of the dataset, none of the teams were able to build anything within the time allotted. 

After talking with Tableau, we are turning this into a contest for the ATUG members.  Each member or team that participates will present their dashboard at the next meeting on July 21st (Tableau will host the meeting and present v6.1).  Entries will be judged by John Hoover, Dan Murray and I (and maybe someone from Tableau).  We’re working on a prize with Tableau.

To be eligible, you must attend the next ATUG meeting in person, but if anyone else wants to submit a viz, please do so; it’s a great dataset.  You can post your entries via comment to this blog post.

The contest is based on the Yale University G-Econ research project.  From their website:

The G-Econ research project is devoted to developing a geophysically based data set on economic activity for the world. The current data set (GEcon 4.0) is now publicly available and covers "gross cell product" for all regions for 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005 and includes 27,500 terrestrial observations. The basic metric is the regional equivalent of gross domestic product. Gross cell product (GCP) is measured at a 1-degree longitude by 1-degree latitude resolution at a global scale.

You can find the following at this link (

  1. The data in XLS, XLSX and Tableau Data Extract format (I have built a few custom calcs and a parameter into the extract).  The fields have some funky names, so refer to the “definitions” tab in the Excel workbook for explanations (I have renamed a few of them in the Tableau workbook).
  2. A Tableau packaged workbook (ATUG June 2011.tbwx)
  3. Meeting materials from the last meeting (for those curious to see the content of a typical ATUG meeting)

Below is a sample dashboard I created.  Be patient as the viz loads.  There are 27k+ data points that need to load into each map. 

  • You can filter the maps by lassoing an area on any of the maps.  Lasso South America in the Population Change map and you’ll see a cool display in the other three maps.
  • Use the Year selector next to the Population Change map to see the population change over time.  Notice how much movement there has been from 2000-2005 versus 1990-2005.

Good luck!  Send me an email if you have any questions.

June 24, 2011

LeBron James’ Effectiveness – My Take

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I love the chart above from the I Love Charts blog.  However, shouldn’t the x-axis be Q1-Q4.  :-)

June 14, 2011

How wide is the UK education gap? Hint: It’s wider than you think

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Back in December I critiqued a viz about the gap between the Russell Group of universities and several of the rest.  The Data Visualization Challenge sparked me work on part 2 of my analysis.

Over here in the States, when you hear of Oxford or Cambridge, you think of exclusivity and an incredible (and incredibly expensive) education.  I never knew much about the UK educational system until recently, thanks to the Guardian Datablog

I’ve once again turned to the flexibility of Tableau (the parameters feature is a huge help) to create this viz which details the gap between what is essentially the rich and the poor.  Play around with the colors, shape sizes and the scatter plot.  Click on a bubble and its stats will appear at the bottom. 

You’ll certainly find something interesting including:

  • Kings College London has the highest % of free school meal students, but only at 5.3% (the average is 6.47%)
  • Oxford is indeed elitism, at least the data suggest such: 47% of students are independent while only 0.8% are FSM
  • 60 of the 87 schools in the dataset (69%) have a below average % of independent students, none of the schools being in the Russell Group

What do you see?

June 13, 2011

Join us at the June Atlanta Tableau User Group Meet-up!

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Please join us Thursday, June 23rd from 1:00 - 4:00 pm at Coca-cola for a hands-on user group meeting.

This event is a time to share, listen, network and discuss experiences and opportunities with other Tableau users.


  • Thursday, June 23rd from 1:00 - 4:00 pm
  • Coca-cola, 2 Coca Cola Plaza - Learning Room 6, Atlanta, GA 30313 - Map
  • Register here


  • Training - Efficient use of Tableau (Laura Hussey, FTI)
  • Team Project - TARP: Uncover the data
  • Open Forum

Bring your laptop equipped with Tableau because this will be a hands-on session.

IMPORTANT - Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early. You must check in with security and tell them you are there for the Atlanta Tableau User Group meeting. They will call Andy Kriebel to come get you.

We look forward to seeing you!

June 7, 2011

Facts are friendly: Why Cobb County should keep the balanced calendar

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NOTE: The data and charts in this post are excerpts from “The Citizens Report on the Cobb County School District Attendance Calendar”.  There are limitations on the data, but overall I think you’ll agree that the School Board has made an incredible unwise decision to revert to the traditional school calendar.

The data shows overwhelming support for the Balanced Calendar by all stakeholder groups: teachers, staff, parents, students, and the community. The data points are:

  • 2009 Employee Survey
  • 2011 Calendar Survey
  • Board Member Reports & Email Counts
  • 2011 Cobb County Association of Educators Survey

The results of these four data points are remarkably consistent. When presented with the opportunity for a school calendar with a shorter summer and additional week-long breaks versus a later August start date and no additional week-long breaks, all stakeholder groups strongly prefer a calendar with a shorter summer and additional week-long breaks.

Across all data points the margin of preference for the Balanced Calendar is significant, averaging 76.1%. The support ranges from a low of 61.0% to a high of 88.2%.

Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS)
Grade Equivalency (GE) scores for Cobb’s third, fifth, and seventh graders had all been declining in recent years. However, for the first time since 2007, ITBS GE scores in Cobb County increased in 2010 in all of these grade levels.


End-of-Course Test (EOCT)
Results in ELA and Social Studies have maintained a slight but steady increase through the 2010-2011 school year. Results in Science showed a slight decrease in 2010-2011, returning to their 2008 level of 71% meeting or exceeding standards. After a 23% decline in 2008-2009, results in Math dramatically improved by 26% in 2009-2010. They continued to improve by another 11% to 75% in 2010-2011, reaching a level not obtained since 2006-2007.


Teacher absences
Absences down significantly YTD through March 2011 as compared to the last three school years.


This amounts to 15,008.7 fewer days teachers were absent in 2010-2011 versus 2009-2010 through March. This has two benefits. The first is the direct benefit of lower expenses for substitute teachers. Specifically, the direct financial savings are $1,118,381.26 YTD through March 2011, due to lower expenses for substitute teachers. Second, our students benefited by having their own certified teachers in the classroom more often.

Student absenteeism
Absenteeism was down 27,600 days in the first semester of the 2010-2011 school year (August - December 2010). This represents a decrease of 7.5% district-wide as compared to the first semester of the 2009-2010 school year.

Of 120 schools, 75.8% reported improvements in student attendance and 24.2% reported an increase in student absenteeism. As student attendance is the second AYP indicator for elementary and middle schools, the influence of the school calendar on student attendance is vitally important.

Student Discipline
Data available from the Georgia Department of Education (DIS010) through May 17, 2011 shows:


Once the year-end data is available for 2010-2011, the results will need to be adjusted for inclement weather days and the shorter 175-day school year. In total, these two factors should account for 3.4% of any decrease in student discipline.

June 6, 2011

The most dangerous States (if you don’t like disasters)

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The news cycle has been focused on weather disasters lately, particularly tornados.  Thanks to the Guardian (get the data here) we can now “see” the trouble.  The data covers 1959-2010.  It’d be nice to have 2011 YTD in the dataset as well since there seem to have been so many tornados.

There are many options with which to filter on the right and if you want to see the list of disasters for a state or county, simply click on the bubble.

There are some really cool cuts of the data:

  • Filter by hurricanes; the gulf coast lights up!
  • I didn’t know North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa had so many floods
  • Avoid any states along the Mississippi River if you don’t like tornados (and Georgia too)
  • Georgia has had the most recorded tornados since 1959…that both surprises and scares me, especially since they’re in North Georgia
  • There have been more earthquakes in Washington state than California.  Who would have thought that?
  • 9/11 is categorized as a Terrorist attack in Virginia, yet it’s listed as a Fire in New York.  Data cleanliness at its finest!

Do you see anything else interesting?  There is so much to explore.

June 3, 2011

Tableau Viz Contest (Support my entry) – Diet Coke is now the #2 brand…The cola wars continue!

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Please take a second to click this link to give me a quick show of support:

The Tableau Interactive “Viz” contest closed Friday.  The winner chosen will take away a free roundtrip ticket to attend the 2011 Tableau Customer Conference. This includes 3 night’s accommodations at the Encore and a chance to compete in the Iron Viz championship with the winners of two other contests. The winner of Iron Viz will take away a new iPad2, and $2,000.

My time was limited to work on the contest (I’m busy blowing people away with Tableau in my real job) so I updated a viz I created back in December.  The key difference now is that Diet Coke has overtaken Pepsi as the #2 preferred soft drink brand in the world.  You read that right, Coke & Diet Coke are now #1 and #2.  I think we know who’s winning the cola wars now!

The viz below is a cleaned up, simplified version of my December viz.  The purpose is simple, how is Coke performing compared to Pepsi.  Compare historical price trends and shares traded over time.  Using the “Choose a time frame” selector, you can view the data by Year, Quarter, Month or Day…you pick the level of detail you want to see. You can also drill down to specific years (the data starts in 1977 since that’s when Pepsi went public).