the kdmcinfo weblog

#DataViz Tuesday: Fusion Tables, Business Infographics & Playing With Legos

Data Graphic

The fine folks on the data team at the Guardian UK share their favorite free visualization tools:

Google Fusion Tables, according to Simon Rogers, a news editor for the Guardian, has become their go-to tool of choice to make quick and dirty maps.

"You don't have to be a coder to make one - and this Fusion layers tool allows you to bring different maps together or to create search and filter options, which you can then embed on a blog or a site," Rogers writes.

OpenStreetMap versus Google Maps — Lucy Chambers of the Open Knowledge Foundation wonders which one is better:

Google Maps has become the industry standard tool for consumers and increasingly publishers, but usage of OpenStreetMap has also been on the rise. OpenStreetMap is open-source and community-built tool that crowdsources many of its data points.

Chambers was recently on a business trip to Sarajevo and compared the differences in the two mapping services. What she found out was kind of surprising.

Map Comparison of Sarajevo

"The stark difference between these two images of Sarajevo really brought home the impressive coverage of OpenStreetMap and more importantly it really shows the power of open data, open software and communities of people driven to solve problems," Chambers writes.

Despite what we often want to think, journalists didn't discover infographics. The vast majority of them are still being produced in the business world. The Washington Post three such businesses how they use infographics:

Nicholas Reese, chief executor of Microbrand Media, told the Post that infographics are outstanding for bringing life to content that would otherwise be dry, uninteresting or unshareable.

"Given their advantages, infographics have become an essential tool in our marketing strategy because they are a great avenue to get additional social media exposure — along with the SEO benefits of having additional links when our infographics are embedded," Reese said.

Keeping in the spirt of business data visualizations, GM recently began using Legos to visually depict the statuses of their projects:

Seriously. Check out the video below to see how:

Did we miss other bits of data and infographic goodness this week? Let us know in the comments.


To learn how to make data work more for you and your stories, we're putting on a two-day Data Mapping for Beginners workshop this summer.

For more info, check out