Friday, April 15, 2011

A foray into Google Fusion Tables

I've really been admiring the work of Matt Stiles, Ryan Murphy and others at the Texas Tribune. The crew there has been leader in data journalism, an area I have a lot of interest in. One of the main tools on their data journalism workbench is Google Fusion Tables, which makes visualizing data over a geographical area pretty easy.

So, when an opportunity came up to work on a story here at the Statesman that merged data with geography, I asked Stiles for a 10 minute tour of Fusion Tables, and then dove right in. The result was this four-page set of graphics that map Fitnessgram results (as analyzed by the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living) across Central Texas public school districts and across Texas House districts.

The public nature of Google Fusion Tables made this easier, in that geography for both Texas school districts and the Texas Legislature was available already on Fusion tables (again, thanks to Stiles.)

Mary Ann Roser did a fantastic job on the story, explaining why analysts found these statistics so alarming.

While I'm stoked about this first foray into Fusion Tables, there is much still to learn. I wanted to combine some of the maps on a single page, but when I brought in the new visualization using Javascript, it layered it on the current view instead of replacing it. I also think there is more to do pulling in table information from Fusion Tables using jQuery instead of the Caspio route I took out of familiarity.

There is lots to learn. At least I won't be bored.

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