CartoDB: Combining Data with Location

CartoDB has expanded its reach.  The company, established in 2011 by two Spanish biodiversity and conservation scientists, was originally designed for map makers and data scientists, but now it is helping other industries visualize their data in map form.  As of July 21st, CartoDB has a new feature that will analyze any data that is entered and will automatically create a map using the relevant information.  It is called One-Click Mapping, and it could change the way data is presented in the business world.

Until now, use of the software required at least a basic knowledge of statistics and geospatial data, as well as the ability to distinguish which data could be mapped and what parameters to use.  Now, CartoDB does the calculations for you. Simply enter the data, choose from a list of suggested maps, and click to get a visualization of the relevant information.

Location can be a rather helpful tool for businesses. According to Chief Science Officer Andrew Hill, “A lot of times people miss how valuable location can be to communicate things.  If you can connect information to geospatial data, people can understand how it’s affecting their daily [lives] and really interact with the data.”

The way it works is, once a user uploads data to it, the system pulls apart the file and searches for any geospatial information in the data.  It then analyzes the other information to determine which maps to suggest to the user.  The user then chooses from the handful of suggested maps (which can be altered or customized if desired), and the data is then presented in map form.

CartoDB has already been used to map everything from entertainment trends (like real-time reactions to the release of Beyoncé’s new album), to scientific readings (like the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake), to news and social issues (like how quickly news spread via Twitter in the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri).  Now, businesses can use it to help make sense of the data they are collecting.  Banks use it to map credit card transactions and track patterns, for example.  Product and service providers can use it to find out where they are most popular with consumers.  And, the more it is used to analyze data, the smarter it will get.

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