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Google maps and Google fusion tables resources are phenomenal.  You can create maps with statistical analysis as well as with pin pointed address based identification with images.  Somewhat similar tool is Microsoft PowerBI and PowerMap tools. But it requires the latest Office product. You are authorized to get Office365 free due to your studentship with Northwestern University.  Go to  and sign in using the right upper corner pull down menu.  Choose Work/Schoo/University option.  It will allow you to download the full suite of Office365 that includes Excel.  PowerBI is an add on. However, this assignment is a showcase using Google maps and Google Fusion tables.

The R language has a long way to catch up with these tools for its ease and the diversity and the pin-pointed levels of detailed works you can accomplish with latest shape files. So, let us go with Google maps.

The assignment is about usage of county level maps, not more detailed than that.

Step1:  Identify counties with unemployment rate more than 10%, based on the latest numbers released by Bureau of Labor Statistics for December 2015. (50 points)

The following map is an example of counties with unemployment rate more than 10%. Some parts of Kentucky, Mississippi, California seem to be worst hit, according to the latest, DEC15, unemployment rates by counties.  The merged table and the associated map that I created, looks like the one in my blog:

The key learning site you need for your assignment is to use:  However, attending the special Thursday Sync session (18FEB16) would make this an easier piece to follow.

Download the BLS unemployment rates for December 2015 using the link, Download the text file, load it as "|" delimited file into Excel and remove all the other months and save only the DEC-15(P) data to create it as a Fusion table in your google account.  

Download the county level shape files from my directory,

Merge both these accounts using the merge details given here, with in your google account. Details of merge processes are given here: .  This link also has details on how to create the map in minutes.

Step2: Create a choropleth map(the second map in my link) using the "change feature styles"  on the left navigation panel using all the data, with out any filter (50 points)

Submit the these two sharable link as a one page submission, along with the top page with title page.

If you have come up to this, this is the destination for communication and hence for visualization...

1. Prisoner of perception limited by the biological limitations is the condition of being human; so is our ability to extend that for fuller picture strengthened by intelligence and empathy.
2. Context is everything
3. Reality is the purpose, but we are driven with what we can process limited by the biological realities and the context of the receiving/presentation layer
4. Hence to realize the reality,
insight is the way; that is a natural graduation to being a human, though a preliminary version of such a talent exists in all living organisms. 

See the video in the link below, where they come to the above conclusions, in a selection of elaborate

President Obama, our brilliant President hits home runs on all corners.

On its July 11th Special Communication, in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) President Obama published an article about "
United States Health Care ReformProgress to Date and Next Steps" with the author title Barack Obama, JD. with author affiliates details as,  Author Affiliations - President of the United States, Washington, DC

In simple four graphic illustrations he hits home runs on his key purpose and achievements of ACA.

I copy and post here those four graphics, each comes with its conclusion.  Each of these come with proper citation. 

Some important lessons for students.

Simple line graph, bar graph, linear model graph as very powerful and it will solve most of your key communication needs.

Big data revolution has began

What is big data?

How big is big data? 

Human Face of Big Data

Demystifying Hadoop

Big data storymap 

Analytics:  How Big Data Can Solve our Most Complex Problems

Introduction to MapReduce – Map Reduce Programming Tutorial 

Hadoop, cluster computing, and full stack computing architecture

11 Case studies in Big Data Applications 

Value of Big Data – an IT insider View

With well established social media sites and tools, the processes and intelligence of bringing together talent pool is a big-data and analytics driven endeavor. In this exposition, the faculty in Institute of Analytics (USA) ™ will share how we help companies in using big data technology and analytics to rank members from a database for talent acquisition.  The most common social sites that are helpful in talent acquisition and talent validation are Facebook, LinkedIn, and the collection of job-sites. We use big-data technologies, to scour the internet, and rank individuals on the basis of more than 100 dimensions and provide a ranking of individuals on the basis of these scores.  For some clients, we incorporate their employee acquisition database and provide highly personalized scoring algorithm, which are used in real time to score individuals.

The above animations were courtesy of the works from the fifth link, below.

Animation is building a series of images and combining them as a movie.

There are three slightly different ways to do animation. 

(1) You may use package ‘animation’.  This has built it saving facility, to save Flash, GIF, HTML pages, PDF, and Videos, such as saveSWF(), saveGIF(), saveHTML(), saveLatex(), and saveVideo().  While HTMLpages are created using the R and javascript, we need PDF creator for embedding animated graphics with in PDF.

(2) Or you can use R, statistical calculations, and lapply and plot functions, to get codes to draw the sequence of gif files. Combine them using save.gif function available in R, which in turn needs a software in your system to be installed, called, imagemagik (Windows download) – available at the bottom of the site.  Here block updates as screen shots seems to work easily.  These you do them on your own. Going through these helps you understand the foundations of animations.

This approach uses ggplot to capture varying screen shots, with out using gganimate.

(3) Or you can use gganimate to do the animation.

All the methods fundamentally use the following pseudo code approach. (this snippet is from the first reference below) <- function(args.for.stat.method,, …)
i = 1
while (i <= ani.options(“nmax”) & other.conditions.for.stat.method) {
# pause for a while in this step
i = i + 1

# (i – 1) frames produced in the loop
ani.options(“nmax”) = i – 1

Whatever the method you follow, there is more power in animated graphics compared to static graphics. Go animaation! 

  • key references:

Google Fusion tables resources are phenomenal.

Every researcher or BI developer could benefit by this powerful tool.

What fascinated me is that Google already perfected the mapping algorithms, and has the most popular richest repository of mapping assets.

One may wonder, why bother.  After all the county maps, the most often used version of mapping is made into pulp by R developers.

I love R and I recommend R system, for lots of its wonderful functionality.  However, I would say, R has a long way to go, to own or translate the Google map functionality.

Perhaps you may want to just see all the counties with unemployment rate below 3%, a number considered to be full employment, or just counties that exceed unemployment rate more than 10%.  This is an example of counties with more than 10%. Some parts of Kentucky, Mississippi, California seem to be worst hit.

The beauty of google maps and fusion tables is that

  1. you are in the league of the best practices of the world and hence no worries about missing counties, old shape files, …
  2. you are using the full functionality of google map (zoom/real time data possibilities)
  3. your map works can tap into deeper levels of tiger files at all levels of data availability.
The key learning site you need to use are:

To bring together the shape files in one bundle in the right way for fusion tables to work, use the link

Have fun. It is a liberating feeling.  Phew!  Maps have been in my radar for a long time.  Waiting to identify the one that is needed at the foundation level so that the foundation best practices permeates at all levels of functionality is all the worth.

To complete the notes, I also want to bring the following to your attention – ggmap tutorial.  This is a great one, as long as you do not need the dynamic zooming facility.

Also, if you want to work with all types of shape files, it may be argued that you can do that with ggmap.  I find google maps and fusion tables more standardized and easier.

The quick start (cheat sheet) ggmap guide is this two page pdf.

Here is another blogger who uses ggmap with well articulated application.

More country level maps:

Design thinking concept brings out the importance and integration of “Consumer Centric” product development, into the “Consumer Centric” marketing. Read, These principles are fundamental to product usability by product users, digging out the “preferences”, “usage”, and “ambiance” of the markets, so that the full life cycle of the innovation, consumers, and markets are integrated into the development process. – Designing thinking is “…to conceive of a fully developed marketplace, not simply a discrete device” – Design thinking is “… — a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centered design ethos.” – Design thinking facilitates a leadership commitment of “…a profession that blended art, craft, science, business savvy, and an astute understanding of customers and markets” – Design thinking “…is a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” I like the HBR article more than the video below, and it is fun to hear them how they are struggling to articulate…!

Tim Brown – The Design Thinking Guru: From Design to Design Thinking

A quick intro here: