A few weeks ago, my wife and I, along with three other couples, attended the Vineyards of Swan Creek Spring Herb Festival. While we were in the YadkinValley, we wanted to visit some other nearby wineries.
In order to see where other wineries in the area were located, I created a Google Fusion Table and displayed the data on an interactive map (clicking on the graphic below will open the interactive map):
The green pushpins represent the five vineyards that participated in the Herb Festival, the yellow pushpin our hotel and the red pushpins other wineries in the area. Clicking on any pushpin will display information about that location.
Why is this relevant?
By now, you’re probably thinking this is nice, but what if I don’t care about visiting wineries?
Would it be helpful to see, on a map, where water main leaks have been reported?
Or maybe you’ve wondered if your meter reading routes are as efficient as they could be. Wouldn’t being able to see them visually on a map be helpful?
Creating a Fusion Table
Creating a Fusion Table is as easy as exporting data from a spreadsheet as a comma-separated values (CSV) file and uploading it to Google. For my winery map example, I used the name of the vineyard, location, phone number and icon style (to display the green, yellow and red pushpins).
One quirk of Fusion Tables is the location must be all in one column – it won’t accept Address, City, State and Zip Code in separate columns as they are stored in most databases. To remedy this, use the concatenate function in Excel.
Let’s assume you have a spreadsheet with Address in column A, City in column B, State in column C and Zip Code in column D. The following formula will merge them into a single field in another column:
=CONCATENATE(A2, ” “, B2, “, “,C2, ” “, D2)
Fusion tables allow for 10 icon (pushpin) styles – two sizes (large and small) and five colors (yellow, green, blue, purple and red). The icon style must be defined in your data or they can be dynamically assigned by ranges of numeric values. Unfortunately, they can’t be dynamically assigned by non-numeric data.
Viewing the data
Once the data has been imported into a Fusion Table, it can be viewed in one of three formats – rows, cards or on a map. The row view is displayed in a grid, much like a spreadsheet. The cards view reminds me of a rolodex card and the map view is just what you would expect.
Give it a try!
Go ahead – create your own Fusion Table and experiment with it. You will have to have a Google Account (you already have one if you have a Gmail e-mail address).
Once you have a Google Account, just follow this tutorial to start creating your first map. It’s as easy as that!
If you’ve got questions about using Fusion Tables, feel free to give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2014 Gary Sanders