Maps are in many ways quintessential to understanding the data around us and they provide the geographic context that empowers decision making. But maps alone are just a small part of what it takes to make geographic data shine. Beyond plain maps, Microsoft Power BI is unlocking new capabilities that let you take geographic information to a whole new level in collaboration with Esri, a leader in the geographic information systems (GIS) industry.

What is GIS? It’s the combination of authoritative data layers on a map with spatial analysis applied to gain a better understating of your world. It’s a way to discover, use, make and share the maps that are important to your organization.

We’re excited to share at Microsoft Ignite that soon Power BI users can use ArcGIS Maps for Power BI (preview) created by Esri. This preview will bring new capabilities to all Power BI users.

The ArcGIS Maps for Power BI visual is provided by Esri, so before you get started, you’ll need to consent to Esri’s terms of service and privacy statements, and acknowledge you’re using the services operated by Esri in Power BI. 

Power BI report with ArcGIS Maps for Power BI visual

Once you’re using the Esri visual, you’ll receive access to features that take mapping beyond the presentation of points on a map into the land of GIS. We added a new ‘edit mode’ that the Esri visual uses to provide a full screen editing experience. Look for the pencil button in the top right corner of the visual to enable the edit mode. 

Let’s start with the basics. You can change the base maps of the Esri visual. It supports four base maps including dark gray, light gray, open street maps, and Esri’s standard ArcGIS base map.

ArcGIS Maps for Power BI base map options

Next you can choose map themes. These let you change how your data appears on the map. You can of course select point based or shape based maps. ArcGIS Maps for Power BI will automatically show shapes if you bind state names, or points if you bind latitude and longitude values. In addition, you can easily apply heat maps to spot the intensity of points in a geographic area, or a cluster map that shows the number of data points in a specific area.

ArcGIS Maps for Power BI map theme options

You can apply advanced styling properties to the map including setting detailed color preferences like the degree of transparency or the fill color for the map data points. Mapping wonks will love this customizability.

Saving the best for last, the ArcGIS Maps for Power BI visual goes a step beyond. Not only can you plot data points from Power BI, but you can also add reference layers. Layers include a selection of demographic layers provided by Esri and public web maps or those published into Esri’s Living Atlas. You will be able to create a compelling analysis that also provides reference information to get more context from the data you have in Power BI. Hover over a block group in the Median Household Income layer to find out who your customers are in a specific area. 

ArcGIS Maps for Power BI demographics options

But there’s more to it. Not only can you combine these layers with your Power BI data, you can select across the layers you chose to include. For example, by pressing the reference layer selection mode, you can select all the Power BI data points that fall within a polygon on your reference layer. From selecting all the data points in a zip code to selecting the customers most likely to be flooded during a storm surge, you can now do GIS within Power BI.

ArcGIS Maps for Power BI ArcGIS reference layers

Stay tuned for the ArcGIS Maps for Power BI preview and to see more capabilities. 

Read all about ArcGIS Maps for Power BI click here