In September 2016, we started a journey to change how business users interact with data on maps. In collaboration with Esri, a leader in the geographic information systems (GIS) industry, we released the first version of ArcGIS Maps for Power BI as a preview. Now, we're excited to announce that ArcGIS Maps for Power BI has reached general availability (GA).

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

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.

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 'edit' option in the "…" menu at the top of the visual.

For those of you new to ArcGIS Maps for Power BI, let's review the base functionality of the map:

  • Select from four base maps, including dark gray, light gray, open street maps, and Esri’s standard ArcGIS base map.
  • Choose a map theme, including points, points with size, heat map, and clusters
  • Advanced styling properties, including detailed color settings
  • Interactive reference layers, including demographic layers, and public layers shared by ArcGIS Online users worldwide.

This already quite a bit of mapping goodness. Digging a little deeper you’ll see the richness of Esri’s map reveal itself as you dig into the toolbar that you can reach through the ‘edit’ option in the “…” menu at the top of the visual.

The first thing you’ll notice is the Location Type options that help you show data accurately on the map. The options are adaptive, so if you place a street address in the location field, you’ll get geocoding options for points. If instead, you put province/state names, you’ll get geocoding options for boundaries. You can narrow the location detection to a single country, useful to give hints when city names could be present in multiple countries, for example, Paris, France, and Paris, Georgia, USA. The map automatically detects standard boundaries, and you can fine tune it by selecting a specific country and standards-based boundary identification numbers.

Making sure that data on the map clearly stands out against the map background and conveys the right meaning to your audience is tricky. The ArcGIS Maps for Power BI provides many option detailed Symbol Style options, including the ability to set the shape of data points, control size, outline color, line thickness, transparency. There’s detailed control over colors using a selection of color ramps and the ability to specify colors.

The Esri map provides a rich set of analytics so you can get more from your data. You can draw attention to specific points on the map by dropping pins to highlight location. It works very well with the new drive times feature, which really starts showing the power of GIS. Let’s say you’d like to know which customers are located within a 15-minute drive time of your distributors. You can now load the customer data into your map, drop a pin where your distributor is located, add a 15-minute drive time and see immediately which customers would be better served if you added another distributor to the region. If you’re a pizza restaurant, you know how important 15-minute drive times are, especially if you want to guarantee delivery within 30 minutes of receiving an order.

The reference layers feature gives you access to demographic data for the United States. The image shows median disposable income for 2016's curated by ESRI, allowing you to quickly qualify leads based on their affluence. Depending on the product or service, you’re selling targeting the right audience will save you time reaching your goals.

The new infographic cards feature helps you understand your data in even more detail. For example, we can add infographic cards for Median Household Income, Per Capita Income, Average Household Size, Median Age, and Total Population to the map, among others. Perhaps the most exciting part of it is that when you select elements on the map, the infographic cards update to show the demographic data apportioned based on a radius surrounding the selected element. This is how ArcGIS Maps for Power BI reveals the context behind your data.

When you complete your ArcGIS Maps for Power BI visual, you can take advantage of the interactivity provided by the map. As you select map elements like the drive time area, the map selects the contained data points and the other visuals on the page show data filtered to those data points.

To learn more about ArcGIS Maps for Power BI, watch this webinar to see these capabilities in more depth.

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