USING GEOTAGS IN INFORMER

by | Mar 31, 2021

Chris Reeves, VP of Informer Partnerships, explores the benefit of using third party tools to enhance Informer 5.

Our clients and partners have found many use cases for incorporating Google Maps with geotag data into Dashboards and Reports. There are police departments looking at crime incidents and how they’re concentrated within specific locales. Municipalities can also analyze car accidents and how to better traffic patterns. Distributors can optimize the product flow of their supply chain. Informer’s pluggable architecture provides limitless potential in utilizing location data with out-of-the-box functionality and third-party tools.

Informer comes with a Flow Step called “Zip2Geo.” This allows users to reference zip codes to generate an average latitude and longitude for each row of data. This then gets plotted onto a Google Map highlighting concentrations with colors and markers. To map individual addresses with their coordinates, we looked at third party tools and created a plugin and Flow Step using Geocodio’s API.

In my Informer instance I also have the Google Maps Plugin installed. This plugin enables full use of embedded Google Maps inside Informer. To use this plugin you must obtain a Google Maps API Key found here. Note there is a potential cost associated with the Google Maps API Key, but it only kicks in with enormous volume requests.

For this demonstration, I found a dataset containing the street addresses of nearly 2000 McDonald’s restaurants. Once loaded as an Informer Dataset, we can begin to process the addresses.

The Geocod.io plugin injects a new Flow Step into Informer. Simply add the new Geocode Flow Step to your Dataset and identify the column containing full street address data. The Flow Step will POST those addresses to the Geocod.io API and in return populate your Dataset with new columns containing associated latitude and longitude.

The Geocod.io Plugin injects a new Flow Step into Informer
The Geocod.io Flow Step populates the dataset with new columns, one of which is the latitude and longitude of the provided address

Informer recognizes the latitude and longitude column as being a datatype of Location, and the Google Maps visual accepts the Location datatype to generate a Google Map with Location markers. You can now zoom into a Google Map, click a marker, and choose to view with Google Street View!

Have a look for yourself and find your local McDonald’s. Drill down into the dashboard, click on a marker and select “Street view” for a fully interactive street view of that location. I’ve created the visual and included it in a dashboard:

The Google Maps Visual accepts a Dataset field with a Location data type
The Geocod.io Plugin and Google Maps Visual produce a Google Map with street view level accuracy

Geocodio is one of many such geotag services available online. We chose to use it here because they offer a reasonably high volume of free lookups per day – currently 2,500. So it works well for demonstration purposes. But Informer can easily support other services in the same way and achieve the same result. If your organization is interested in learning more, get in touch with the support staff at i5support@entrinsik.com and we’ll discuss details.

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