Giving analysts the power to analyze data within minutes has changed the way large and complex datasets are viewed. No longer does the data need to go through the technical process of being formatted, geocoded, symbolized, and then combined with graphs created in Excel and other programs. Now our analysts can drop a spreadsheet into Insights and create maps, graphs, and charts within minutes. And the best part is, they aren’t static. The interconnectivity of everything that’s created within the workbooks, allow us to dig deeper into the data. For example, we can use Insights to better understand a nationwide school shooting database. If we want to select a time frame during a day and see exactly where shootings occurred during those times and what types of guns were used, we can do that. As you click around the cards that are created within Insights, you’ll see the graphs and maps change to reflect what’s connected to what you’ve clicked on. In law enforcement, time is critical, and Insights takes away the longer processes that have been in place in the past when dealing with GIS. It is also much easier and intuitive with a drag and drop interface.
One of the big questions we first had with Insights however was, how can we share out the cards that we create? The good news is that there are multiple ways of sharing data, including embedding the cards that you create in Story Maps or Dashboards. One of the other great features is that everything you do within Insights is recorded and saved as a model, so you can upload an updated dataset without having to go through the card creation process that you went through originally. This also allows others within your organization to use the models you’ve created, and enter their own datasets.
We’ve just scratched the surface with Insights, but we’re excited to see the potential uses for it. We’re also excited to put GIS into the hands of non-GIS users and let them see how GIS can benefit them. Whether its Insights, Operations Dashboards, or Survey123, it’s crucial that public safety personnel stay up to date with new geospatial technologies to better protect the citizens they serve.
Disaster Intelligence Officer
Illinois State Police