Insights for newbies

23 December 2017

Ella Insights blog

Blog written by Ella Mroczek, Graduate Consultant, Interpret Geospatial Solutions

“Insights for ArcGIS is a web-based, data analytics workbench where you can explore spatial and nonspatial data, answer questions you didn't know to ask, and quickly deliver powerful results.” - Esri

Christmas came early this year with the release of Insights for ArcGIS 2.1! Insight licences are now also available through ArcGIS Online – no Portal required, thanks Esri! I got my hands on a licence and was able to experiment with creating a workbook. In this blog, I want to share two ways you might want approach Insights, if you are using it for the first time.

Most people using Insights will have a specific purpose in mind – which is great!  Insights is fast at producing sleek graphs, tables and maps. If you have a specific theme within your data that you want to explore further, you can instantaneously build visual analytics to provide the answers you need. The other advantages of this approach are:

  1. The workflow you follow to build your workbook is automatically captured in a process diagram

  2. The data in the workbook can be easily updated

  3. Once the workbook is built it can be shared for others to view

  4. The ‘data cards’ that show the infographics in your workbook are linked. For example, if you select something on a graph, it will highlight on the map, or vice versa. This adds a level of user interactivity and automated connectivity between fields and data not seen in any other Esri product, it’s a powerful way to find quick answers.

Reporting is a key component for many organisations, and I believe this is where the power of Insights truly lies. Insights allows spatial and non-spatial data to be plugged into a workbook, relationships to be established, and data filters specified. Changes, spikes and trends become immediately apparent in the infographics and these irregularities or patterns can then be explored further on the map at the attribute level. I like to think of Insights as a supercharged Excel spreadsheet that has been specifically designed for integration with spatial data.

But what if you don’t know what you want to know? You can also approach Insights heuristically, with the aim of discovering new relationships or trends within your dataset. This means that instead of having specific questions to answer, your goal is to find out the questions you need to ask. Insights is integrated with ArcGIS Online, which means you can use insights to initially scope out your data and use ArcGIS Pro to do the heavy analysis or to prepare your data schema. You can then use insights as your method of presenting or sharing your findings with others. The advantages of this approach are:

  1. Analysis on Insights is done on the fly; plug in your fields and out comes a new map layer or graph. The analytical options are not necessarily suitable for your requirements or are incompatible with your data. Bringing data into ArcGIS Pro allows you to either prepare the data for Insights or do other targeted analysis.

  2. Exploring your data in Insights, with the ability to examine attributes across fields and datasets both graphically and spatially, might mean you uncover a pattern or trend you weren’t anticipating.

The images included in this blog are from a worksheet I put together displaying visual analytics for motorcycle crashes occurring in Northland. It was fascinating to see crash data displayed from this perspective, even by creating a simple worksheet from raw data I was able to much better understand the relationships between different factors that contribute to a crash.

To sum up, I would highly recommend giving Insights a go yourself.  Sign up for a Free Trial, plug in your own data and let me know what you think ( Currently Insights workbooks cannot be shared outside your own organisation, so for now, let’s get talking about it!

Ella Insights blog2