Reply To: What data viz tools are you using?

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Becky Wilkes

Hi Mike,
I agree with you on being a fan of QGIS! It’s amazing what it will do, and with no licensing fees.

I would also like to add that a basic ArcGIS online account is free. Though it does not carry the full data analysis capabilities of the paid desktop version, it is great for viewing a basic areas shapefile, such as one appropriate for choropleth shading (e.g., darker colors for districts with higher rates of disease) which can be plotted on top of ESRI’s free-to-display base map information (you can choose from a number of different background styles, and set the shaded layer to be partially transparent, on top).

It can also plot x, y and label coordinate information from a CSV file (CSV stands for “comma-separated-values”, and can be exported from Excel). These points can be viewed in various shapes and sizes, which can change according to various values stored for the points, in the same spreadsheet. For example, if you had x,y coordinates for health facilites, you could show hospitals in one symbol, smaller clinics in another, and pharmacies in another, and you could label each with its name.

A good workflow is to create and export shapefiles in QGIS, and then export them to ArcGIS online, for viewing and sharing. Though as I mentioned earlier, this would not be appropriate for sensitive or individually-identifying information.