Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Find a NPR Station

I have been traveling and forgot to do anything for #TravelMonth, so I will put a couple out that I have been playing with. This is the first.

I may be bucking the trend of my generation, but I don't listen to music in the car. I always listen to NPR though. The first thing I do when traveling to a new place and getting in the rental car is to figure out the local NPR affiliate and change the station.

I love maps, so tracking down and figuring out how to model all the FCC Data for the stations was fun. They have 360 coordinates to plot the ring of station coverage, so Tableau is having to plot 361 points for each station. This is why I decided to display one (my home state) to load. It is about a quarter million points for all of the US. Originally I was going to do it for all radio stations, but it was north of 6 million rows/points and was horendiously slow. I have that dataset if anyone is looking for it, let me know. The coordinates were in 17,000-ish individual KML files that I was able to ETL using Pentaho Data Integration into one dataset.

Dual axis maps are only doable in Tableau if you have the same lat/long field. In my case the station lat/long was different from the coverage area lat/long so I had to put the station info in the center of the coverage area, not where they actually are. That caused some wonkiness with some stations on a coast or border.

I really wish that Tableau would build in location awareness. There are so many ways this could help. Imaging a salesperson loading up a viz and it automatically filters to the state they are in, or clients in a x mile radius. For this example I would love to be able to have it zoom to where you are and then show stations that you can get. Instead I have to lean on the new map search or people manually filtering by state.

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