How to use InstantAtlas Dashboard Builder – Video tutorial

InstantAtlas Dashboard Builder allows you to create highly interactive dashboards with an exciting range of charts, tables and maps. In this video tutorial Joyce Luk, from the IA support team, explains some of the most important features and concepts of Dashboard Builder which will help you to create a beautiful and interactive data visualization.

So sit back and let Joyce help you get the most out of InstantAtlas Dashboard Builder.


Video transcription

Hello, everyone. Welcome to InstantAtlas Dashboard Builder online tutorial. My name is Joyce Luk. I am part of the support team at GeoWise in the UK. Today I’ll be going through some of the basics of using Dashboard Builder with you. If you haven’t created a dashboard yet, or are just getting started, then you are at the right place. I hope this tutorial will help you create a dashboard with you own data and map.

So first things first. What is Dashboard Builder? Dashboard Builder is a cloud-based app that allows you to create a dashboard with high-engaging data visualization online. So you might wonder, what is a dashboard? A dashboard is essentially a web page made up of individual widgets that allow the end users to interact dynamically. The best way to explain this to you is to show you an example dashboard I’ve created for this tutorial. Here I have got a dashboard which uses the map and dummy data for the US states. Each individual box here is the widgets.

As the creator of this dashboard, I can choose what widgets I want to show. For example, I’ve got a map widget here, a legend, a pie chart, a bar chart, and a data table. They are currently showing the indicator data, The end users can choose to display a different indicator by clicking on their Data button to open up the Data Explorer widget, and then select a different indicator from the list. As you can see, all the widgets will now populate the data values of the selected indicator.

When I click on a map feature, for example, Arizona, the data value of Arizona is now highlighted in each of the widgets. And if I clear the data and click on Florida in a data table, the map will automatically zoom into Florida. It is these interactions between different widgets that make otherwise static data more engaging and visually appealing to the end users. Now I have shown you what dashboard is.

I’m going to show you how to log in to Dashboard Builder and create a dashboard. To log into Dashboard Builder, go to Click Sign In and then Email, and then use you InstantAtlas online account email address and password to sign in. You should see a landing page like this. Click on the Dashboard Builder button to open the app. I am now in the Dashboard Builder landing page. You can see that are four tabs, which I refer them as folders, since they basically store different types of files in the Dashboard Builder accounts.

The first one is called Dashboards, where it stores all the dashboards that have been created. You can see there are quite a few here. The second one is called Maps, where it stores all the digital maps available to you that can be used to create a dashboard. The third folder is called Data, where it stores the data files you’ve uploaded that can then be linked to a dashboard. 74 The last folder is called Images, where it contains all the PNG or JPEG images you’ve uploaded. I’m going to show you how to upload a map and a data file in the respective folder.

And I’m going to start with the Maps folder, since the dashboard can only be created if there is a map. 80 In the Maps folder, you should see a subfolder called  Core  Maps. Here you can find a collection of commonly used maps, such as the world map. And in the UK maps folder, we have maps such as the Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies, wards, [INAUDIBLE] for England, and many more. If you couldn’t find a map that you’re looking for, you can upload a map yourself. And if you don’t know where you could get hold of a map, don’t worry.

Please do contact us at And we will be able to help you find a map. 94 The map that can be uploaded onto the Dashboard Builder has to be in a shape  file format. A  shape  file is a common digital map format. 97 Although its name implies it’s a single file, it actually contains multiple files with different extensions that share the same file name. Here I have a  shape  file for Louisiana Parish, which I’m going to upload into my Dashboard Builder account. Before I can upload the  shape  file into my account, I need to zip the files first. Now that the files are zipped, I can direct the zip folder to the upload button in the Maps folder.

Now that the map is uploaded into the Maps folder, I can’t preview the map by clicking on the Map button to open up the Preview dialog. I can also click on the Table button to open the table showing the attributes of the Map feature. Here, the map has two column views. The first one contains the codes for each parish. And the second one contains the names of the parish. Now I’ve going to use the map to create a dashboard.

To do that, simply click on the desk top button and the map menu. A dialog will open asking me to specify the name of the dashboard, and assign a column field from the map to be used as the feature ID and feature name. A dashboard is now created with the uploaded map. We are now in the Dashboard Editor. There is a manual at the top. You can toggle between the preview and edit mode of the dashboard by clicking this button. In the edit mode, you can move the widgets around. Or delete them with the cross buttons at the top right corner. And in a preview mode, you can see how the widgets will look like in front of the end users.

To add widgets, click on the Widgets button, and then select the widgets you wish to add. The property panel of the widget is to the left. It shows all the settings of the selected widgets. You can select widgets by clicking on the widgets itself, or go to the Properties panel, click on the Select button, and select the widgets from the list. To save a dashboard, you can click on the Save button. The Style and Legend settings for the dashboard are listed in the Styling and Legend tabs.

With a simple click, you can change the design of the dashboard. For example, you can specify the color scheme of the dashboard in the Styling tab. To open the color scheme dialog, click on the Color Scheme button here. Select a color from the color swatch, and then choose one of the options at the bottom. You should see the colors for the buttons, the widget headers, and the panels have all been changed. You can also specify the color of the legend with a simple click. Go to the Legend tab, and then select a color scheme. You can refer the legend colors with this Refers button, Or use the minus or plus buttons here to delete or add the number of classes.

You can see the effect on the legend straightaway here. There is so much you can do with the dashboard, which I’m not able to run through the functions here. If you need to find more information on Dashboard Builder, I would suggest you to have to look at the online help. You can access the online help by clicking the link here. If you cannot find what you’re looking for in the online help page, then please by all means get in touch with us at Our next step in this tutorial is to associate data to this dashboard.

For this I would need to get out of this dashboard first, and explain a bit about the Data tab in the landing page. So I’m going to save the dashboard first by clicking Save here. And I’m going to click down to get out. And now I’m going to move to the data tab. You can see I’ve already got quite a few CSV files here. Dashboard Builder allows you to upload a CSV file with tabular data. Here I’ve got a file with dummy data for Louisiana parish dashboard. If you remember earlier where I have assigned the Louisiana parish code as the feature ID, this column will be used as the common identifier to link the dashboard and the CSV file together. It needs to be set as the first column in the CSV file. The column which is used as the feature names will be the second column in the CSV file. The third column is where I’m going to start to input my indicator data.

Here I have two indicators, each with three different years– I have used a pipe symbol to separate the indicator name and the dates in the header. The reason I do this is because when I upload this onto the Dashboard Builder account, it will automatically recognize the time series data for each indicator. Now I’m going to drag the CSV file over to Upload button to upload it into the data tab. It has now been uploaded. And I can preview the data by clicking at the table button here. I’m happy with that now.

So I will now open the dashboard again and link the CSV file to it. Now that we’re in the dashboard tab, hover over the dashboard, and then click on the notepad button to open up the Dashboard Editor. Once we are in the Dashboard Editor, click on the data button to open up the Data Manager dialog. In this dialog there are two panels. The source data on the left shows all the source data files associated to the dashboard. It currently displays the column fields associated with the Louisiana parish map.

The data model panel to the right displays the current data structure of the dashboard. In here it tells me that the  coats  field is used as the feature ID. And the Names field is used as feature names. To link the CSV file to this dashboard, click the CSV button, and Choose CSV File. Select the Louisiana parish  rec  book. Click Choose, and then Next. You can see all the CSV columns are now listed here. Click Finish. And they are now copied into their source data panel. I’m going to replace the current data structure with the data from the CSV file.

Before I do that, I’ll click on the Clear button to clear the current data structure. And then to I’m going to rename the theme. Now I’m going to use the Shift key to select multiple indicators, and then drag to the data model, and put them under the Health theme. I’m going to rename the indicator. Here is the indicator date box. You can see the dates have already been filled for me. This is because I have used a pipe  symbol in the CSV field header.

And this box is where I specify the indicator data type. I can choose between the numeric or categoric data. Since this indicator is numeric, so I’m going to leave it as it is, and click Save. Now that I’m happy with the data structure, I’m going to click on Apply. You can see that the dashboard is now updated with the new data. I’m going to want to replace the bar charts with the time series charts to better showcase the time series data.

Now I’m happy with the dashboard. It’s time to share it to the world. Up until now, the dashboard is private, which means only the author can view it. So you will need to make the dashboard public for others to view it. First I’m going to save the dashboard. And now I’m going to click Done to get back to the landing page. Once we’re in the dashboards tab, hover over the dashboard and click on the cartwheel button. This will open up the dashboard properties dialog.

To share the dashboard, click Share. And if you want to allow other InstantAtlas online uses to save a copy of the disk dashboard, then click Allow Save as Box, and then click Apply. You can view this dashboard by clicking on the eye button. This dashboard, it can now be viewed by anyone. And you can share this dashboard by giving out the URL link here. The URL link it can also be retrieved by clicking on the Share button here. I have now covered all the basics of Dashboard Builder.

Thank you for joining me in this tutorial. I hope you have found it useful, and got all the information to help you getting started.

Thank you.

New Place Survey Results reports for England

A new set of national reports (for England) have just been launched to deliver the recently published Place Survey results – they are available from  The interactive reports were created with InstantAtlas Desktop version 6.1.

LSR Place Survey

LSR Place Survey

The project was commissioned by Leicestershire County Council and published using their Leicestershire Statistics & Research Online service to make these survey results widely available across their internal partnership of organisations.

These reports were built by the InstantAtlas Support Team.

The reports make best use of the new InstantAtlas Version 6 features including:

(1)    Dynamic filtering based on any selected set.

(2)    New geographic filters have been added including statistical nearest neighbours (to subset the top 10 authorities that are most statistically alike – this is ideal for benchmarking purposes).

(3)    Use of symbols (and compatible  map classification) to allocate authorities into 5 categories (quintiles) allowing users to quickly review ‘problem areas’.

(4)    Ability to present multiple selected areas in the profile chart to aid comparison.

(5)    Ability to show multiple comparator areas in the profile chart – in this case the respective Government Region and the England average.

(6)    Usability improvements allowing users to re-size any window and open/close other windows over the top of existing ones.

(7)    Improved report load time for reports based on larger datasets.

To find out more about the Place Survey and see other reports go to our dedicated InstantAtlas Place Survey page.

Health Organisations use InstantAtlas to map growth of Swine Flu H1N1

In this posting we preview the first templates created with the new InstantAtlas V6 Single Map template, the first V6 template to be released.  These include atlases created by the Pan American Health Organization and the Ministry of Health, Chile on the spread of Swineflu H1N1.

The West Midlands Regional Observatory have also been doing work with InstantAtlas V6. We showcase two of their new applications, one looking at the cultural economy of the region, the other at excess winter deaths. The latter presents work completed in partnership with Sandwell Primary Care Trust.

The spotlight is cast on Performance Reporting and Mapping.  We have selected three recent client examples using InstantAtlas present performance reports on key indicators and trends. In conjunction with this focus we are launching a new Resource Pack around Performance Reporting and Mapping of key indicators.

Finally we take a look at a new set of Data & Report Packs to support UK customers of InstantAtlas Server delivering a Local Information System or Data Observatory.  These packs reflect interest from customers in streamlining data management tasks.

David Carey

Marketing Manager

Featured Application

WMRO | New InstantAtlas Reports – West Midlands Regional Observatory

“InstantAtlas enables us to present data geographically in interactive maps to make it more accessible to our users.  It helps to compare and contrast different areas within the region to determine which issues are affecting those areas the most.  In particular, we have found InstantAtlas to be a useful tool in helping us to highlight key regional issues and challenges emerging from our State of the Region work, which is publicly available via our website.  Other regional partners have also found the tool to be very useful.  We are now starting to use Version 6 of InstantAtlas which offers some significant enhancements in areas like performance (we can now display LSOA level data for the whole region) and usability.”

Naomi Winchurch, Researcher WMRO

Cultural Economy Atlas – Based on NEW V6 Single Map Template

Excess winter deaths and fuel poverty

Sandwell Primary Care Trust and the West Midlands Public Health Observatory (WMPHO) have jointly been addressing the area of excess winter deaths to inform the reducing excess winter deaths programme, an NHS West Midlands Investing for Health project. WMPHO provided the data on excess winter deaths.

The Investing for Health project also examines the relationship between excess winter deaths and fuel poverty. We helped to share this information by presenting data on excess winter deaths and the fuel poverty indicator through interactive maps. You can use the maps to view the data geographically.

View the atlases:

Excess winter deaths index and number of excess winter deaths    PCT | Local Authority

Fuel poverty indicator at LSOA – Based on NEW V6 Single Map Template

Swineflu H1N1 | Outbreak Maps


Following the latest pandemic outbreak of H1N1 flu from Mexico and into North America, organizations have been keen to harness InstantAtlas to get the outbreak data out quickly around the world to agency and public audiences. Some of the examples on the special presentation page make use of our new InstantAtlas Version 6 Single Map template.

View Special Presentation

Client Spotlight | Performance Reporting Examples

NHS Community Health Profiles

The Association of Public Health Observatories was commissioned by the Department of Health in 2005 to produce Health Profiles. Health Profiles provide a snapshot of health for each local council in England using key health indicators, which enables comparison locally, regionally and over time.

View Report

Norfolk Performance Scorecard

This Instant Atlas report was created to demonstrate how you can present and track a defined set of Performance Indicators (PIs) at a small area (Ward) level.  It is an example of an interactive dashboard or scorecard.  Two areas can be compared to review current state against target.  It can be used to present performance at a much more localised level to enable communities to understand priorities and, potentially, get involved in setting targets.

View Report

Yorkshire Futures: Monitoring Progress in the Region

This report was developed to complement the annual Progress in the Region report created by the Regional Observatory.  It provides an interactive picture to explore inter- and intra-regional performance patterns and trends.

View Report

InstantAtlas Resource Packs


NEW – Performance Reporting and Mapping

The value of utilising geography in performance management and reporting is becoming widely recognised. Incorporating geography into performance allows you to:-

1. Understand geographic levels of variation and inequality particularly where there are targets to ‘narrow the gap’;

2. Rapidly benchmark areas of interest with geographic and statistical neighbors;

3. Identify ‘problem hotspots’ and target policy and practical interventions more effectively;

4. Make performance reports more relevant and useful to area-based managers and elected officials by delivering performance profile reports using their own geographies; and

5. Meet the rising expectations of your citizen audience by making reports more personalised and useful to citizens.

For more information on the use of InstantAtlas for Performance Reporting visit our Online Resource Pack

Classroom Training in InstantAtlas


Due to high demand from our customers InstantAtlas are now offering a new and comprehensive classroom based training package.  These will be more cost-effective

than on-site training.  IA Classroom training courses are hosted in our Edinburgh office.

For further details please contact – Sophie Lloyd

Latest Product News – InstantAtlas V6 | NEW Single Map Template


The new 6.0 version of the Single Map Template is now available.

This new release delivers significant improvements in performance, presentation, style and functionality. V6 is written to take advantage of Adobe’s Flex technology for developing Rich Internet Applications (or RIAs).

Existing customers wishing to upgrade to V6 please contact support.

InstantAtlas Server | NEW Data and Report Packs


OCSI ( We are launching a set of Data and Report Packs in partnership with OCSI to support nationally published statistical data, in response to interest from customers in streamlining data management tasks.

With nationally published data – we are (1) adding intelligence to the data through creation of rates, ranks and suitable comparators; (2) enhancing supplier metadata where necessary; and (3) most significantly we are including a range of outputs (Profile Reports and Data Views) built by OCSI which you can then customise if you wish.

Further details of these new Data and Report Packs are available in our Pack Overview (see left to download).  Detailed specifications of the packs are available on request – contact John at

Seminars & Conferences | Where to see InstantAtlas

BURISA 2009 Annual Conference

“Location, location, location – Whither Geographical Information”

14th May 2009 – Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, UK

This year’s BURISA Conference is the ideal opportunity to catch up with progress and issues in geographical information, demystify the jargon and look ahead to future developments.

URISA’s Second GIS in Public Health Conference

June 5-8, 2009 – Providence, Rhode Island, US

The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) is hosting the second specialty conference to explore the many uses of GIS for public health access, processes, and decision-making. – Click here for Further details of the Conference

North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR)

2009 Annual Conference – June 13-19, 2009 San Diego, California, US

This year’s conference, “Charting the Course to a New World in Cancer Surveillance” will highlight new directions in cancer surveillance with current and future technologies in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, as well as innovations in bioinformatics and genetics as these impact the cancer data collection

InstantAtlas will be demonstrated at these conferences, if you wish to be given a demo at the event email us at