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.

Friday InstantAtlas link of the day – John Patterson (Blackpool Council)'s new blog and IA User Conference 2012 (Rochdale)!

Friday has started out on an amazing high for me. Not only do we have sugar donuts (courtesy of our lovely Sales team) but we have this awesome unsolicited blog post from blogger John Patterson (Blackpool Council).

Did you present at the conference? If so, head over there quick!

Did you go to the conference? If so, you might be in one or two of his pictures.

Do you want to know what happened at the conference? What are you waiting for – go go go! (I’ll wait right here while you do.)

Now that you’ve read his post, did you wish you went the conference? If so, that makes two of us. That’s right, this friendly neighbourhood Support team member was supposed to present after @frenchpeter. And unfortunately, I was very ill that weekend and could not make it. I can only wonder what @Jonopatterson would have made of my presentation….


New Online public health research tool launched using InstantAtlas

The Centre for Public Health has launched a website, CPHROnline, ( which will allow health professionals, academics and the public to access all kinds of health related data online via a series of interactive maps. The website is a collaboration between Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research,  the Ministry of Health’s Māori Health Directorate and the University of Otago’s Te Ropu Rangahau Hauora A Eru Pomare. It aims to become a repository for public health data from a wide range of organisations.

As well as mapping health data, CPHROnline reports include: bar charts comparing health data between different regions and ‘time series’ charts which show how health indicators within each region have changed over time. Health data accessible through CPHROnline includes “atlases’ on: causes of death (eg, cancer, diabetes), notifiable diseases, demographics, environmental health indicators as well as risk behaviours such as smoking and gambling.

The Māori Health Directorate’s atlas “Māori Health Statistics Online” displays public health data from a Māori perspective. Also, viewers to the Māori Health Directorate’s own website will be able to access this atlas by clicking on the relevant links.

Professor Barry Borman of Centre for Public Health Associate Professor Barry Borman from the Centre, which is part of Massey’s School of Public Health, says CPHROnline allows comparisons to be made between different areas and over time. It also features a ‘double map’, which allows two sets of data within the same health category to be compared.

Initially, the publicly available information needs to be sourced via the District Health Boards, but data at regional council and other geographic divisions will be added as CPHROnline develops.

“Data permitting a time series graph on the reports allows trends to be tracked over time, for example rate of meningococcal disease prior to and following the introduction of the vaccination programme, or new Quitline contacts following the hiking of the tobacco tax.”

The maps and the data will be available for download.

The centre welcomes public inquiries and is happy to discuss hosting data from other departments and organisations on the CPHROnline website.

“We think it’s a great tool for making data more easily accessible to a wide range of people with an interest in health” Professor Borman says.

Caption: Associate Professor Barry Borman

New InstantAtlas Report – ‘Access to Services’ (across Leicestershire)

The effective planning, design and delivery of local services requires a clear understanding of current and future service provision along with an understanding of all service user needs.

Varying requirements such as geographical areas, the range of services provided by diffferent organisations and the quantity and diversity of available information means providing a concise reporting method is not easy.

The ‘Access to Services’ interactive tool developed for the Leicester & Leicestershire LIS ( provides a powerful resource that provides:

  • flexibility to select information relevant to a particular service of interest
  • identification of areas with a particular demographic of service user
  • quantifiable distances to key services that are comparable across the county
  • identification of communities dependent on key services
  • identification of communities potentially disadvantaged in the access to a service

The purpose of the tool is to provide an opportunity to compare different geographical locations and demographic groups. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive understanding of access to service issues.

Access to Services in Leicestershire

Website Manager Richard Villiers Palethorpe comments “We saw the Access to Services interactive tool as means to bridging that gap between providing users with large amounts of raw data to wade through or producing a generic written report that may, or may not, answer all users’ questions. The interactive tool provides an interface which allows all users the opportunity to explore the data, specifically to their own needs and location”.

Learn how to use the Interactive Tool with this Video

InstantAtlas E-bulletin: November Edition

Welcome to the latest InstantAtlas News. In this month’s edition we focus on UK Local Government clients:-


  • 1.1 Client Spotlight Worcestershire County Council | Building Area Profiles for Elected Members
  • 1.2 Client Spotlight: Nottingham City Council | Tracking Neighbourhood Change in Nottingham
  • 1.3 Client Spotlight: West Midlands Regional Observatory | State of the Region Reporting
  • 1.4 Client Spotlight: North Yorkshire County Council | New interactive Neighbourhood Profiles


  • 2.1 New Local Observatory / LIS demonstration site
  • 2.2 New demos published to illustrate the capabilities of our templates
  • 2.3 Local Economic Monitor (LEM) – latest updates
  • 2.4 West Midlands Regional Observatory New Recession Monitoring Reports
  • 2.5 InstantAtlas demos by theme
  • 2.6 Staying in touch with InstantAtlas
  • 2.7 UK LIS Workshops Feb 2010 – dates for the diary
  • 2.8 UK LIS Data & Report Packs update – The Economic Assessment Duty Pack


  • 3.1 Area Profile Template version 6.3 – new features coming soon


1.1 Worcestershire County Council | Building Area Profiles for Elected Members

The Worcestershire County Council Research & Intelligence Unit are using InstantAtlas Server to deliver a corporate Local Information System (LIS).  As part of this work they have built a rich set of Ward Profile reports aimed at, amongst others, elected members.  They include sections on the relevant local councillor, population, crime, economy, health, children, and place survey results.  One-click links to these reports have been published as a simple list on their intranet site (not currently publicly available).

Click to see larger image

Innovative follow-up work is on-going to incorporate data from their central contact centre on the number and type of phone enquiries.  Postcode-tagged enquiries around issues like road maintenance problems, refuse collection and council tax are aggregated to neighbourhood and higher level geographies and then loaded into their LIS for reporting purposes.  Reports of “most frequently asked questions” can then be presented to councillors in the form of profiles and thematic maps via the council intranet.  This opens up all sorts of options, for example, to better understand neighbourhoods that appear to have high levels of enquiries regarding specific problem issues.  Users can visualise neighbourhoods of specific geo-demographic types that have high or low levels of enquiries and whether there are actions that can be taken to target interventions and provide smarter approaches to council communications.

David Onions, Acting Head of Research & Intelligence, comments: “Instant Atlas server is a very cost effective solution for presenting geographical data in an easily accessible format.  Worcestershire County Council is currently taking advantage of this to support our Elected Members in being even more informed about their local areas, by means of providing them with a profile of their electoral division and details of the services requests residents have made to our customer service centre.”

If you want to see the sort of profile reports (like the ones above) that can be developed and published with InstantAtlas Server try our Local information Systems demonstration application – use the clickable map of Nottingham Wards for instant access to reports.

1.2 Client Spotlight: Nottingham City Council | Tracking Neighbourhood Change in Nottingham

Nottingham City Council has recently started a project to understand how they can support a requirement to evaluate and monitor regeneration activities within the City. The main objective of this project is to develop a tool to deliver evidence of social, economic and environmental change over time in relation to investment, providing a holistic approach to regeneration and enabling the monitoring of outcomes at a local level. – To read more download the PDF case study

1.3 Client Spotlight: West Midlands Regional Observatory | State of the Region Reporting

West Midlands Regional Observatory has produced  a new set of InstantAtlas reports to support its State of the Region 2009 Project with the aim of assisting policy makers to explorer research with highly-interactive maps. The report brings together some of the key evidence from the State of the Region dialogues, a new process started in 2008, with a range of other information about the major issues facing the West Midlands. WMRO has linked the themes to wider developments influencing regional policy and strategy. Excel datasets of indicators and the data can be explored in interactive maps covering areas such as local economy, population & health, community & culture and environment & transport

More about this project »

1.4 Client Spotlight: North Yorkshire County Council | New interactive Neighbourhood Profiles

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) has recently launched an impressive set of interactive profiles for neighbourhoods across the County.  The statistics help paint a picture of the local area covering topics such as: (1) Population Age and ethnicity; (2) Health; (3) Crime; (4) Quality of life; (5) Environment; (6) Employment; (7) Education; and (8) the local economy.  The profiles will help NYCC and its partners when planning services to make sure they are taking local variation and local needs into consideration.


2.1 New Local Observatory demonstration site

The Support and Marketing teams have developed a new Local Information System / Local Observatory demonstration site based on off-the-shelf web design tools.  This embeds InstantAtlas Server (IAS) and demonstrates some of the new functionality in the 6.2 release for dynamic embedding of IAS content into other web pages.  Specifically the demo shows:

(1)    Embedding InstantAtlas Server 6.2  into a broader Local Observatory style site.

(2)    Embedding individual charts and tables (called ‘profile widgets’)  into other web pages and add relevant commentary.

(3)    Adding context-sensitive web links that can take users directly to dynamic Data Views and Profiles.

(4)    Using clickable maps as a simple and easy-to-use method for users to select area-based profile reports.

The pages are built as templates using a web design tool.  This demonstrates how a  Content Management System (CMS) tool can be implemented to allow non-technical staff to maintain content.

2.2 New demos published to illustrate the capabilities of version 6 templates

The InstantAtlas Template section of the InstantAtlas website has new demos by geographical area.  You can now view separate demos for both the UK and USA – Click Click here to see USA template examples | Click here to see UK template examples

2.3 UK Local Economic Monitor (LEM) – latest updates

Published – 11 November 2009

October 2009 unemployment figures added to the LEM
The October 2009 Jobseekers Allowance figures have been added to the Local Economic Monitor.
DWP Benefit datasets have been updated on the LEM
Data for a range of key DWP benefit datasets has been updated for Februrary 2009.
See the latest news on the Local Economic Monitor

2.4 West Midlands Regional Observatory – New recession impact monitoring reports

WMRO has produced a new set of InstantAtlas interactive maps to monitor the impact of the recession at different geographical levels in the West Midlands:

  • By West Midlands Local Authority
  • By West Midlands Census ward
  • Neighbourhoods in the Rural Regeneration Zone

The maps show Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimant rates (the proportion of the working age population claiming JSA), which gives an indication of unemployment.  The maps help to see how the recession is affecting different areas.

Vist the WMRO recent blog posting ‘Observations’ for more.

2.5 InstantAtlas demos by theme

The Marketing team have put together some interesting examples of InstantAtlas Reports by theme for you – there are more available on the InstantAtlas showcase.

(1) InstantAtlas for Community Information Systems (CIS)  – New York City Community Health, US (Demo) using the Single Map
Purpose: An atlas comprising a wide range of community health indicators based on the New York Community Health Survey with a 4-year time series. The atlas is based on our new InstantAtlas version 6 template.
How to use the Single Map Template (Video Link)

(2) InstantAtlas for Survey Reporting – Behavioral Risk Factor Data Explorer, MMSA Rankings, US (Demo) using the Single Map
This Single Map template provides a single map view of current BRFSS state for specific US Census Bureau Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas (MMSAs). The use of color-coded symbols make it easier to distinguish data values geographically.  How to use the Single Map Template (Video Link)

(3) InstantAtlas for Cancer Mapping and Reporting – West Virginia Incidence Rates and Trends / Major Cancer sites (Demo)
Purpose: This Single Map view presents West Virginia’s aggregated 1997-2001 and 2002-2006 incidence rates across the state and graphs trends between both time periods.

2.6 Choose how you ENGAGE with InstantAtlas

InstantAtlas customers are always looking for ways to keep in touch with news and features of the product and how it is being used around the world. So as well as providing the eBulletin service here is a compilation all the ways you can keep up with the latest news:

InstantAtlas RSS News Feed – for all our latest Blog posts click here to grab all the news | If you’re not sure how to use RSS – click here for an overview and list of feed tools

NEW – the InstantAtlas Email News Feed – If you prefer the latest Blog posts to come in via your email InBox then you can subscribe to ’email updates’ on the Blog.

Twitter – Join the growing InstantAtlas community – click here

Delicious – Bookmark – click here

Digg – InstantAtlas RSS Feed – click here

Flickr – View InstantAtlas reports on Flickr by Theme of interest – click here


YouTube – Watch Free InstantAtlas Video Tutorials for InstantAtlas Desktop and Server – click here and subscribe today

Metacafeclick here for channelclick here for video RSS feed

Vimeo Click here for channelclick here for video RSS feed

Daily Motionclick here for video RSS feedsubscribe to channel

Important Note | If you are unable to view Video channels from your place of work all videos are available on CD in MP4 format.  Currently CD’s are only available for UK organisations with a UK business address

2.7 UK InstantAtlas LIS Workshops in Feb 2010

For all our customers and anyone interested in developing Local Information Systems (LIS) please make a note of the best date for one of our events in February.  We are hoping to finalise the programme of both the ‘North’ and ‘South’ event soon and will publish them on the web site.  More information is available from the LIS Section of our web site.

2.8 UK LIS Data & Report Packs – New Economic Assessment Duty Pack

Our partners, OCSI, have been working on the development of data resources and outputs to create an Economic Assessment Duty Pack.  A number of local authority customers have expressed an interest in taking this to address their obligations for production of their Economic Assessment.  For more information see our Packs page on the LIS Section of our web site.


3.1 New Area Profile Template version 6.3 (coming soon)

There are a couple of significant enhancements to the new Area Profile template (version 6.3) planned for release at the end of December 2009.  It  includes new configuration files for a new Radar Chart profile and an Election Results Report.

  • The Radar Chart is a significant improvement on previous releases with the ability to display a significant number of select areas on the same chart with a legend for each area.  This ability makes it useful for comparing profiles of multiple areas.
  • With local and national elections coming up in the summer of 2010 in the UK, a new election results report configuration is designed to make it easier for customers to use our templates for the purposes of reporting their results at any geographic scale.

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