Why a map is better than an Excel spreadsheet
When I think of eSpatial – perhaps because of my GIS training – I tend to see it in completely geographical and visual terms, often taking for granted the obvious advantage of a map: speedy access to complicated, detailed information.
Recently, I dealt with a client who showed me how to use our software in a completely non-geographical way – and it solved their problem brilliantly. It also perfectly reminded me why a map is better than an Excel spreadsheet.
The client in question was the headmaster of a secondary school in the UK.
Unifying various stands
They wanted a means of unifying various strands of student data – basically putting bits of information about each individual all in the one place where it could be quickly retrieved. A map was the ideal solution.
His data contained key facts about students: whether they were on free school meals, whether they had any special educational needs, behavioral data around detentions and attendance, disability, gender, ethnic group, first language.
The first task was to standardize this data into a format compatible with eSpatial, as the data came from numerous sources. That was easy – they just saved it as a normal Excel document and uploaded it.
Using eSpatial, the school could easily isolate sections of students i.e. map a view of students that are on free school meals only or map a view of kids that are down as having special educational needs but that are also only male etc. This was easily achievable using on-the-fly filters (see the blog here on eSpatial filtering).
The headmaster now had access to information that they could not have possibly got from just an Excel spreadsheet.
Although it won’t be used on a daily basis, eSpatial has proved invaluable in helping make decisions around such things as attendance policies and for reporting.