Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Using Tableau to Explore the Flora of Michigan

One of the first things I worked at UM on was using Tableau to dynamically explore the Flora of Michigan. The example shown below uses a connection to an MS Access database that has been complied by folks at the UM Herbarium. The database shown here represents transcribed records of accessions in the UM Herbarium that have contributed to our knowledge of the Flora of Michigan.

This video is a few months old now but I just wanted to see if I can embed video on the Google Blog platform. I have since transferred these interface to other views that would allow for direct access to the database to workers in the field. For example you could now use your mobile phone to report where you are, a javascript will convert this data to county locality and then show you the accessions that are in the flora for that county using a Tableau interface. That way while in the field you can know that yes, I should collect that stupid common oak because it would actually represent a county record for that species.

The university has recently purchased a site license to Tableau, and will be rolling out a public interface to Tableau early next year. Even more exiting is that I am currently a Beta tester for the v8.1 version of Tableau that allows for direct interaction with the R statistical programming language. This will allow for direct interaction with biodiversity analysis tools like Vegan to be directly available for analysis against live biodiversity databases.

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