Socrata 101: Creating a Visualization


Socrata enables users to create visualizations quickly and easily. Socrata is web-based and allows users access to data in which they can display in a variety of ways. Socrata, for the most part, has a very simple user-interface. Visualizations are not complex to create, but can be limited as to how the information is displayed. This story will provide a quick and simple walk-through to illustrate how to create a visualization using Socrata.

Before you Begin

Creating a visualization allows users to share information with others. It is important to understand what information is to be shared and how it is to be shared. There are many different visualizations to choose from and while most can be used to display information, some are better than others depending upon the data. Keep your user in mind when creating a visualization or a dataset.
Some things to keep in mind:
  • Who are your intended users?
  • What information do you want to share?
  • What is the best visualization to use to get your message across?
  • Does the visualization add value to your data?

User Details

Most of the information regarding the user can be found when clicking on the user name. This will open a menu for options that will be crucial for adding datasets, and creating visualizations or stories.


For this example "Crash" data is going to be used to create a quick and simple visualization. There is an area to search for key words at the top of the data catalog. This is useful to find specific datasets or past visualizations. Searching can also be done, or limited by, categories, view types and tags. In this example, "crash" is searched and limited to datasets.

Dataset Information

Choosing a dataset allows the user to see basic information about the dataset. When it was last updated, column structure, a table preview, as well as any other visualizations linked to the dataset. From this page a user can also view the data to visualize, or download the data for analysis in another program.

Data Identified

Once the data is identified, the user can utilize Socrata's options to edit, export, or visualize data. Most users will typically visualize data, or export it for further analysis.

Choosing a Method to Visualize

Socrata has individual visualizations to choose from, or a user can use Socrata's Visualization Preview. Socrata's Visualization Preview is the simplest method for a user with very little experience with data visualizations. Choosing individual visualizations allows the user more control, but more experience is needed.

Visualization Preview Method

If using the Visualization Preview, the use can get a quick glance of the data and begin the visualization process.

Choosing the Content and Method to Visualize

Socrata's Visualization Preview allows users to explore visualizations quickly and easily. Once a column is chosen to visualize, there are a few different options for the type of visualization for the user to display the information. A user can choose bar graphs, time lines, histograms, etc...

Simple Bar Graph

To examine the "Crash" data, one basic question users may have is which county has the most collisions. Keeping it simple, a bar graph can be created illustrating which counties have the most collisions, of course this does not take into account the number of people in the given county, or number of people on the roads at any given time, but it does provide an estimate.

Visualization Options

Visualizations can be modified to fit a user's needs. The type of visualization can be changed, so that a user can see how the information will be displayed. The colors, axis titles, scales, number of columns can all be adjusted with these options. Data can also be grouped, for instance a user may want to see collisions with fatalities compared with collisions with no fatalities in each county. This can be done by Grouping Dimension Values.

Final Visualization Preview

This is the final screen in which changes can be made. For instance if the title of the visualization is not appropriate, this can be changed in the "Menu". If the visualization is correct and sufficient for the user, it can then be saved.

Visualization Complete

This is the menu option which allows the user to add a title and description to the visualization. The more complete the description is, the more likely it will be used by others. If a different user cannot understand what a visualization is displaying, chances are it will not be used. Be as descriptive as necessary. Don't forget to save.