Dot-Density Maps In R

Paul Campbell shows how to build a dot density map in R:

To get me started I invested in the expert guidance of data-visualiser-extraordinaire Nathan Yau, aka Flowing Data. Nathan has a whole host of tutorials on how to make really great visualisations in R (including a brand new course focused on mapping) and thankfully one of them deals with how to plot dot density using base R.

Now with a better understanding of the task at hand, I needed to find the required ethnicity data and shapefiles. I recently saw a video of Amelia McNamara’s great talk at the OpenVis Conference titled ‘How spatial polygons shape our world’. The .shp file really is a glorious thing and it seems that the spatial polygon makers are the unsung heros of the datavis world, so a big round of applause for all those guys is in order.

Anyway, I digress. Luckily for me, the good folks over at the London DataStore have a vast array of Shapefiles that go from Borough level all the way down to Super Output Area level. I’m going to use the Output Areas as the boundaries for the dots and the much broader Borough boundaries for ploting area labels and borders.

The ethnic group data itself was sourced from the Nomis website which has a handy 2011 Census table finder tool where you can easily download an Ethnic Group csv file for London output areas. Vamonos.

I’m going to give this a second reading; it’s a great example of how to go from functional to beautiful.  H/T David Smith

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