Agricultural Dust Explosions - 1980 to 2005

Week 14 Viz

Posted by David Velleca on June 10, 2018

Data Storytelling and Dataviz Approach

This dataset was well suited for showing the explosions both over time and geographically. The first viz I created was the map. This is where I ran into some issues. The data for this dataset was scraped from 26 different PDF files, and had some problems. These PDFs were scans of early computer documents, and were not afforded the luxury of spell check, or the internet to check placenames. There were 33 cities that Tableau did not recognize. Pair this with incorrect states tied to some of these cities and Tableau doesn't know how to handle the locations even if you edit the cities.

I made the decision to filter these records out of the map, instead of editing the dataset.

With the map out of the way, I created a few other vizzes: one that shows the number of explosions by facility type; a set of BANs that summarized the number of explosions, injuries and deaths; and finally these metrics over time. Clicking on the bars on the 'by facility type' viz filters all of the other vizzes. Pretty quick build and straightforward visualizations. I probably spent more time trying to map cities to something that Tableau would recognize (and chasing data issues) than building the dashboard.

Data Source

The dataset this week was sourced from the Kansas State University Research Exchange. Please be sure to cite the source on your viz.

The photo on this page is of the Continental Grain Elevator Explosion in 1977 in New Orleans. The photo is by Bill Haber, in The Times-Picayune archive.