Responding to COVID-19 through our partnership with Esri – Get Live Maps, Data and Resources

Our Work

Blue Raster helps you tell your story through interactive
mapping technology. Make your message clear, exciting,
and user-friendly for both mobile and web platforms.

Power BI

Build Your First Power BI Report Using the Inbuilt Sample Data

Power BI enables anyone to connect to data and turn it into insights. It was built with the “citizen developer” in mind, meaning that users don’t need to have previous BI experience or know any complicated code. Making the shift from Excel to Power BI to display meaningful and actionable data is more simple than you might expect. Get started with your first Power BI report today!

Build Your Own Report

If you’re ready to get started, I recommend that you take a look at our October webinar, where we walk you through building your first report. You can access the source files here to follow along step-by-step, and if you get lost or want to see how we’ve done something, you can take a look at the sample Power BI desktop file.

Just this month, the Power BI team has made it easier for us to get started with the tool! In this post, I will walk you through how to build your first Power BI report using the sample data that comes included in the Power BI desktop tool! You can read Microsoft’s full update blog that includes other new features here.

1. Open Power BI Desktop (must be the October 2020 version*)

If you are wondering what version of Power BI you are working with, simply click on the Help tab of the ribbon and select About. You’ll get a popup that shows you what version you are working on.

Another easy way to tell is that the October version looks very different from previous versions, in that what you see on the screen is not just a blank canvas! You should see some nice new guidance text and images to help you get started!

Power BI version
October version

2. Select Try a sample dataset and Load data from the popup window

Sample data

From here you will get a popup window that shows you the contents of the sample data file. This Excel file has one sheet (Sheet 1) containing one table (financials).

3. Select financials by checking the box next to the content, which will show you a preview of the data


Click on Load to add the data in the financials table to the Power BI data model.

Note that once you become more comfortable with Power BI, you will want to select the Transform Data button, which will open up the Power Query editor and allow you to make transformations to the data. Today, we’re going to work with the data as it appears in the source.

4. Select a field from the fields pane to add data to your canvas. You must ensure that a tick mark appears next to the field.

Power BI screen

After you have added a field, you can use the Visualizations pane to change the type of visualization you want to display.

You are now on your way to building Power BI reports. With just a few clicks of a button you can present data to decision makers!

Power BI report vizualization

For more information on how to use Power BI, browse our curated list of Power BI resources.

Ready to find out more?

Contact us today for a free consultation!

*Power BI Desktop is updated with new features monthly. If you are using Power BI Desktop that you downloaded from the Microsoft Store, your tool will automatically update. Read this helpful blog post for more information.

Power BI Resource Guide

Power BI Resources

Power BI is a comprehensive, self-service business intelligence platform.

Built for the citizen developer, anyone can develop Microsoft Power BI reports without being an expert in development and code. There is a robust community surrounding the Microsoft product with a number of comprehensive training opportunities to address the needs of users. Welcome to the community!

Power BI Resource
There are several introductory trainings that are essential to understanding Power BI.

Below are some of our favorite Power BI Resources.

Introduction to Data Modeling for Power BI

This is an introductory course about data modeling, which is a required skill to get the best out of Power BI, Power Pivot for Excel, and Analysis Services. It is aimed at users that do not have a background knowledge in data modeling for analytical systems and reporting.

Introducing DAX

DAX is the native language of Power BI, Power Pivot for Excel, and SSAS Tabular models in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services. The training is aimed at users of Power BI, Power Pivot for Excel, and at Analysis Services developers that want to move the first steps with DAX. The goal is to teach the DAX language using Power BI for all the examples.

Microsoft Power BI Guided Learning

The Microsoft guided learning is excellent and contains videos, text, and sample files to work with. If you are new to Power BI, start here. There are 6 modules in the “Getting Started with Power BI” learning path. Each module takes around 60 minutes


Esri ArcGIS Maps for Power BI Documentation

The Esri documentation contains a clear, self-guided tutorial that walks developers through everything from data preparation to navigating the map you just built. The documentation will take about 60 minutes to work through.

Topic-Specific Videos

Microsoft Power BI

The Microsoft Power BI YouTube channel has excellent high-quality videos on specific Power BI topics for all levels, from beginning to advanced. The “Getting Started with Power BI” playlist is the recommended place to start for new users

Guy in a Cube

Two Power BI employees have built a vast library of Power BI resources on their YouTube channel. This list has topic-specific videos ranging from a couple of minutes to twenty minutes. The way they deliver material is entertaining and easy to understand.  


This YouTube channel posts videos three times weekly on Power Query, Power BI, and DAX. This site is also fairly topic-specific, so it is helpful if users know what they are looking for when navigating through the site. The New to Power BI playlist is a recommended place to start. 


This YouTube channel takes a slightly different approach to Power BI and really focuses on the ins and outs of Power Query (M) and Power BI (DAX).  This organization also has an easily searchable blog/site that is both easy to read and use. 

Contact Our Power BI Professionals to Get Started Today!

Circle headshots (4)

Shannon Lindsay

Ms. Lindsay is a Microsoft Certified data and analytics professional serves as Blue Raster’s Power BI Lead.

Circle headshots (2)

Phil Satlof

Mr. Satlof manages IT projects and all aspects of web application and GIS development at Blue Raster.

Learn more about Blue Raster's Power BI work via our blog posts, Power BI and ArcGIS Maps for Power BI pages.

Join our mailing list below and receive a downloadable copy of the Power BI resource guide.

Enhanced Visualization of DHIS2 Data

What is DHIS2?

DHIS2the District Health Information Software, is an open-source platform for data collection, analysis and reporting of healthy system data. Ministries of Health in over 60 countries use DHIS2 to monitor both aggregate and patient-level data. Blue Raster has had the opportunity to create enhanced visualizations of data collected and stored in DHIS2 using Power BI and ArcGIS Online.

What is enhanced visualization?

While the DHIS2 platform has inbuilt data visualization capabilities, Blue Raster found opportunities to optimize the presentation of data for decision making in the form of interactive dashboards using Power BI and geospatial analysis using ArcGIS Online. We determined that Power BI and ArcGIS Online were the right tools for the job, and we created an automated workflow to extract data directly from DHIS2 for processing and display in other tools.  

We put this workflow to use in our work on the TRACE project in Lesotho. These visualizations are helping to guide decision makers and contribute to the global fight to reach HIV epidemic control.

DHIS2 visualization

Why use those additional technologies?

Using Power BI and ArcGIS Online adds analytic value and the opportunity to customize the look and feel of DHIS2 visualizations.  

Advantages of Power BI: 

  • Additional data processing/cleaning prior to visualization 
  • Cross-filter and cross-highlight between different visualizations 
  • Drill up and down in geographic hierarchies 
  • Copy and paste specific visuals and export data from visuals 

Advantages of ArcGIS Online: 

  • Explore connections between data using customizable interactive maps 
  • Develop professional-looking web applications to visualize data using out of the box configurable tools 
  • Perform statistical and geospatial analysis using your data sets and sources from ESRI’s Living Atlas (library of curated datasets) 

How can I get started with my DHIS2 data?

Blue Raster can help you take full advantage of your DHIS2 data. Our expertise in human-centered design coupled with our technical expertise in Power BI and Esri's ArcGIS tools can help you make the best decisions at the right time using your data. Contact us today to get started.  

Data Visualization Training

Data visualization provides a powerful way to communicate data-driven findings, motivate analyses, and aid in decision-making. As organizations further prioritize the need to develop data-driven solutions into workspaces, it becomes important to develop skills and workflows through professional development. International Business and Technical Consultants Inc. (IBTCI), an international development consulting company, needed a program to deliver data visualization training to some of its Monitoring & Evaluation professionals around the world. Using our industry expertise, Blue Raster developed a comprehensive, live virtual data visualization training package to meet the needs of IBTCI.

The IBTCI Monitoring and Evaluation professionals each averaged 10+ years working with data in the fields of global health, education, land management, and other international development fields. Conducted via Microsoft Teams video conferencing, Blue Raster prioritized collaboration and inquiry, which built a gregarious and interactive training for the 20 participants located throughout Kenya, Malawi, and the United States.

Data Vizualization Training
Particpants from Kenya, Malawi, and the US created a virtual community

Data Visualization Training Program

Broken into three 2-hour sessions, we developed a structured and comprehensive approach to virtual data visualization training. Blue Raster Power BI Developer Shannon Lindsay guided participants through discussions and demonstrations on how to visually optimize data for storytelling and decision making.

Session 1

In the first session, participants reviewed and discussed the building blocks of high-impact data visualization. How do you visualize and analyze data so you can extract insights and actionable information? Shannon introduced examples of catering data visualizations to your audience, how to best use your visuals, and developing dashboards.

Session 2

The second session focused on integrating dashboards with Microsoft Excel and Power BI. Power BI allows users to develop a single hub that tracks and manages assets for an organization or project. Additionally, the participants discussed integrating multiple datasets from different sources in order to make captivating and detailed dashboards.

Session 3

The third session provided a chance for the participants to make their own dashboards in Power BI or another program of their choice. Each participant shared their work and received feedback and tips. Additionally, the class discussed using some basic location data in both Microsoft Excel and Power BI.

By the end of the training, participants learned to improve upon their current data visualizations and to consider other applications like Power BI for future projects.  Positive feedback from participants concluded that the data visualization training provided necessary and useful skills in data design and visualization techniques for future projects.

As organizations further prioritize the need to develop data-driven solutions into workspaces, it becomes important to develop skills and workflows towards becoming a data-driven organization through professional development programs. Blue Raster can assist organizations by developing customized fully interactive virtual trainings to build solutions and further the goals of your organization.

Ready to find out more?

Learn more about our training capabilities!

Getting Started with Power BI

Implementing a new platform can be challenging and multi-faceted, and Blue Raster’s experience has helped us pinpoint keys to success in the development, deployment, and maintenance of tailored Power BI solutions. We’ll help you focus on the process and the people needed to implement a new platform (change is hard!), and we’ve got the technical chops and training skills to ensure that this becomes a sustainable, self-service solution. We want to help you get started with Power BI today!

Blue Raster can help you get started with Power BI

3 Steps for Getting Started

1) Think about what you are trying to solve:

  • Are your business processes creating bottlenecks? Do you see areas with room for improvement in terms of efficiency?
  • How are you measuring the relative success/failure of business processes?
  • Are there areas of your business you would like to track more closely?
  • Do you need up-to-date data at your fingertips about a process/product/topic area?

2) Think about your data:

  • That’s a big ask – but think about the questions you want to answer and then try to think about whether you have existing data that can answer those questions.
  • Now think about where the data resides and in what format –
  • Is your data in Excel? SharePoint? SQL server? MySQL? DHIS2?

3) Put it all together.

  • Does the data you identified in step 2 answer any of the problems/questions identified in step 1? If you do not have the data to answer your questions, are you able to start collecting it?

Business intelligence is about the generation of actionable insights – and having a clear understanding of the problems you are facing and the data you have to help you solve those problems will help you on your way! 

Power BI System Diagram

What can Blue Raster do for you?

The Blue Raster team will help you think through the questions above (which are harder than they may appear) and will guide you through our tested deployment process. Regardless of which deployment type and strategy your organization takes on, the process remains the same. Note that the process documented below is intended to help organizations get started with Power BI, but that BI implementation is not linear. The process of feedback and learning is continuous, and any report developer will tell you that reports are never done!

Working on Power BI
Power BI process
1. Requirements Gathering

Prior to the implementation of Power BI, Blue Raster will guide your team through key questions that will help inform deployment, architecture, and licensing decisions. 

Key questions to ask when planning your deployment: 

  • Where is source data stored? 
  • Who are your report developers, end-users/consumers, and system admins? 
  • How do end-users want to consume this data? 
  • How frequently will data be updated (in the source)? 
  • What is the existing IT infrastructure? 
  • Are there security standards requiring data to remain on premises? 
  • What is the complexity of the solution? (model size/complexity, query complexity, row level security needs) 
2. Determine Architecture and Licensing
3. Training
4. Establish Content Organization and Governance Strategy
5. Set Adoption Targets
6. Build and Deploy

Contact us today to get started with Power BI! 

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Page 1 of 2