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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.


GIS Day 2020

Virtual GIS Day Celebration at Blue Raster

On November 18th, we celebrated GIS Day 2020 by hosting GIS students from Washington-Liberty High School. For the ninth year, Blue Raster hosted the class led by teacher Ryan Miller, providing students with a greater understanding of the work GIS professionals do in the world today. Unlike previous years, this year was the first-ever virtual celebration.

GIS Day 2020

The Blue Raster team shared some of the most recent real-world GIS success stories through a round of lighting talk presentation on recent and ongoing projects. From a distance, we were able to connect through the power of GIS technologies such as Collector for ArcGIS and ArcGIS Dashboards designed for a tree foliage field activity.

GIS Day Stars

Additionally, this year we experienced the unique opportunity of hosting and being part of GIS Day with WJLA ABC7’s Outside the Classroom. Ryan Miller broadcast live from the Blue Raster Jungle and the Blue Raster team shared how we leverage on the power of storytelling using GIS data. The show was streamed live on both WJLA and Facebook. You can watch the Facebook recording here.

Read more about some of Blue Raster’s past GIS Day activities here.

GIS Day through the years
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Look Good, Feel Good: DHS Program Launches Re-Designed Website

DHS website header

Having access to global population and health data is critical to understanding and addressing public health issues. The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program collects and disseminates nationally representative and accurate data on population, health, and nutrition data across more than 90 countries.

This year, Blue Raster worked with The DHS Program to re-design and launch its website. The modernized look and simplified layout make it easier than ever for users to access what they need: country-specific data, powerful tools and resources, survey reports, and more.

The DHS Program's website is also mobile-friendly, meaning you can access it anytime and anywhere on your mobile device.

A new, clean look offers a feel-good navigation.


1. Explore by Country search

Search for your country of interest immediately after opening the website. Navigate to country-specific reports and statistics through this panel.

2. Featured Tool panel

DHS provides powerful tools to explore and download data. This panel gives you the chance to explore tools you may not have known about before.

DHS website

3. Tools & Resources panel

View and access the complete collection of tools and resources that help make the most use of country data. This handy panel displays all of the available items. Additionally, it allows you to sort by type in order to view featured items or sort by analysis and learning tools.

DHS website Tools

4. Publications panel

View the most recent publications or search based on a country, topic, or survey. The DHS Program is known worldwide for its rigorous collection, analysis, and publishing of their data through these reports.

DHS website blog post (1)

5. DHS Topics panel

Another way to access data and reports is through the DHS topics menu. Select topics like Malaria, Maternal Mortality, Gender, and much more.

DHS website blog post (4)


Sunita Kishor, Director of The DHS Program had this to say “ ….congratulations to our amazing website team for the public launch of the ‘new’ DHS website….Thank you for making us all so proud.”

Learn more about our work with The DHS Program and STATcompiler.

In addition to leveraging Esri technologies for web mapping solutions, Blue Raster leverages our in-house design team to enhance user experiences through design-driven solutions. Read about the design work we have done for ocean conservation.

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.

SubsidyExplorer Tool: Design for Decisions

The SubsidyExplorer Tool

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), nearly 60% of the world’s fish stocks are being exploited at unsustainable levels, posing a risk for future stock collapses. This would harm food security, marine ecosystems, and fishing economies across the world. Much of these practices are enabled by harmful fisheries subsidies that incentivize fisheries to prioritize profits over sustainable measures.

About Fisheries Subsidies

Fisheries subsidies can be beneficial and aimed towards activities like sustainable management, research on fish populations, and helping fishers survive a lean season. However, other fisheries subsidies can be potentially harmful, because they may contribute to the overexploitation of fish stocks. These subsidies, paid to help offset the costs of vessel fuel, upgrades, renovations, and other expenses, enable fleets to fish farther from shore and longer than they otherwise would.

Pew SubsidyExplorer for fisheries subsidies
Comparative charting and mapping provide key insights into global and regional fishing subsidy trends.

In response to these issues, Pew Charitable Trusts, with help from the Environmental Market Solutions Lab (emLab), developed the SubsidyExplorer tool. This powerful application lets policymakers and leaders simulate legislative goals and feasibility for fishing policy reform. In collaboration with Pew, Blue Raster assisted in the design of the tool’s interface and workflow to create a web application tool that is easier to understand, navigate, and execute.

Pew SubsidyExplorer Tool
The Tool gives users concise yet informative information in each of the sections.

About the Tool

The tool allows users to explore subsidy reform scenarios with pre-populated policy proposals or custom-made proposals. Clear and concise queues guide the user through a step-by-step workflow to select factors and parameters for their desired legislative goals and outcomes. Side panels also display workflow progress, remaining steps, and chosen parameters in the workflow. Additionally, the SubsidyExplorer tool generates comparative charting mapping visuals to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of their specified policy reform scenarios, which they can print and share with others.

The SubsidyExplorer tool is the latest example of how Blue Raster leverages design to improve web application effectiveness and enhance user experiences. As a result, Pew can provide a powerful tool for policymakers and decisionmakers around the globe to plan, propose, and enact urgent ocean policy issues. Now that’s a big catch!

Track Industrial Spaces in the Mekong Region with the Updated Mekong Infrastructure Tracker

The Mekong Policy Project aims to address the regional environmental and social impacts along the Mekong River to improve food security, stability and cross-country relations.

Launched earlier this year, The Stimson Center's Mekong Infrastructure Tracker offers unprecedented transparency into the financing and development of roads, rails, waterways, and power generation projects in the Mekong region. Funded by USAID and supported by The Asia Foundation, the tool allows users to search and filter for projects by type, operational status, funders, and more.

Mekong Infrastructure Tracker Updates

Now, with the latest release, the Tracker includes data on Industrial Spaces. In addition to major transportation hubs, such as railway stations, airports, and seaports, these include special economic zones, cross border economic zones, and industrial zones. These areas, with special tax treatment and other regulations, are key centers of economic activity and international investment.

mekong infrastructure tracker Industrial Spaces

"The Tracker's new industrial spaces dataset provides for the first time a visualization of 700+ completed and planned industrial zones, special economic zones, airports, train stations, and seaports in the Mekong region. We think the private sector, government stakeholders, and NGOs will find particular interest in viewing this data. When viewing the data on the Project Impact Screener, the connectivity of the region really come forward because these industrial spaces can be framed together with a comprehensive set of transportation routes and power generation assets."  -  Brian Eyler, Senior Fellow and Director at The Stimson Center

mekong infrastructure tracker Stimson Industrial Spaces 1

Leveraging ArcGIS Online and the ESRI JavaScript API, The Mekong Infrastructure Tracker builds on existing data to present a comprehensive source of information on energy, transportation, and water infrastructure in the Mekong countries. Additionally, there is an ArcGIS Survey123 link that allows users to submit more project data or provide updates to existing data.

The Mekong Infrastructure Tracker platform is the premier resource for researchers to track, monitor, and quantify the development of energy, transportation, and water infrastructure assets and the social, economic, and ecological changes they bring to South East Asia.

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