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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.


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.

GIS-based Mapping in America’s First Garden Cemetery

In the United States, garden cemeteries as we know them today emerged out of the growing need to separate burial grounds from city life. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts (approx. 4 miles from Boston), and founded in 1831, Mount Auburn Cemetery became the first of these “rural cemeteries”.  It serves as both a burial ground and a horticultural display garden spanning 175-acres, making it the nation’s first garden cemetery.

Mount Auburn Garden Cemetery

Improving Garden Cemetery Workflows

Like many other public gardens that host large amounts of plant collections, Mount Auburn relies on a sophisticated botanical garden database application called BG-BASE. When it comes to GIS-based mapping, plant information stored in BG-BASE cannot be easily fed into web-based maps.

Blue Raster collaborated with Mount Auburn, The Alliance for Public Gardens GIS (APGG), and BG-BASE to develop an automated link from BG-BASE to Esri software. This process involved moving plant record data to a SQL Server Enterprise Geodatabase loaded with the Alliance for Public Gardens GIS data-model. Existing plant records, attribute or location updates, and new additions can be pushed from BG-BASE to Esri database. As a result, plant information displays in GIS-based mapping applications and is accessible for internal horticulture and facility management teams.

This brings Mount Auburn Cemetery to the forefront of the public garden community with its continued moderization of horticulture management via GIS.

Flora Mount Auburn Application

In addition to automating internal workflows, Blue Raster developed Mount Auburn’s first interactive web mapping application, Flora Mount Auburn. The app showcases plant collections, staff-curated tours, and amenities across the cemetery. Showcased on a custom-made basemap, users can virtually navigate the grounds while exploring and interacting with the surrounding flora.

We leveraged ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcGIS Portal and the ArcGIS JavaScript API.

The Explore feature allows you to take thematic tours that expose the user to a variety of plants and landscapes across the 175 acres. Tour themes cover topics like environmental stewardship and sustainability, African American heritage, and famous botanists and horticulturalists at Mount Auburn. In the app, the tour walking distance, time, and total points of interest are displayed before starting. When the tour begins, the app navigates along the delineated tour path of the curated tour.

In addition to tours, the map offers visitors a 360-degree experience to view plants or monuments. Using Cemetery360 technology, Flora Mount Auburn allows users to drop a pin and immerse themselves in the area of interest, outdoors and indoors!

Mount Auburn Flora Garden Cemetery
Mount Auburn Flora image

The Search Plants feature allows you to look-up plants in the garden cemetery and see where they are located across the grounds. Plants can be searched by their Common, Scientific or Family Name, Habit, Garden Location, or unique Accession and Qualifier. A plant Search List is generated as you look for plants, which can be exported to a table with details of every plant that exists in the searched plant collection.

Whether you’re a botanist or a novice plant enthusiast, the app makes it easy to search, locate, and learn more about your plants of interest.

Blue Raster's Garden Experience

Blue Raster is experienced with plant data and workflows in gardens and cemeteries. We leverage Esri Field GIS applications for plant and monument maintenance workflows, drones for high resolution imagery, mobile applications for visitors, and continually stay up to date with the American Public Gardens Association.

Blue Raster continues to serve public gardens in their mission to be inclusive for all and indispensable to the community. Learn more about how gardens are modernizing their operations by combining their horticulture management with GIS:

Ready to find out more?

Get in touch with us today!

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.

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