Missing Migrants: The Mediterranean Sea

By: Austen Chiu

Geovis Project Assignment @RyersonGeo, SA8905, Fall 2019


The dangerous journey of migrants seeking a better life has existed as long as countries have experienced political unrest. Advancements in technology have brought greater visibility to migrant groups than ever before. However, those who failed to make the journey often go unseen. Due to the undocumented nature of migrant paths, accurate numbers of survivors and deaths is difficult to track.

The data used in this project were obtained from the Missing Migrants Project. A dashboard was created in Tableau desktop to visualize the locations of missing migrant reports across the Mediterranean Sea, and to improve awareness of the scale at which the migrant crisis is occurring.

Creating an Animated Time Series Map

Following the prompts in Tableau, import your data. The data imported from an excel file should appear like this.

Make sure the data contains a date column, and spatial coordinates. Tableau can read spatial coordinates such as latitude and longitude, or northing and easting, to create maps. You can designate a column to be read as a date, or assign its geographic role as a latitude or longitude, to draw a map.

The icon above the column reveals options for which you want to format the data.
Geographic roles can be assigned to your data, allowing Tableau to read them as a map.
Creating a new map can be done by clicking the new tab buttons at the bottom of your window.
This is a blank graph. You can create graphs by dragging data into the “columns” and “rows” fields.

Tableau will automatically generate a map if data assigned with geographic roles are used to populate the “Columns” and “Rows” fields. If the “Pages” field in the top right corner is populated with the date data, a time slider module will appear below the “Marks” module. The “Pages” field facilitates Tableau’s animation capabilities.

The “Filters” field has applied a filter to the data, so only cases that occur in the Mediterranean region are visualized in the map.

The “Pages” field in the top left has been populated by the date data and a time slider has appeared in the bottom left.
The time slider allows you to select a specific date to view. The right arrow below the slider starts the animation, and Tableau will run through each snapshot of time, much like a slideshow.

Tableau can produce many types of data visualizations to accompany the animated map. A histogram, live counter, and packed bubbles visuals accompany the map on my dashboard.

The final product of the dashboard I created has been shared to Tableau Online. However, Tableau online does not support the animation features. A gif of the animated dashboard in Tableau Desktop has been shared through google drive, and can be viewed here.