Dashboard Week: Day IV - California Wildfires

by Lukas Jennings

It's the penultimate day of dashboard week and today head coach Andy assigned us the task of visualising a data set about California wildfires. Here is a walkthrough of my approach to taking on today's challenge...

My Approach

Today's data set required a serious amount of data preparation. For this reason, each member of DS21 was assigned a 'buddy' from elsewhere in the company to assist with the data prep process.

Firstly, we inspected the web page where the data was stored and extracted the data in JSON format using an API URL. We then built a workflow to help parse out the relevant information, as well as crosstabing to ensure our data was in the appropriate format to be utilised in Tableau. Our workflow can be see below:

My Dashboard

I've really been admiring the rest of DS21's long style format of dashboard over the last few days so I figured I'd attempt my own today!

In terms of insights, I planned on creating a drill down style dashboard which begins with a high level overview of the data before narrowing in some more detailed specifics within the dataset.

The top chart is simply a time series showing the number of wildfires in California since 2010. It is clear from this chart that wildfire frequency is on the rise, with a particularly large spike in 2017.

I wanted to explore 2017 a bit further, so the next part of the dashboard looks to explore the worst affected counties in California, throughout the year of 2017. It became clear that Riverside county had been hit particularly hard during this year, as demonstrated by the bar chart and map.

So when drilling down further into Riverside county, I decided to bring in some supplementary data to find out why this county had experienced so many wildfires throughout this year. The additional data showing temperature, rainfall and vegetation type answered this crucial why question.  

The period shown by the reference bands in both charts indicated a shortage of rainfall in the years leading up to 2017, as well as a spike in temperature. This, combined with the plethora of shrub and scrubland in riverside provides the ideal conditions for wildfires to thrive.

A link to the dashboard on Tableau public can be found here...


Lukas Jennings

Wed 25 Nov 2020

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Mon 23 Nov 2020