The first day of our dashboard week was all about UFO sightings from the National UFO Reporting Center Online Database. The task involved Web Scraping all of the UFO sightings from the webpage and then making a dashboard of our results. Here’s how I got on!

Step 1 – Web Scraping

The first step was to get all of the information from the website. This involved understanding the structure of the page, and what hyperlinks joined up each of the pages. After exploring the HTML code for a little bit, I realised that this was a fairly nice structured web page, with a nice table structure. So into Alteryx I went…

Here’s a picture of my flow:

Alteryx Workflow

As you can see there was a lot of RegEx involved with breaking down each of the items one by one. My first solution (the top branch) would have involved my downloading a lot of information for each ‘sighting’ and we estimated that this could take a few hours, therefore I restructured my flow, and focussed just on the ‘Summary’ section of for each sighting. As a result, I had a nicely structured data source, so it was time to take this into Tableau.

Step 2 – Tableau Dashboard

When I discovered the data in Tableau, I quickly realised that some sightings dated back to the 1500’s and also across the whole world. Therefore, I decided to limit my dashboard to just the last 100 years and just within the USA, as each of the states was available.

So that was the ‘where’ taken care of, now time to focus on the ‘when’. Now, I’m a big fan of a heat map, so I couldn’t resist including one here to allow me to have a breakdown of the sightings by day and month. I also included a line graph to help identify any years that had a spike. Interestingly, in 2014 there was a spike, and this is the year that both Interstella and Guardians of the Galaxy was released… coincidence? I think not!  

Here is my final design:

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