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UK Area Polygon Mapping in Tableau

UK Filled MapEver since Tableau introduced filled maps in version 7 we’ve repeatedly been asked about filled maps in the UK and why it’s limited to just England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Our understanding is there are two main reasons. First is installation size and keeping Tableau as lean as possible. I don’t know if you’ve notices but for such a small country the UK is split into many different areas. Even if you just take the first one or two letters of the postcode as a grouping method there are 124 different shapes covering the country! That compares to only 50 states to cover the whole of the United States of America and from a country that would only rank as the 12th largest state in America.

The second reason comes down to complexity. Tableau try to maintain simplicity throughout the product, the first question asked when a new function is developed is “Is it as simple as it can be?” I can imagine the poor developers working on filled maps thinking “OK we’ve covered most of the globe using the hierarchy Country – State – County – City but the UK, that doesn’t seem to fit.” If we take a look at how the hierarchy applies to the UK then it would align something like:

Level Current Example Potential Options
Country United Kingdom
  • United Kingdom
  • England, Scotland, etc
State England
  • Regions
  • Counties
  • Counties
  • Unitary Authorities
  • Local Authority Districts
  • Metropolitan Counties
  • Boroughs

You can see how the alignment can become very confusing very quickly. This isn’t to say that Tableau won’t solve it some day, after all they have developers many times smarter than myself working for them.

How The Information Lab Can Help

Like many other challenges in Tableau there is always a way to achieve the visualisation you’re looking for. All you need is a method and some data. For the method we have a video taking you step by step through the process (see the bottom of this post) and as for the data we’ve done as much of the hard work as we can so you don’t have to. If you don’t see the UK boundary data you’d like then please get in contact and we’ll help you out as best as we can.

UK Boundary Polygon Data

Area TDE v7 TDE v8
Regions Download Download
Counties (partial coverage) Download Download
Local Authority Districts Download Download
Counties, Unitary Authorities, and Local Authority Districts Download Download
Counties, Unitary Authorities, and Metropolitan Counties Download Download
Strategic Health Authorities Download Download
Clinical Commissioning Groups Download Download

Creating Polygon Area Maps in Tableau

Craig Bloodworth

York, UK

23 thoughts on “UK Area Polygon Mapping in Tableau

  1. Hi guys
    This looks very useful and could be extended for us here in Switzerland. What would be really useful is to know the process that you went through to build this so we could extend it for use here!


  2. Thanks this is helpful, would be really interested if anyone has be able to plot points over shaded polygons in the UK? Without using a static background image.

  3. Nice to see some thematic maps in tableau – although there is a slight glitch. If you apply a filter and the reference polygon has no data then that area is simply removed from the map – leaving gaps. Is there anyway of layering another CCG boundary on top?

  4. Awesome! Is there any plan/another article where this has been repeated for UK postcode boundaries? (just the outcodes – e.g., AB11 etc.) Or is that just way too much work?

    1. Tim,

      Check out tableaumapping.bi for more boundary data, but I *think* postcode boundary data is not in the public domain, you have to purchase it…

  5. I am a newbe. Anyone can detail what you do with tde format? When I upload it, it opens automatically in Notepad and it is all that I have.
    How you take advantage from that?

  6. Hi

    The dataset appears to include only English and Welsh counties. Is it possible to have Scotland and N. Ireland included (or am I missing something)?


  7. Hi Guys,

    I followed your great tutorial on UK polygon mapping.

    I was wondering if its possible to have the polygon shaded in different colours depending on the measure chosen in the parameter field?


  8. Hi, this is very useful but the boundaries are now out of date for Northern Ireland following a reorganisation there last year reducing the number of authorities from 26 to 11. Can this extract be updated to reflect that please?

  9. HI There,

    Thank you for your post. It’s very helpful.
    Wondering if you have examples of London – LSOA level geo-mapping?


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