Unleashing the power of Geospatial Analysis in SAP BusinessObjects
With the growing amount of data and the increasing amount of possibilites to collect and store data, the geographical context has never been more important.
Business Intelligence heavily depends on easy-to-understand visualizations and meaningful insights. One way to produce them is achieved by utilizing Geospatial Analysis.
This blog will cover the fundamentals of Geospatial Analysis, its value for your business and how SAP supports you in the task of visualizing geographical data.
Table of Contents
- Introduction and structure of this blog
- What is Geospatial Analysis?
- Who are our partners and what’s in it for you?
- Geospatial capabilities in SAP BusinessObjects
- Conclusion and future outlook
- Further readings
As described in the preface, this blog will mainly cover the idea behind Geospatial analysis and how it will improve your BI experience with SAP solutions.
In the beginning, we will do a short wrap up on the concept of Geospatial analysis. If you feel confident about the topic, you can skip this chapter.
The third chapter describes our partnership with HERE (formerly NAVTEQ) and Esri and how you can benefit from it. Afterwards, this blog will describe in detail how our products SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 and SAP BusinessObjects Cloud support you in getting your data displayed on an interactive map and enhance your BI experience.
This blog will be concluded by a short summary of the key points and a future outlook.
Please be aware that this blog will not replace a How-to guide or step-by-step instructions to produce geographical content. It will simply show you how easy it is to import data, enrich it if needed and visualize it. Please consult the SAP Help portal for detailed instructions on the usage of SAP solutions!
In the beginning is very important to differentiate between different wordings and names which you might have encountered in the past. We will only focus on two of them: GIS and Geospatial.
GIS stands for Geographic informational system and is a more general term that describes any system which is used to handle and visualize geographical information. On top of such a system, there is a usually a GIS application which is able to consume the GIS contents. 
Geospatial is an even broader term and mainly describes the usage of concrete geographical information your data. Whenever your data comes with specific geographical information like location coordinates we speak of Geospatial data. 
This is relevant to know as SAP BusinessObjects solutions are either leveraging your Geospatial data or converting your data into Geospatial information to visualize the results.
SAP BusinessObjects involves technologies from various partners including HERE (formerly NAVTEQ) and Esri.
Through our cooperation with Esri, SAP is able to offer a selection of basemaps in our BusinessObjects solution which come prepackaged and are already included in the license. However, to make sure that you can utilize the full power of Esri ArcGIS solutions, you can elso embed your own map services into our solutions.
HERE (formerly NAVTEQ) supports you in Geocoding which basically covers the transformation of text data like country or city names in Geospatial data. This is done by providing a database which allows you to convert parts of your data into Geospatial information.
While some of the services are already included in the respective licenses, some may have to be licensed directly with the vendors. This blog will clearly point out which feature is supported by which tool and for which feature you need an additional license.
As already mentioned, this article’s purpose is to mainly cover SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 (which is again split in Discovery and Designer) and SAP BusinessObjects Cloud.
Please note that this blog will not present the solutions in general. To find out more on the solutions, please follow these links:
In the following, the blog will cover all functionalities in these solutions. Some of the features are available in all of them. However, to make sure that nothing is misunderstood, this blog will always cover all features in every sub chapter separately.
As SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 will be the successor of SAP Lumira 1.31 and SAP Design Studio 1.6 SP4 in a converged solution it will also inherit most of the existing geographical functionalities. However, SAP BusinessObjects Lumira 2.0 will consist of two clients: the Discovery Client and Designer.
Both application will work on the same technology stack which means that you can open Discovery documents in the Designer to add further and more detailed customizations. This is essential as you can do Geo enrichment in the Discovery client for example and later use the geographical hierarchy in the Designer.
The SAP BusinessObjects Lumira Discovery Client (only called ‘Discovery’ in the further) allows you to easily explore your data and create beautiful and powerful charts out of it.
Which data do I need?
In best case, you can already provide data containing latitude / longitude information per record. This data has not be unique though since multiple records can be created at one location (sales per store for example). This allows us to exactly plot your locations on the map. SAP recommends this, whenever it is possible. If you can’t provide latitude / longitude, please evaluate the usage of Geocoding solutions. Some examples can be found in the Further Reading chapter.
If you are not able to provide the data or you only want to report on a less detailed level, you can also provide us city names or country names. Please be aware that only cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants are included in the database. Also in case of duplicates please make sure to exactly map the cities. The same goes for country names.
If Discovery can’t exactly match a country name for example it will try to find possible matches and ask you to select the right one.
How do I enrich the data?
In this blog we will only cover the example of enriching data which comes with latitude / longitude information. In our example case we imported an Excel file (the behavior is the same for importing data from other sources) which contains the columns latitude / longitude. We now want to use this to create a geographical dimension.
Our Excel table contains a list of night clubs in the city of Orlando which we want to visualize on the map. Therefore we import the file and select the option to create a geographical hierarchy based on the club name as this is my unique identifier. You could also think about using IDs for example.
If you want to use city or country names instead of latitude / longitude you have to select the option “By Names”.
Afterwards, you have to determine which dimension you are actually enriching with geographical data.
This can then be used to create a hierarchy. You can also select which elements of a hierarchy you want to use. Since we only want to see night clubs on the map, we will leave it unchecked. Hierarchies allow you to aggregate your data on multiple levels (like country for example).
By clicking Finish you create a geographical hierarchy which you can use to show the information on a map.
How do I visualize the data?
Discovery will deliver two map types: Offline Map and Online Map (ESRI). You can map your locations on both maps regardless of your location data. When using the Offline Map, you only have a map available which shows the shapes of continents.
The Online Map by ESRI comes prelicensed with four basemaps.
You can select your base map on the top right where the following options are available:
- Gray (as seen on the screenshot)
The map is interactive and allows zooming and also filtering by drawing on the map. Those filters can also be applied to other charts.
How can I consume custom ESRI content?
By default, you can only use the ESRI basemaps as they are included in the license. The Discovery settings allow you to put in your own credentials for Esri ArcGIS online or Esri on premise which will give you additional content.
However, this content is dependent on your ESRI license. Also, please be aware that as of today you can only consume Polygon Feature Layers from ESRI in Discovery.
Online connectivity and working offline
To work with Esri maps, you need to have online access. If you don’t want to use the Esri maps or want to work offline, the Discovery client offers an offline map which provides basic labels. You can choose colors for the countries, the water and the borders.
As successor of Design Studio, the Lumira Designer will allow you more customizing of the basemap and the utilization of more features. In the Designer you usually build application which can then be executed by users and support interactive behavior.
The Designer provides a component called “Map” which supports again the usage of Esri, an offline map or even your own basemap.
Which data do I need?
The data enrichment process is a little bit different in the Designer. You basically have to provide latitude / longitude and Designer will calculate locations out of it. In addition you can provide GeoJSON shapefiles. Also, since Lumira Designer will be able to consume Lumira Discovery documents, it will also be able to consume location data which was created in Discovery.
To add a new Geo Map to your application, you simply add the ‘Map’ component to it which will show you an empty map in the beginning. By default, the ESRI map will be used.
How do I visualize the data?
After adding the Map component to the application, you have multiple options available to it. In the Properties panes, you can set basic styling settings like margins and CSS classes. You can also enter the URL of your own basemap if you want to use it rather than ESRI. Also we can define whether a selection on the map leads to an inclusion or exclusion of the selected areas.
By default, Designer has the same four basemaps as Discovery does (listed above). Those can be selected by the user during the application execution. To plot data on the map, you have to create layers on top of the map. You have four layer types available to show data:
- By shapes
- By points
- By bubbles
- By pie charts (plotting a pie chart per location)
In our example now, we are plotting crime data on a map which also uses a geographical hierarchy. This is realized by adding three layers to the map, which are driven by a measure and use a GeoJSON file as location data. This means, that all locations are derived from an additional GeoJSON-file instead of latitude / longitude per record.
In the layers pane, we can define how the GeoJSON contents are mapped to our data. Also, we can determine our own color palette. And if we have a high amount of values we can also enable location clustering.
We add two additional layers called Region and State shape layers since they should only represent shapes. Also we define our own colors.
The Geomap also supports a drilldown, as it can be defined in the script area. Therefore we double-click on the Map in the Designer and write down a script which enables the Drill-down:
If we run the application we just built, we will see our map setup:
By double-clicking on one region (as we defined in a script), we can drill down into one region and then even again drill down up to our deepest layer.
The regions displayed on the map are derived from the shapefile so you are able to define your own regions and report on them.
Good to know
GeoJSON is a structure for geographical information and therefore not limited to polygon shapes only. It also allows other forms like lines to represent highways for example.
You don’t have to provide us GeoJSON files. When working with bubbles or points, latitude and longitude is enough information to show data on the map.
In total you can have up to ten layers on a map which can come from different data sources and therefore combine multiple information and layer types on one map. User selection and interaction is done on the runtime.
Also, all geographical visualizations are supported in PDF export (non-interactive then) and bookmark scenarios.
As SAP BusinessObjects Cloud is only offered in the cloud, there are multiple ways to get geographical content into your system.
If you want to consume a remote HANA view which is stored on your On-Premise HANA system please follow the guide listed under Further readings. This blog will cover two workflows in SAP BusinessObjects Cloud: importing geographical data by latitude / longitude and importing shapefiles.
Which data do I need?
To enrich your data with geographical information you need latitude / longitude information per location or record or at least the country name. This data has to part of the dataset which you provide to SAP BusinessObjects Cloud.
Like above, you may consider using Geocoding services to add the required data to your existing information.
In this example we will upload geographical data first.
Shapefiles should be in the .shp and .dbf-format. We will also upload a shapefile. This is of course optional. You don’t need shapefiles to visualize your data. Shapefiles only provide additional content for the map!
How do I enrich the data?
This blog will not cover the modeling process of BusinessObjects Cloud in general but only show which steps are necessary to enrich your data with geographical information.
Again, we will upload our Orlando Excel file into the cloud. Therefore we create a new model and choose to upload a file. In the data wrangling screen we choose to enrich the Name column by latitude / longitude.
We are asked to determine some of the required columns. First of all, you have to enter a name for the newly added location column. This name will later be shown on the map legend, so please choose it wisely.
Then you are asked to define a Tooltip text. This column determines what the user will be presented when he holds his mouse over a point on the map. The Location Identifier should be the column which contains unique values per location. Latitude and longitude should be self-explanatory as you simply determine the respective columns there.
After you clicked on Create you will be notified about the location creation process by this message:
Optional: We will now add a shapefile to our analysis. If you are not interested in that please click here to directly jump to the visualization of our results.
As we are analyzing night clubs in Orlando, we also want to know which night clubs lies in which police district. Therefore we download the publicly available shapefile ‘Police Districts’ from the homepage of the city of Orlando.
SAP is holding the SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando annually. For event planning this information may help us in coordinating evening parties where we want to book multiple night clubs for example and want to make sure that police is aware of that. Also this could be a typical example for a self-service scenario where users want to perform some analyses on their own without having to ask central IT to provide the necessary content or import it into a corporate data warehouse.
When uploading a shapefile, you have to provide the .dbf and .shp-file and some information about it.
The Name field determines how the information will be later on named in the tool. You also have to know your Spatial Reference ID. If you don’t know this or your shapefiles are not in the supported format, you can use shapefile converting tools or services to determine your shapefile format and convert it if necessary to one of the supported formats.
The tooltip text again determines the mouse-over text which is shown when holding your mouse over the shapes. When you are done, click on Create. If you don’t want to enable your Point of Interests right away, turn off the toggle “Enable on creation”. However, if you want to use the information right away like we want to do, simply leave it turned on.
You can also extract locations from an existing model to be shown as Points of Interest or upload a .csv-file containing locations to be stored as Points of Interest.
Points of Interest are only descriptive. They provide no measures but can be used to visualize locations and create filters around those locations.
We now want to show our information on the map. Therefore, we are creating a new story and adding the map chart to it.
SAP BusinessObjects Cloud has a few more basemaps available. As of today, you can choose between the following with the included license:
For now, we will stick to the Light Gray map. Geo Maps work with a layer concept which means that you can visualize multiple layers of data from different data sources. You can choose between the following types of layers:
The Bubble layers shows bubbles per location. You can determine the color and size of the bubbles by measures. Also the layer supports automatic clustering of near points to better visualize your data.
The Point of Interest layer visualizes the just uploaded shape files or other Point of Interest-models. With the Feature Layer you can embed external layers from publicly available Esri MapServers. The Heat Map layer builds a heat map around the locations and the Choropleth layer allows you to visualize your geographical hierarchies. The Flow layer can visualize flows between two locations. The map automatically renders lines between two given locations while you can set measures to influence the thickness and color of the lines.
We will now visualize our night clubs first as bubbles without any measure. Therefore we create a Bubble Layer, select our model as data source and determine our options:
After clicking OK, our results will be displayed on the map:
We add a second layer by clicking “Ok” on the first layer and “Add Layer” to open a new one. We choose the type “Point of Interest Layer” and add our just uploaded Orlando Police Districts:
As we can see, a lot of our night clubs aren’t actually in the responsibility of the Orlando police department which means that we may have to contact further police departments if we want to book the clubs or host a bigger event there and want to inform the police upfront.
The Geo Map provides a lot of additional features. You can for example upload other locations as Points of Interest (Orlando universities and colleges for example) and set a filter which only shows night clubs which are in specified distance around the universities and colleges (5km for example). You can also set a filter to only include location which are actually inside the plotted polygons (for example only clubs which are in the responsibility of the Orlando police).
You are also able to freely draw polygons on the map to filter values visually and transfer this filter to other chats.
To avoid an overblown blog, we will not visualize further examples. However, on the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud website you are able to request your own trial tenant. Register there and experience the geographical features yourselves to get a better picture!
All in all, SAP and its partners provide multiple ways for you to easily visualize your data and get powerful and easy to understand insights out of it. With our prelicensed ESRI maps you can utilize the power of multiple basemaps to overlay information and additional content and gain supporting insights.
As for Lumira 2.0, everything described so far is planned for the upcoming release of the tool. Due to development decisions it may happen, that some of the features change in look and feel and even in availability.
The BusinessObjects Cloud contents are current and already released to customers. However, a lot of improvements and additions are planned or in discussion for the future like Geocoding, moving data, Vehicle Insights etc. Also the integration of custom ESRI content is already being planned.
To get a better overview on upcoming releases, we always encourage you to download the most current roadmap. You can find the documents at sap.com/roadmaps but please be aware that you may need to have an user account to access the content.
- Using SAP HANA Geocode
- Lumira Geoextension with datamaps.js and topojson.js
- Mapping import-export flows between countries with GeoJSON/topoJSON in Lumira
- Preparing custom GeoJSON/topoJSON maps for use in Lumira and Design Studio
- Experiences with SAP HANA Geo-Spatial Features
- Using Geospatial analysis / location data with SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (S-user required!)
- Spatial Delivery Unit for SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (S-user required!)
- Document “Creating Geo Model from Hana.PDF” in SAP BusinessObjects Cloud 2016.19 release information (S-user required!)
 Geographic information system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographic_information_system [accessed on 2017-03-28]
 GIS vs Geospatial: http://www.mygeoportal.gov.my/gis-vs-geospatial [accessed on 2017-03-28]
This presentation, or any related document and SAP’s strategy and possible future developments, products and or platforms directions and functionality are all subject to change and may be changed by SAP at any time for any reason without notice. The information in this presentation is not a commitment, promise or legal obligation to deliver any material, code or functionality. This presentation is provided without a warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. This presentation is for informational purposes and may not be incorporated into a contract. SAP assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in this presentation, except if such damages were caused by SAP’s intentional or gross negligence.
All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates, and they should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions.
A special thanks goes to Jie Deng who supplied Lumira 2.0 contents for this blog and everyone who supported me by adding content and proof-reading the blog.