Mapping Covered bonds

Mapping consolidated public data with content managed through the Google Sheets API.

Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC : for Global Capital

Global Capital is a leading news, opinion and data service for people and institutions using and working in the international capital markets. Historically they have produced regular large format print maps aggregating data for their clients. So valueable have these maps become as a quick reference that they provide a premium return.

As a side piece of work my team had been working on a digital version, evolved from a previous brief to translate the maps to digital that was de-scoped. Confident we could provide value to the business we sold the concept and soon found ourselves wondering if we should have been careful what we asked for.

Mapping data has been relatively trivial since Google maps came along and made our lives easier, as long as that’s the experience you need. What’s harded is to manage data that’s aggregated manually and is loosely defined to say the least. It’s even tricker when the entire backend and DBA teams are suddenly re-assigned to urgent BAU work.

So what do you do? Sit back, take a breath and break it down into parts you know you can provide. In this case we knew that while the data had high value it wasn’t proprietry, the value lay in aggregating various sources of information in the public domain. Thankfully someone was doing that for us, but then that someone isn’t technical and will need a tool they can work with. After universally agreeing we just weren’t going to deal with Excel we sketched out a lightweight client side app, using Google Sheets API as our data source and a third party library to do the heavy integration and formatting for us.

We already knew we would be using Google Maps to keep things simple. On top of that though we needed to provide data vis, so we got stuck into D3 and discovered C3 layered on top which made things much faster.

So we had a sketch, some of which you can see below. As we evolved the app so the design evolved, incorporating news articles scraped from the Global Capital RSS feed, new requirements to allow easy re-styling of the map and a new design from the latest release.

All we needed then was a nod from security and legal that we hadn’t caused any headaches for anyone and the Covered Bonds digital map was born.

Covered Bonds initial detail view design

Covered Bonds initial trends view design