GIS and data visualization tools have transformed our ability to understand complex geographic (and non-locational) relationships by catering the representation of the information to our innate human expertise in comprehending two- and three-dimensional spaces. Many problems can be quickly assessed - at least in a preliminary way - through the use of well-designed graphics that reveal the key spatial relationships between two or more things.

Visualization: Spatial Patterns

U.S. over-65 population and property values
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Mapping tabular data such as census numbers can provide quick and dramatic insight into geographic patterns that can be used to understand markets, disease patterns, environmental conditions, weather, population trends, and so on. This map displays two variables simultaneously for every county in the U.S.: the percentage of the population that is over age 65 (colors) and the median home value (height). The map highlights the concentration of retirees living in Florida and the midwest, while showing the different economic settings in which they live (homes more than twice as expensive in the Florida counties than the midwest ones).