DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURES for RESEARCH 2018 | Serving the user base

Visualising Operational Informatics Data using R

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 16:00


With the advancement of modern technology, measuring performance of systems and processes has become an important element of business operations. To improve efficiency and implement accountability within academic cores, we need ready access to information from operational data in order to assess (academic) business analytics. The answer to this is often a real-time dashboard or information monitoring system. However, before committing to a tool or a chart type, one must first identify a message for their visualisation, preferably one that will be actionable. We will walk you through how to create one in R and why we think this is a great way to start.

This training workshop will address both theories and methods of building charts and dashboards in an open-source environment. Participants of this workshop will first learn the intricacies of story-telling using graphics and how to identify useful Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Next, best practices in dashboard designs and an overview of the grammar of graphics will be covered.

We will move to hands-on programming opportunities using R software, R packages (e.g., rCharts, flexdashboard), and Shiny web app framework. These programs are being intensively contributed to and supported in the open-source community; they also provide a solid platform for customization. Finally, the workshop instructors will present various ways of publishing charts independently online or within a particular network (using Shiny Server). Participants will learn the basics of building a dashboard in Shiny and will be exposed to some of the advanced examples of analytical Shiny apps.

Thus, by the end of the workshop, participants will be able to use open-source technologies for powerful graphics and actionable insights through: developing KPIs, building powerful visualisations using best-practices in information design, and sharing dashboards with various audiences. Detailed agenda and training tools are described here:

Target Audience:

This workshop will be helpful to data analysts, managers, and researchers, who either perform their own data analysis and visualisation, or build ad hoc reports on performance and operations. IT professionals, looking to broaden their skills, will also find this tutorial a useful and quick exposure to the recent graphics design tools in R.


Benefits for Audience:

After this workshop participants will be able to identify and analyze Key Performance Indicators with the goal of providing actionable insights, as well as discuss the main properties of efficient data visualisations and apply Grammar of Graphics to visualise KPIs in their business and operations. Attendees will learn how to build charts using graphical packages for R, develop Shiny applications and dashboards and make them available for various audiences.



Leslie McIntosh, PhD, MPH

Connie Zabarovskaya, MITM, MBA(remote)

Washington University in St. Louis