Timo Grossenbacher works as reporter/coder for SRF Data, the data journalism unit of Swiss Radio and TV. He analyzes and visualizes data and investigates data-driven stories. On his website, he hosts a growing list of cool projects. One of his recent blogs covers categorical spatial interpolation in R. The end result of that blog looks amazing:

This map was built with data Timo crowdsourced for one of his projects. With this data, Timo took the following steps, which are covered in his tutorial:

  • Read in the data, first the geometries (Germany political boundaries), then the point data upon which the interpolation will be based on.
  • Preprocess the data (simplify geometries, convert CSV point data into an sf object, reproject the geodata into the ETRS CRS, clip the point data to Germany, so data outside of Germany is discarded).
  • Then, a regular grid (a raster without “data”) is created. Each grid point in this raster will later be interpolated from the point data.
  • Run the spatial interpolation with the kknn package. Since this is quite computationally and memory intensive, the resulting raster is split up into 20 batches, and each batch is computed by a single CPU core in parallel.
  • Visualize the resulting raster with ggplot2.

All code for the above process can be accessed on Timo’s Github. The georeferenced points underlying the interpolation look like the below, where each point represents the location of a person who selected a certain pronunciation in an online survey. More details on the crowdsourced pronunciation project van be found here, .

Another of Timo’s R map, before he applied k-nearest neighbors on these crowdsourced data. [original]
If you want to know more, please read the original blog or follow Timo’s new DataCamp course called Communicating with Data in the Tidyverse.