So maybe you’ve heard that deforestation is destroying 200 kilometers of the world’s forests each day. Obviously, that doesn’t sound good. But visualize this data on a map of the world, and it’s much easier to understand why deforestation is a huge concern.
This ability to communicate information through maps is what spurred Javier de la Torre, a conservation scientist by training, to launch mapping software startup CartoDB in 2012 after spending years researching endangered species.
Today, CartoDB is announcing $23 million in new funding led by Accel Partners to bring its data visualization tools to individual and business users worldwide. Salesforce Ventures participated in the Series B round, along with existing investors Earlybird Ventures and Kibo Ventures, which brings the company’s funding total to $31 million.
“One of the most problematic things that we have in conservation is that the scientists can’t explain the work they’re doing in a way that’s effective for people to take decisions or understand the consequences,” de la Torre says. “Climate change is an incredible example, scientists are telling us that things are going one way but people still don’t get it.”
With CartoDB, any user can upload their data and choose from a variety of suggested mapping templates to best visualize it. Earlier this year, the company launched One-Click Mapping, a feature that analyzes the data you upload and automatically creates maps showing the relevant information.
“A lot of people will look at their data for a particular thing, but they might be missing other insights,” de la Torre says. “By analyzing it on our own and displaying a number of possibilities, we see people saying ‘Huh, I didn’t know that was there.’”
From real-time visualizations of America’s Super Bowl tweets to a map of Los Angeles County’s homeless population, CartoDB’s software has already been utilized to communicate a broad range of information.
Although potentially less relevant to most of you, this map of nocturnal bird migration over the German-Polish border (which also accounts for time of sunset, wind intensity, and flight speed) shows just how sophisticated these vizzes can get.
Currently, the company is working with over 1,000 paying customers — ranging from big banks to government departments in New York City, Mexico City, and Barcelona, among others — but anyone can create a free account to access the platform’s basic features.
The more businesses that dump their data into CartoDB, the smarter the company’s mapping and data-processing algorithms will get. Ultimately, this means that average business users will be much better equipped to handle their own data analysis.
“Just like nowadays there’s no Excel department in a company because people know how to use it, we’re going to see the same thing happen with mapping and location intelligence,” de la Torre says. “We want to see a much bigger audience using this to empower a society that’s able to make better decisions by themselves.”