What Type of Data Does a Sankey Diagram Generally Use?


Heather Bennett

A Sankey diagram is a powerful visualization tool that allows us to represent complex flows of data in a clear and intuitive manner. But what type of data does a Sankey diagram generally use? In this article, we will explore the different types of data that are commonly used in Sankey diagrams.

What is a Sankey Diagram?

A Sankey diagram is a type of flow diagram that visualizes the movement or flow of data, energy, or material through a system. It uses arrows or lines with varying widths to represent the quantity or volume of the flow. The width of the arrows is proportional to the magnitude of the flow.

Types of Data Used in Sankey Diagrams

Sankey diagrams can be used to represent various types of data. Let’s take a look at some common examples:

1. Energy Flows

One popular use case for Sankey diagrams is visualizing energy flows. These diagrams can show how energy is generated, distributed, and consumed within a system. For example, a Sankey diagram can illustrate the flow of electricity from power plants to different sectors like residential, commercial, and industrial.

2. Material Flows

Sankey diagrams are also useful for representing material flows in manufacturing processes or supply chains. They can show how raw materials are transformed into finished products, highlighting the different stages and quantities involved. This type of visualization helps identify inefficiencies and optimize resource allocation.

3. Budget Allocation

Another common application of Sankey diagrams is budget allocation. They can be used to visualize how funds are distributed among different departments or categories within an organization. The width of the arrows represents the amount of money allocated to each category, providing a clear picture of financial flows.

4. Environmental Analysis

Sankey diagrams can also be used for environmental analysis, particularly in the context of carbon footprints or greenhouse gas emissions. By visualizing the flows of emissions from different sources and their impact on the environment, these diagrams help identify areas for improvement and guide sustainability efforts.

Creating a Sankey Diagram

To create a Sankey diagram, you will need data that represents the flows you want to visualize. Typically, this data is structured as a series of nodes connected by links. Each node represents a category or stage, while the links represent the flows between them.

  • Source Node: This is the starting point of the flow.
  • Target Node: This is the destination or endpoint of the flow.
  • Flow Magnitude: This represents the quantity or volume of the flow.

Once you have your data ready, there are various software tools and libraries available that can help you create interactive and visually appealing Sankey diagrams. Some popular options include D3.js, Tableau, and Microsoft Power BI.

In Conclusion

Sankey diagrams are a versatile visualization tool that can be used to represent different types of data. Whether it’s energy flows, material flows, budget allocation, or environmental analysis, Sankey diagrams provide an effective way to understand complex systems and identify patterns and insights.

Now that you know what type of data is generally used in Sankey diagrams, you can explore further and start creating your own informative and visually engaging visualizations.

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