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Direction of travel on a map in Power BI

Show direction fo travel on a map in Power BI

Can we show the Direction of travel on a map in Power BI?

A global commodity trading client of ours had a requirement to create a dashboard that presented the latest locations and headings for a range of container ships

This was part of a migration away from using Tableau, to using Power BI


The internal BI team had been using a dashboard in Tableau which catered for this requirement quite easily, but could not find a way to replicate this in Power BI, so the task was handed over to us

What follows is a simplified guide using some sample data that we have generated to make it straight forward to follow along

Getting started

The first thing you will need is some sample shipping data

We created a simple spreadsheet with 49 rows to illustrate

shipping data

Shipping sample data

Shipping data is typically polled by the shipping companies and captures the direction of travel (Heading), the latitude and longitude and speed in knots at the time, as well as other static data about the vessel itself

The key data points we will focus on are

Heading – this is the direction the ship is travelling in in degrees, with zero degrees representing north

Latitude and Longitude – The geographical co-ordinates

Ship name – randomly generated ship names

You will also need an appropriate icon to represent the ships

In our case we used a AI image creator to represent a ship and removed the background

shipping icon

It is really important that this image faces North in its neutral position, we will be applying the heading as a rotation to illustrate the direction of travel



Step by Step


The first step is to load the sample data into Power BI

On the Home ribbon in Power BI Desktop, select get data, then Excel workbook and select your excel file

If you download our sample data you will save yourself some time and not have to do anything to the field types


Once it is loaded you can then download the IconMapV3 from the marketplace, which is a free download

select the three dots and select get more visuals

get more visuals link in Power BI

In the search box type ‘Icon Map’

hit enter and look for Icon Map by James Dales

Icon Map v3 in Power BI Visuals

select icon map, then click add and the new visual appears in Power BI desktop


Icon Mao information screen

icon map v3 visual in Power BI

Now select this and drag it onto your canvas

Icon map visual

Field settings for the Icon Map

Category – use ship name

longitude = longitude

latitude = latitude

Size = IconSize



Add the icon

Select format your visual

Then go down to objects and expand the section

icon settings

We will use the conditional formatting options under Image / WKT

within there we will use the icon field

The icon field is a url which Power BI uses to download the icon

we have used this

setting for the shipping icon

Then set the heading, we use the image rotation to turn the object by the correct number of degrees

Image rotation options



You will now see the position and direction of travel of these ships on the map

Icon map showing direction of travel




Showing the direction of travel on a map in Power BI  is made much easier with this add in

This just the basics to get you started, and by following along with the example you can get similar results

Icon Map v3 is the latest release and has a great deal more features, some of which look very impressive



Further Reading

Icon Map (

There is a dedicated website to provide further information and support along with some excellent interactive examples


real time tracking of aircraft data



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Business Analytics Blog

By Simon Harrison

Simon Harrison Founder of Select Distinct Limited and a business intelligence expert