A hexagon tile map algorithm for displaying spatial data

Stephanie Kobakian, Dianne Cook, Earl Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Spatial distributions have been presented on alternative representations of geography, such as cartograms, for many years. In modern times, interactivity and animation have allowed alternative displays to play a larger role. Alternative representations have been popularised by online news sites, and digital atlases with a focus on public consumption. Applications are increasingly widespread, especially in the areas of disease mapping, and election results. The algorithm presented here creates a display that uses tessellated hexagons to represent a set of spatial polygons, and is implemented in the R package called sugarbag. It allocates these hexagons in a manner that preserves the spatial relationship of the geographic units, in light of their positions to points of interest. The display showcases spatial distributions, by emphasising the small geographical regions that are often difficult to locate on geographic maps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-16
Number of pages11
JournalThe R Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Cite this