Power BI


What is Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is a collection of software services, applications, and connectors that work together to turn related and unrelated sources of data into coherent, visually immersive and interactive insights. With its simple user interface and availability as part of the Office 365 package, Power BI has become a standard business intelligence/data visualization tool of OCHA.

Whether your data is a simple Microsoft Excel workbook, or a collection of cloud-based and on-premises hybrid data warehouses, Power BI lets you easily connect, clean, and model your data without affecting the underlying source. The broad catalogue of built-in and add-on visualization options allows creating neat and easy-read summaries of both simple and complex data. Finally, Power BI allows sharing of the final work with either public or restricted audiences.

The components of Power BI

Power BI consists of a Microsoft Windows desktop application called Power BI Desktop, an online SaaS (Software as a Service) called the Power BI service, and mobile Power BI apps available for phones and tablets.

These three elements — Desktop, the service, andthe Mobile apps — are designed to let people create, share, and consume business insights in the way most convenient for their role and goals.


Workspaces are containers for dashboards, reports, datasets, and dataflows in Power BI. There are two types of workspaces: My workspace and workspaces.

  • My workspace is the personal workspace for any Power BI customer to work with your own content. Only you have access to your My workspace. You can share dashboards and reports from your My Workspace. If you want to collaborate on dashboards and reports, or create an app, then you want to work in a workspace.

  • Workspaces are used to collaborate and share content with colleagues. You can add colleagues to your workspaces and collaborate on dashboards, reports, and datasets. With one exception, all workspace members need Power BI Pro licenses.

Workspaces are also the places where you create, publish, and manage apps for your organization. Think of workspaces as staging areas and containers for the content that will make up a Power BI app. So what is an app? An app is a collection of dashboards and reports built to deliver key metrics to the Power BI consumers in your organization. Apps are interactive, but consumers cannot edit them. App consumers, the colleagues who have access to the apps, do not necessarily need Pro licenses.

Process - OCHA Product Support

PowerBI Pro License and OCHA Workspace

Complete the License and Work Space Request form to request Pro licenses and Premium workspaces. To optimize the efficient use of licenses in OCHA, licenses that are not used for four months or longer will be deactivated if no longer needed.


  • Use PCodes and ISO codes to connect different datasets. Wherever possible, the most convenient way to connect two or more datasets, is using PCodes. When using other attributes such as name of a country, district or settlement, there is a risk that the spelling is not the same across the datasets, creating a risk of missed links.

  • Pay attention to the column data type. For correct display of numeric data in the visuals, the data type should be set as “Integer” or “Decimal”. If set as “Multiple”, it is not possible to perform mathematical functions (such as SUM, DIVIDE, MULTIPLY) with the data.

  • Use the Power Query tool to create aliases. Ever come across column or attribute names such as HHs_Female_U18_1-3_PWD_Yes or potableWaterPerHhWithIdpStatusBaselineApril2020? While technically necessary when using KoBo or other MDC tool, such names tend to be inconvenient or even unreadable to the end users. Generally speaking, end users prefer to see standard spacing instead of camel cases or underscores used by KoBo or similar tools. Hence, where necessary, you can use Power Query to create duplicate columns with aliases, increasing the overall user experience.

  • Leave an “expansion space” for your visualizations. Especially in large-scale sudden onset disaster situations, the figures tend to grow in a rapid pace. In addition to the absolute figures, the number of categories is likely to increase: more districts, more distinct groups of people affected, more response organizations. The increasing number of figures and categories means further population of the visualization elements, whether in a map, chart or table formats. Do not squeeze your visuals into a too small space, but make sure that the visuals will remain readable and meaningful even with rapid changes of the situation. The same applies to the map elements: check that the zoom level of the map will expand as new geographical areas are being covered.

  • Consider the strengths and weaknesses of each map tool option. Power BI provides several different tools to create maps: the built-in location map, filled map and shapemap along with the add ins from MapBox and ArcGIS. While each tool comes with certain technical and visual advantages, each of them also has certain limitations. Please refer to the Map visualization in Power BI page for full information about the best use cases for each map tool.

  • Practical Power BI tips from ROWCA:

  1. Simplifying Numbers

  2. Get Excel SharePoint data

Got any useful Power BI tips? Please contact us to share your tips on this page.