A Spooky Data Dashboard: Find Haunted Places Near YouReading time: 4 minutes
Mist encapsulates you as you walk down the hallway outside your bedroom. The energy feels dreary and unpleasant. Decaying wallpaper oozes a rotten smell. You hear a groan bellowing from outside the door, followed by loud bangs that vibrate your ears. The lights flicker, then shut off completely, leaving you hopeless in the dark. A chill envelops the room, slicing through the air like icy razor blades. Suddenly, the lights turn on, a door slams shut, and the radio bursts out in classical music.
With the lights back on, you take a deep breath. It was probably just the wind… or was it?
If you’ve ever experienced any of these common signs of a haunted house, you know how chilling they can be. Scary as they are, though, you can rationalize each of these signs. Cold spots, for example, might be leaking air ducts. Groans and banging in the walls could be old pipes. But just because you can explain these events doesn’t change the fact that people believe in the paranormal and feel convinced that they’ve experienced it themselves.
When it comes to haunted houses specifically, more people believe in haunted houses than you may think. According to a Realtor.com survey, 1 in 4 Americans believe they LIVE in a haunted house! Furthermore, the same survey revealed that some people even move into haunted houses willingly: 44% of those living in a suspected haunted house said they knowingly moved into a haunted house.
Who wants to live in a haunted house?
For some, there’s a certain thrill that comes from living in a haunted house, and that alone is enough to appeal to them. It’s also true that haunted houses can be easier to afford. Houses with a bleak track record are considered “stigmatized properties” and usually have less competition from buyers. Hauntings can also be profitable, like in the case of the Winchester Mystery House, which was once a haunted home and now stands as a haunted tourist attraction.
If you’re in the market for a haunted house, you might want to look in states like Texas, California, Ohio, or Indiana. These are the US states with the highest concentration of hauntings. Alternatively, if you want to avoid buying a haunted house, Delaware might be your best bet!
Since the probability that you live in a haunted house varies from state to state, it seems that haunting activity tends to cluster in certain places. That got us wondering: how many haunted places are near our office? How might we find out?
In the spirit of Halloween, our analyst Jon MacMillan built this spooky Tableau dashboard that shows the five closest haunted places near you. Just enter your zip code below!
For the best experience, click here to view the dashboard on Tableau.
The Not-so-spooky Process Behind the Dashboard
First, Jon used our data prep tool, Construct, to round the latitude and longitude in a list of all US zip codes and a dataset of haunted places to the nearest tenth. Without rounding the lat and lon, Construct would have compared all 40,000 unique zip codes to the 10,000 listed in the haunted dataset, resulting in 400 million pairs. Rounding reduced that number to 4 million unique pairs to test.
Construct offers a built-in calculation to determine the distance between two zip codes, allowing Jon to calculate how far each US zip code was from each of the haunted locations. He filtered this list down to the top 5 locations for each zip code based on minimum distance, allowing him to create his map.
Jon also added a simple lookup on keywords used in the location name. He broke out all of the distinct words used in the location name and identified common places for hauntings to occur. Some words, like “cemetery” and “hospital,” popped up more often than other words. Bridges, theaters, and museums also appeared frequently. Jon created a new field that identified if these words appeared in the location description and added a ‘type’ filter to the map.
Here is what the complete Construct job looks like:
As you can see, this job accomplishes a lot in relatively few steps. In all, it took Jon roughly thirty minutes to put the job together.
Data prep doesn’t have to be scary!
Construct makes it eerily easy to prepare data for Tableau visualizations. If you’re interested in learning more, click the button below for a personalized demo!