Waggle: Satnav for bees

Everybody is familiar with maps and their usage especially now with their widespread presence on mobile phones, satellite navigation devices, in cars and so on. Satnavs are essentially maps (models) of the environment that are used to effectively communicate information through spatial information (visualisation). They are also used to create journeys (mappings) from a starting location to a target location with activities being performed during or at the end of the journey.

Unfortunately, bees don’t have the luxury of maps and satnav devices at their disposal, instead they have developed an alternative; the Waggle dance. This is a term, used especially in beekeeping and when studying animal behaviour that describes a particular figure-of-eight dance of the bee. By performing this dance bees can share information about the direction and distance to successful foraging sites, sources of water, or to a new nest-site location with other members of the bee colony. For a fruitful journey the bees also need to be able to navigate their way back to their hive.

For the waggle dance, success of communication depends upon sharing data successfully: the duration of the dance indicates the distance whilst the orientation of the dance indicates the direction of travel. The anatomy of a journey is thus:

  • Start location
  • Direction
  • Distance
  • Activities

These characteristics are shared with data mappings in information technology too where there is the need to explain a data movement, the anatomy of a data journey is:

  • Start: data model source
  • End: data model target
  • Direction: upstream/downstream lineage and traceability
  • Activities: data transformations
Transformation Activities
Transformation Activities

The start and end points are the data models required for mappings of the journey to be defined and the diagram, as shown above, is the graphical visualisation of the mappings. Mapping diagrams such as these also enable data analysts to determine lineage and traceability.

Unfortunately for bees, as far as we know, they don’t have access to tools for defining their journeys. However, you have access to data mapping tools where you can use the tools for automated discovery of data catalogs and mappings and for the creation and visualisation of data flows and mappings. With tools you can:

  • Catalog Metadata
    • Automated discovery and manual documentation of existing meta-data assets
  • Map data flows
    • Automated documentation of existing data movement
    • Manual documentation of current and future data movement
  • Perform lineage and impact analysis
    • Upstream and downstream analysis
  • Apply governance
    • Version management
    • Workflow and change control
    • Collaborative environment
  • Generate for data movement

For further information on how Sandhill Consultants can help in your data mapping efforts see this link.

Watch our webinar showing how data mapping and data intelligence can help your organisations data landscape here