Surrey Azure User-Group July 2024

On 3rd July 2024 I took my first visit to the Surrey Azure UserGroup meeting which is held in Woking, Surrey, UK.

After a gathering for freshly cooked pizza and drinks there were two talks, the first on using maps in PowerBI, and the second on GitHub Copilot.

Geospacial Analytics and Advanced Mapping in PowerBI

James Dales presented this first session where he gave us a thorough look at what can be achieved with the built in Azure Maps and ArcGIS mapping in PowerBI. Using crime data from the UK Police and local authority boundary data from the Office for National Statistics he was able to draw a picture of crime rates in individual areas, but also highlight the limitations of the SaaS platform.

This was where James’ own product Icon Map Pro was brought in. A successor to the free Icon Map which he previously developed, this paid-for extension to PowerBI enabled him to create much higher quality geographic visualisations than were possible with the stock tooling. He went on to demo how this can be used with other data sets, from global air traffic down to individual building plans.

GitHub Copilot

The second talk was given by Jonathan D’Aloia who stepped in to give us a rundown on GitHub Copilot. Several people in the audience had already used this AI-powered coding assistant, and whilst a few limitations were highlighted, it appears to be generally well-liked.

We heard about some of the many benefits of this Copilot through both slides and a demo using BICEP and the Visual Studio Code extension. There’s many abilities included, and we always here about the “write me some code to do X” solutions. However the ones that stood out for me were the documentation feature, whereby you ask Copilot to explain some code, and also the functionality which can create unit tests for your code.

He included some example shortcut commands in the demo, @workspace /explain being an example of how to quickly create the starting point for your code documentation.


The event was hosted in the Lightbox, a gallery/ venue/ restaurant in the town centre. I drove and parked in the adjacent Brewery Road car park (use the “JustPark” app to pay on exit, £2.20 after 6pm) and the venue is only a 5 minute walk from Woking station which is well served with trains from London Waterloo, Portsmouth, Southampton and beyond.

The Lightbox in Woking

Next Event

Taking a break for August, the next event is scheduled for 11th September, again at 6:30pm. Details and registration can be found on