Archive

DataVisualization

Definitions from the Oxford Dictionaries:

Communication(s):
• The imparting or exchanging of information or news
• The successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings
• Means of connection between people and places, in particular sending or receiving information

Design:
• The art or action of conceiving of and producing plan or drawing that shows the look and function of something before it is built or made
• An arrangement of lines or shapes created to form a pattern or decoration
• Purpose, planning, or intention that exists behind an action, fact, or material object
• To do, plan or create with a specific purpose or intention in mind

Therefore,

Communications Design is the art of conceiving and producing the purpose, planning and intention behind the successful conveying or sharing of ideas, feelings, information and news.

In other words,

Communication design consultants (like me) specialize in planning and creating content that makes a connection with others.

Read Wikipedia’s detailed definition

While data visualization is frequently automated using technology and development, sometimes it’s an artist’s manual touch that paints the most compelling and accurate picture.

population of the world

I created these proportional population world maps in Illustrator after organizing the data in Excel. Through careful placement and organization, every country in the world is accurately positioned relative to each other so that the viewer doesn’t require labels to recognize which proportional population circle belongs to each country (although labels obviously enhance the comparisons). (2010-2011 data)
View labeled, zoomable image

*****

religions of the world

I was curious to explore the national breakdowns and regional distributions of major world religions, so I decided to push the above population map further by adding pie charts. (2010 data)
View labeled, zoomable image

*****

the technical touch

If I were to push the religion graphic to the next level, it would be to make the static image interactive so that the detailed information would be available to the viewer. However, as I only know how to build such a product in Flash, I would need to collaborate with a developer with advanced skills to create an interactive that works on all devices and browsers.

SOURCES: United Nations Population Fund; World Religion Database

 © CLO Communications

*****

In 2010, I collaborated with the AP’s investigative reporting team on a special project about Afghanistan’s severe lack of electricity. Photographers had beautifully captured the issue on an intimate level, showing the impact on individuals’ daily lives. But as the interactive and graphic journalist on the team, my task was to present the problem in a broader context.

view project summary      launch flash interactive      view complete project on nbcnews.com

Through my research, I uncovered two fresh approaches that revealed the magnitude of the problem through cartography and data visualization.

Basic math: How bad is bad?

My data reporting created the project’s lead statement: “No country in the world has less electricity per person than Afghanistan.” I found energy consumption data for every country in the world in the CIA Factbook. I then compared the figures to the same source’s country population data to create my own “energy consumption per capita” rate. Through that basic and accessible analysis, I proved that not only was Afghanistan’s energy situation dire, but it was the worst out of any country in the world. The only place that had a worse rate was the Gaza Strip – and it was a territory, not a country.

Powerful visuals: How can I show the problem in a compelling way?

In addition to visualizing the country comparison data mentioned above, I was able to locate and speak with the individual at NASA who was responsible for creating GIS-friendly nighttime satellite imagery of the world. Following our conversation, he outputted customized files that I could use for the project. A colleague who specialized in GIS data research helped me locate comparable population density source files, information that was needed to put the satellite image into geographic context.

Through my design and cartography (using Illustrator, ArcGIS and Excel), I created the overlaying visual comparisons between the satellite imagery, the population density map and the energy data. Through the interactive narrative, the viewer can instantly grasp the severe energy situation in Afghanistan:

 


 

Integrated visual storytelling triggers a combined emotional and intellectual response that educates and engages the viewer. Introductory text focuses the message which is enhanced through analytical comparisons, big-picture understanding and an emotional connection to the individual experience.

Below are key elements of an interactive I created for the Associated Press on the many natural disasters in 2010. For this project, I combed through the AP’s extensive photo archive to carefully pick images that captured the events and visually worked together to broaden the story. I also researched, analyzed and charted the data, wrote the text, designed all elements and coded the interactive. It was published Dec. 20, 2010.

INTRODUCTION – conceptual connections

Photo collage of the disasters in Hungary, Chile, China and Haiti

Natural disasters killed more than a quarter million people in 2010, the deadliest year in more than a generation. Experts say that even though many disasters have the ring of random chance, man had an awful lot to do with it being such a tumultuous year, from global warming to poor construction and development practices. This sample of disasters, which includes man-made technological catastrophes, shows how bad human decision making can wreak havoc on the planet and destroy lives.

GRAPHICS – intellectual understanding

(static screenshots – launch flash interactive for complete data comparison and sources)

PHOTOGRAPHY – emotional engagement

(disasters listed alphabetically – all photos from apimages.comlaunch flash interactive for credits)

      SCOPE OF DISASTER          |          PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Chile 8.8 earthquake:
China 6.9 earthquake:
Gulf of Mexico oil spill:
Haiti 7.0 earthquake:
Hungary toxic sludge spill:
Iceland volcano:
Indonesia 7.7 earthquake, tsunami, volcano:
New Zealand 7.0 earthquake:
Pakistan floods:
Russia heat wave, fires:
Tennessee floods:

My first project with the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C was the request to create infographics that show that the program has made significant progress toward ending female circumcision in select countries in Africa. We agreed that it was also important to introduce the program and issue in an international context.

From the buckets of raw and inconsistent data they provided, I did the analysis to translate key numbers into a visual story. These were the graphics I created under a tight deadline that introduce the issue and prove the programme’s positive influence.

view press release

(fgm/c = female genital mutilation/cutting)