Best of Data Visualisation
December 17, 2018

Best of Data Visualisation, more faves from #IIBAwards 2018

By Paul Laughlin

Continuing our look at the best of data visualisation, as recognised at this years IIB Awards.

This post continues from our first part, by reviewing my personal selection from the other topic categories. As previously, I may sometimes select bronze or silver finalists. So, I do not always agree with the judges.

My interest is in examples that are helpful to analysts working in business today. I hope these positive examples build on the Data Visualisation resources that we have shared previously. Those were recommended blogs, experts to follow on Twitter & the best Data Viz books.

Anyway, back to the joy of reviewing the beautiful entries showcased at #IIBAwards 2018. Here are my personal selections of the best of data visualisation (by topic category)…

DataViz award – People, Language & Identity

When delivering my own training courses on Data Visualisation, I often sign the praises of “Small Multiples“. Since being recommended by Edward Tufte years ago, more research has supported the effectiveness of this method.

So, for this category, I’m going for one of the two joint bronze winners. A simple but effective set of interactive charts & illustrations embedded into a blog posts. This one addresses the key topic of whether women suffer smaller pockets in their jeans. The team at The Pudding manage to simplify the data & bring the real world reality to life.

The data supports that this frequent grumble is fact based. I like the overlay of outlines & merging to compare averages. Even better is the set of small multiples across brands & styles. The addition of an ability to see how easily (or not) different items fit in these pockets is very helpful.

Good to see simple, practical data visualisation being recognised too. These ideas could be applied in many businesses. Oh & jeans manufacturers might want to adjust their pocket sizes…

Women’s Pockets are Inferior.

Someone clever once said Women were not allowed Someone clever once said Women were not allowed pockets In case they carried leaflets To spread sedition Which means unrest To you & me A grandiose word For commonsense Fairness Kindness Equality So ladies, start sewing Dangerous coats Made of pockets & sedition From Dangerous Coats by Sharon Owens There are few things more frustrating than collecting your belongings only to realize that the pockets in your pants are too small to hold them.

DataViz award – Humanitarian

This is one of the categories that always feels the most important. An opportunity for the skills of Data Visualisation to “speak truth to power“.

Two of the top 3 winners are part of the Reuters Graphics team, which is a testament to that organisation. All three winners are strong examples & tell moving stories of data that matters.

But for this category I agreed with the judges. The gold winner “Life in the Camps” was particularly effective. It very effectively combines aerial photography, map overlays, dot maps & other annotated illustrations.

The reader is provided with both the context  for the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh & a drill-down into key aspects. In fact this is not only a good example of Data Visualisation, but also of storytelling with analytics.

Much to admire in a data visualisation that brings to life both the scale of the problem & practical issues threatening health & safety.

Life in the camps

Overcrowding, poor sanitation and limited health care in the Rohingya refugee areas of Bangladesh is a “recipe for disaster”.

DataViz award – Breaking News

I’ve shared before on how short timescales can still yield effective data visualisations. This category is focussed on that challenge. Here are the best of data visualisation at short notice, to bring to life breaking news.

Although each of the top three are impressive work, especially so quickly, I agree with the judges on Gold winner. I can remember at the time of the Thai Cave rescue news item being grabbed by the use of data visualisation as well as the emerging story.

Those I saw were visualisations by the BBC. However, this data visualisation story from a team at South China Morning Post is very impressive.

Under such pressured deadlines, they have delivered effective use of maps, timelines, column charts & illustrations. Each usefully builds on the others to set the context & then walk readers through different challenges for the rescue.

A fine piece of work, which should inspire those working to tight deadlines in their business. Use of the right basic charts supported by explanatory text can vastly improve understanding. More reasons to have resident data artists in corporations.

How the Thai Cave Rescue Mission Unfolded

On June 23rd, a group of 12 boys from a local soccer team, and their coach, went missing in a cave complex in northern Thailand. The entire world followed th…

DataViz award – Unusual

I couldn’t close this review of the best of data visualisation at IIB Awards 2018, without looking at unusual entries. The late great Hans Rosling taught me to appreciate what a diverse array of objects could be used for Data Viz. This category celebrates such creative thinking.

This year’s top 3 includes the use of 1000s of photos in an interactive installation. Even more amazing are marble runs through medical equipment to bring to life NHS costs.

However, for both creativity & practical relevance to analysts, I prefer the silver winner. This is the work with Play-Doh, yes Play-Doh, by Amy Cesal.  Using this media & an iPhone camera, she creates a wide range of charts & visualisations. One each day in a project called Day Doh.

Once again, a brilliant inspiration for analysts to ‘think outside the box‘ and create the right visualisation quickly. Why not invest in some Play-Doh for your office & see what you could create?

Day Doh Viz – Amy Cesal

Winner of the 2018 Information is Beautiful Silver award in the “Unusual” category. The subjects range from self-disclosing and serious (her personal financial data, government enforcement actions) to delicious and exhilarating (pizza types, top roller coasters). I’ve found the tactile, ephemeral & imprecise nature of Play-Doh – which is so different from the typical data viz technology – to be creatively liberating.

Best of Data Visualisation – what will you do with it?

I hope you enjoyed my two posts reviewing some brilliant examples of data visualisation. Once again thanks to both Information is Beautiful and Kantar for bringing us such a great annual event.

The most important question for you, is what will you now do? Rather than these two posts having just been entertainment, how could you be inspired to improve your own use of Data Viz?

If you are interested in Data Viz training, to get you started, check out this course. Otherwise, I have already published blogs, twitter experts & books to help you continue your journey.

Who knows, perhaps you’ll go on to contribute some of the best of data visualisation to IIB 2019?