19.06.2017

Data Visualization

Disseminating data is an integral part of the work of a National Statistical Offices (NSO). With exponential growth in demand in data (volume, frequency and disaggregation) NSOs are trying their best to respond. And yet, evidence of data use, especially among the general public, remains weak.

In some cases, however, the use of new technologies and innovative practices are proving to be useful. To communicate findings, data visualization, in combination with other practices, is gaining tremendous ground ; and NSOs are starting to adapt their relevant outputs. 

The NSDS Guidelines, in its chapter on Data Dissemination, notes that “When data is communicated well, it is easy to appreciate its positive influence on its consumption and therefore development impact driven by it. NSOs may realise this, by supplying to the right audience the right data in the right format. In order to increase the likelihood that a target audience will pay attention and use data made available, one must consider the appropriate timing and channels for delivery and distribution of the data."

PARIS21 has been conducting various training and workshops for NSO staff and journalists on the topic of data visualization. These trainings aim to promote better communication of statistics through effective data story telling and data visualization. They serve as a venue for collaboration between statisticians and users to adopt data visualization tools and ensure their wider use in the statistical system.

Based on the experiences from these trainings, PARIS21 documented the recommendations in the form of a toolkit, which helps data producers better understand how to effectively use data visualization in their work.

Data Visualization Toolkit 

The key concepts/competencies considered useful for successful data visualization and communication can be broken down into the following four sets of domain expertise.

Data storytelling:

  • Narrative
  • Depth
  • Interactivity

Graphic design:

  • Design principles
  • Art elements

Statistical Literacy:

  • Data awareness
  • Statistical concepts
  • Interpretation skills

Software Skills:

  • Obtaining data
  • Understanding data
  • Delivering data

These competencies can be acquired through four training tracks tailored for specific target audiences, summarised in Table below.

Data Visualization: Foundations

Data Communication: Journalist-Statistician Dialogue

Infographics: Information Design

Analystics: Interactive Graphs and Maps

 

Training track overview

 

Training tracks Target audiences Key concepts

1. Data Visualization: Foundations

  • Journalists
  • Statisticians
  • Empirical researchers
  • Graphic designers
  • Data storytelling
  • Graphic design
  • Software Skills
  • Statistical Literacy

2. Communication: Journalist - Statistician Dialogue

  • Journalists
  • Statisticians
  • NSOs Communication Officers
  • Data storytelling
  • Statistical Literacy

3. Infographics: Information Design

  • Journalists
  • Statisticians
  • Students/ Empirical researchers
  • Graphic designers
  • Graphic design
  • Statistical Literacy

4. Analytics: Interactive graphs and maps

  • Statisticians
  • Empirical researchers
  • Software Skills
  • Statistical Literacy

 

Course Levels and Audiences

The following figure maps the four tracks along two dimensions of “participant background” and “group composition”.

The Foundations track is designed for a generalist audience with participants from heterogeneous backgrounds, ranging from journalists to graphic designers and statisticians/ empirical researchers.

The Communication and Infographic tracks require a higher level of specialisation and bring together participants from 2-3 expert areas to establish a dialogue and mutual learning experiences.

Finally, the Analytics track is focused exclusively on statisticians and empirical researchers wishing to deepen their knowledge of data visualization, report writing and workflow of statistical data analysis.