Data-Smart City Solutions RePost — Map Monday: Beyond Floods

People tend not to think that bad things will happen to them. This psychological proclivity towards optimism—logically termed “optimism bias”—is in many ways a beneficial feature of the human psyche, as most live better lives when they’re not constantly obsessing over the possibility of some calamity befalling them.

However, the optimism bias also has its disadvantages, as it may discourage people from preparing for emergencies. This was the case during Hurricane Sandy, during which 77 percent of New Yorkers reported that inland flooding was much higher than they expected. In New York City alone, the storm damaged 90,000 buildings, created $19 billion in damage,and killed nearly 50 people.

Chris Bousquet, a Research Assistant and Writer with Harvard’s Ash Center, explores how data sharing can influence human action through the Beyond Floods CARTO platform.

Read more here.

Accountability and Media Data Wonk Featured

Evergreen Data ReBlog: Is Feminist Data Visualization Actually a Thing? (Yes, and How!)

How can data visualization be feminist? Data is data — it speaks for itself.

A charming idea, to be sure. But it just ain’t true. Feminist data visualization is (and must be) a thing because data, data analysis, and data visualization are never neutral. The premise that, if handled correctly, data can present neutral evidence, is deeply flawed. Culture is embedded into our data at every stage.

As long as humans have been thinking about data viz, we’ve been projecting our worldview onto it.

Guest poster Heather Krause with Datassist discusses the concepts underlying feminist data visualization, how different cultures interpret data, and what data scientists and researchers can do to account for these differences in world view when collecting, analyzing, and presenting information.

Read more here.

Accountability and Media Data Wonk

Evergreen Data ReBlog: Color Psychology

As I usually do in my workshops, I talked to a group in Warsaw, Poland about how we should use color intentionally in our data visualization and that, in fact, the color choice itself can help us tell our story. I prepared a little activity around this issue, in which I asked them to generate a list of the words, phrases, feelings, memories, etc that come to mind when seeing this color:

 

Apart from “very yellow,” what words and phrases come to mind when you see this color? Do you have a positive or negative association to it?

You may be surprised to learn that auditors themselves don’t see the world in stark black and white, and we enjoy a dash of color just as much as the next person. Within reason, of course. (And for the record, our words are ‘sunflower,’ ‘sparky,’ and ‘neon sign.’) But what influence does color have on our perception, and how does that apply to our work?

Stephanie Evergreen explores the influence of colors on our psychological state, and ponders how they can best be used in data visualization. Read more here, or explore the psychology of color in more in-depth here.

Accountability and Media Featured

Data-Smart City Solutions RePost – From prosaic to personal: transforming city data through art

Through media like visual art, fiction, and even food, artists have sought to transform static data points into vibrant and immersive experiences. In some cases, governments have commissioned these artists to produce pieces that promote resident engagement with data and other works that leverage data to bring residents into the physical city. In others, artists have independently produced data-inspired works that governments would do well to publicize and examine as potentially valuable sources of information. These works have given data another mouthpiece, made digital engagement an active experience, and provided governments with critical information on their data practices.

Importantly, art that uses data as a subject has a different goal than data visualization, which seeks to display data in a more digestible format to facilitate easier analysis. Art moves past first-order insights from data to establish an emotional connection with viewers and unlock personal, embedded meanings not accessible through quantitative analysis.

Chris Bousquet with Data-Smart City Solutions shares some vivid examples of how impersonal quantitative data can intersect with art to connect with the audience on both logical and emotional levels. Read more here.

Accountability and Media Featured

LinkedIn Repost – Visualizing Survey Results: Crowded Agree-Disagree Scales

There’s more than one way to visualize those agree-disagree survey scales.

Information Designer Ann Emery explores different ways to visualize agree-disagree scale survey results, and how survey feedback can be used to support a message.

Depending on what message you are trying to get across to your audience, one of the above graphs may underline the message, while the other graph undermines it (and vice versa).

Read more here.

Accountability and Media Featured

Stephanie Evergreen ReBlog: Qualitative Data Visualization (Gauge Diagram)

When we debuted our Qualitative Chart Chooser last November, we promised to dive into detail on specific visualizations, so let’s kick it off by discussing how and when to use one of the most derided charts of all: the gauge diagram.

I don’t know about your office, but we at OAD have a word for qualitative data: squishy. It’s squishy, and it’s smooshy. It’s sometimes indirect, and can be a real challenge to measure. Nevertheless, some of the most vital and telling information and evidence you can get might be squishy, smooshy, indirect, qualitative data. Interviews and long-winded answers to open-ended survey questions can provide context you just can’t get from pulling numbers out of a database, and can fill in those gaps of understanding left after a document review.

But how do you capture that in easily digestible picture form?

Jennifer Lyons, in a follow up guest post for Evergreen Data, breaks down one way to present qualitative data. Read more here!

Accountability and Media Data Wonk Featured

Speaking Truth to Power (Users): Why data visualization matters to researchers, auditors, and program evaluators

“I’m not a data visualization expert, but I am a data visualization enthusiast” Rebecca Brinkley joked as she started her presentation on including visual elements in reports to the State of Oregon Research Academy (SORA).  Several dozen researchers from around the state listened intently as she walked through the importance of including visual elements and gave examples from recent audit reports from the Oregon Audits Division.

Why Visuals Matter

“Our brains are visual processors not word processors” explained Rebecca Brinkley. Most people think visually rather than verbally.  Furthermore, visuals have been found to be processed at a much higher rate than text alone.  The visual elements help the reader process complex information and improve retention.

Many times visuals can help tell a story or make a connection that would be more difficult to do using text. For example, Rebecca highlighted this image of the water cycle in a recent report on water management in Oregon.

waikato

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather see this image describing the water cycle than reading a long paragraph describing the water cycle.

We will be highlighting some more example of useful data visualization techniques in future blog posts.

Rebecca will also be presenting to the Pacific Northwest Intergovernmental Audit Forum in March.

Ian Green, CGAP and OAD Senior Auditor

Ian Green, CGAP and OAD Senior Auditor

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