In the 2014-15 competition, we targeted each of the rounds. This first round was open only to static visualisations. This is because, as we've said before, there is a beauty in simplicity. Advances in technology have empowered many people to start creating data visualisations. But technology alone does not an effective data visualisation make!
Round 1 winner
There are two surprising things about this visualisation that make it so compelling: one is the manner of telling. The judges really appreciated the use of photography woven into the visualisation. It helps to round out a story that has strong foundations in the data.
As one judge put it:
'Combining photos and charts livens up the visualisation and creates much more "personalised" effect drawing the viewership into the issue. I've also appreciated how the visualisation draws reader into the story, which unrolls as one scrolls."
And indeed that is the other surprise in the visualisation: the stark reality of differential achievement between boys and girls in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects in the Eurasian country of Georgia.
While the visualisation does draw out the implications in terms of Georgian firms not finding suitably skilled workers, the judges did feel that a policy recommendation or implication could have been more specifically teased out. As it stands, the audience is mainly parents and ensuring they continue to support their daughters in these areas. That hits on a key cultural point, but doesn't necessarily pass muster as a policy recommendation.
Another judge noted that, when it comes to the first set of data actually visualised, 'the title for the first section would more appropriately be "girls and boys both score about the same on tests", which is the point of the chart. This would help better to set the scene of the story.'
But despite this minor feedback, the strong design aesthetic and the compelling story made it the overall winner. Well done, JumpStart!
The judges were in strong agreement that, even if it didn't win, this visualisation on illegal mining activities across countries in the Amazon should be recognised as an excellent example of what static visualisations can be when done right. As one judge noted:
I love the design overall. It does a great job at combining a number of different ways of conveying information, while still telling a story. It sets the scene with the map, it includes pictures, it includes charts, and it really highlights the problem in Peru as compared to its neighbouring countries. I also really like that it takes a technical or environmental issue and draws out clear social implications.
Similar to the winning visualisation, several of the judges felt the policy recommendation was unclear. One suggested that: 'Very few data visualisations go beyond presenting the data in compelling form. If the organisation involved engages in policy advocacy, it should find ways to weave in its demands and highlight evidence-informed policy actions that are needed.'
There was also some confusion among the non-Spanish speaking judges about what exactly the map was trying to convey, though some were particularly impressed that: 'I am not a Spanish language speaker but I fully understood the storyline, the data being presented.'