This third and final round of the 2014-15 competition is focused on finding data visualisations that have been most successfully used as part of a wider communication strategy.
In many cases, data visualisations are the tip of the iceberg -- or the communications pyramid, if you prefer that analogy. They are designed as entry points into much larger bodies of work. They are good for sharing through social media channels and can help drive traffic back to institutional or project websites.
However, where data visualisations, both static and interactive, are good at helping us to explain data and relationships, they don't often provide much in the way of analysis. A visualised budget might be down year-on-year, but what are the causes of that? Why is that necessarily important?
That's why think tanks don't just publish standalone data visualisations. They also publish reports and analysis. And at the best of times, all of these are packaged together in a relevant communication strategy.
And the winners are...
Instead of awarding a winner and runner up, as we have done for our previous rounds this year, we decided to take a slightly different approach with this round. We have settled on four runners up, each of whom are entitled to a US$500 prize, and no first place winner.
Without further ado, the four runners up, in no particular order, are:
The judges felt that each of these four visualisations merited recognition in different ways.
‘Ecos de México’, for example, is not a particularly complicated data visualisation, but it’s a useful way of quickly communicating a lot of information and also seems to play a key role in a wider communication strategy. The visual is not an end in itself; rather, it is designed to encourage visits to the Ethos website and to support clicks through to the original articles that it attempts to summarise.
For ‘UK government departments by grade composition’, it was quite clear that this one visual is only one small part of a much broader launch of the Whitehall Monitor project. But the visualisation helps to draw in a particular audience. Though one judge did query whether to would reach a very broad audiences, noting: ‘It’s good for technical analysis and as an output from a statistical package, but it lacks a bit of creativity of what could be done with it, and only a technically educated audience would understand it.’
‘Identity crisis’, on the other hand, was an interesting example of where the visualisation WAS the communication strategy, as they explain in one of their introductory videos. In this case, it was about taking a very complex topic and representing it in a clear way to raise awareness.
And finally, ‘Don’t limit HER possibilities!’ was a winner in Round 1. At that time, one of the judge’s comments was: ‘As it stands, the audience is mainly parents [in Georgia] 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.’ But as part of a wider communication strategy to encourage participation in their coding classes, it seems more purposeful.