9 memorable data visualizations of 2015! A look back

One must admit that with each passing day, the field of data visualizations is getting more exciting. Far more than the powers of data analytics behind it, it is the beautiful and innovative powers of human analysis that is giving wings to these visualizations. As we culminate the year 2015, I take this opportunity to look back at the year and acknowledge some breath-taking data visualizations that really viewed the world of data in ways not seen before.

London Food Hygiene
London Food Hygiene is a brilliant example of open data visualization. Some also see it as a window of how future mapping applications should look like. It is built on open data from Food Standards Agency, the UK’s food safety regulator, and OpenStreetMap, an open source mapping platform. Developed by Liam Curley, a UK-based online marketer, the mapping plots the hygiene levels of businesses that serve food in London, by star rating, food type and serving business type. Users can zoom into the map and get food hygiene details for each service business location. For the health conscious customer, this is a steal.

London Food Hygiene

Source: visual.ly

 

The Impact of Vaccines
There is something very intriguing about visualizing impacts of scientific interventions over a historical timeline. Perhaps the beauty lies in how succinctly such maps summarize and decode the impact of human interventions. Earlier this year, Wall Street Journal published a series of heat maps depicting the manner in which diagnosis cases for a number of diseases such as measles and polio plummeted (in US states) after their respective vaccine introduction. For all the complex challenges that lie for the medicine community, this visualization gives another reason to thank them for their past successes.

Impact of Vaccines

Source: Wall Street Journal

 

The 3D Yield Curve
This 3D graph is, perhaps, one of the most talked about financial data visualization of the year. Published by the New York Times, this rotatable data visualization shows the cost of borrowing for the federal government, emphasizing the relationship between long- and short-term interest rates. Presented as a series of views with analysis, this is a treat to the eye. If somebody needed convincing why 3D charts would be better than their 2D counterparts, here is the answer.

Yield Curve

Source: New York Times

 

A Day in the Life of Americans
This data visualization published by Flowing Data is an interesting and innovative way to look at the life and daily activities of Americans. Using the open data from American Time Use Survey from 2014, the animated visualization uses tabulated transition probabilities for one activity to another (of an average American) for every minute of the day. And this particular element makes this visualization enthralling!

Day in American Life

Source: Flowing Data

 

Drought and California Water Use
California, facing droughts in the recent past, has been working on ways to optimize water consumption. New York Times, earlier this year, showed an interactive map that visualized city-level water usage data for the past two years. What is mesmerizing about this map is the wealth of information presented, in addition to easily deducible analysis, from one single image. For its sheer usefulness and simplicity, this makes it to the list here.

California Water Use

Source: New York Times

 

The US Brewery Road Trip
Published by Flowing Data, this data visualization is a treat for beer lovers in the US. The map builds a single optimal road trip that allows for best brewery visits (out of approx. 3,400 total breweries) across the country in least miles possible. Believe it or not, but if the idea is merely to sample the best beers, this entire trip will take only 20 days. Bracing up for a future where algorithms shall build our travel itineraries!

US Brewery Road Trip

Source: Flowing Data

 

No Ceilings: Gender Equality
Developed by Fathom Information Design for Clinton and Gates Foundation, this visualization explores the data of over a million data points to assess the progresses and setbacks to global movement for gender equality. The comparison has been made on the parameters of health, education, economic participation, and social inclusion. Everything about this visualization ranging from synthesizing the global data points to the insightful analysis is worth appreciating.

No Ceilings

Source: Fathom Information Design

 

Trees of the World
Tulp interactive developed this visualization of trees across the world for the Nature magazine. Apart from making it to the cover of the Nature magazine, this visualization was also presented as a video animation. Using a distinct algorithm for mapping open data with on the map tree density, this visualization has been built. For the never before seen value, this deserves a place here.

Trees of the World

Source: Nature

 

The Uber Effect
Some data visualizations just win us for the sheer simplicity they use to drive home big inferences. This data visualization from Five Thirty Eight is one such example. Mapping annual data points of Uber and taxi pick-ups in Manhattan NY, it argues whether Uber is actually eating into the taxi business or helping it? Please help yourself make that inference below.

Uber vs Taxi

Source: Five Thirty Eight

Anubhav is a data scientist who works and writes on new big data decision sciences models and their application in key business areas across industries. Anubhav also tracks the industry developments. He can be reached at anubhav@thinkbigdata.in

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