Traffic Accidents in Philadelphia

I’m working on a set of stories and in the course of that research I came across this article from exploring traffic accident in Philadelphia.

Lots of red there…
Lots of red there…

The big draw for the piece is the heat map for Philadelphia. Of course at this scale the map is pretty much meaningless. Consequently you need to zoom in for any significant insights. This view is of the downtown part of the city and the western neighbourhoods.

A more granular view
A more granular view


As you can see there are obvious stretches of red. As a new resident of the city, I can tell you that you can connect the dots along a few key routes: I-76, I-676, and I-95. That and a few arterial streets.

Now while I do not love the colour palette, the form of the visualisation works. The same cannot be said for other parts of the piece. Yes, there are too many factettes. But…pie charts.


This is the bad kind of pie
This is the bad kind of pie

From a design standpoint, first is the layout. The legend needs to be closer to the actual chart. Two, well, we all know my dislike of pie charts, in particular those with lots of data points, which this piece has. But that gets me to point three. Note that there are so many pieces the pie chart loops round its palette and begins recycling colours. Automotives and unicycles are the same blue. Yep, unicycles. (Also bi- and tricycles, but c’mon, I just want to picture some an accident with a unicycle.)

If you are going to have so many data points in the pie chart, they should be encoded in different colours. Of course, with so many data points, it would be difficult to find so many distinguishable but also not garish colours. But when you get to that point, you might also be at the point where a pie chart is a bad form for the visualisation. If I had the time this morning I would create a quick bar chart to show how it would perform better, but I do not. Trust me, though, it would.

Credit for the piece goes to Michele Tranquilli.

Undocumented Irish Immigrants

You know, I was trying to find a nice and funny graphic that related to the Irish for today since today is St. Patrick’s Day. But, I keep circling back to that piece I posted last year. Because, unfortunately, these are not terribly uplifting times.

We make a great big deal about how we need to enforce deportation orders and build walls to keep out Mexicans and others from Latin America. But, the Irish are a far smaller, but still significant ethnic group that tends to arrive here and stay here in an undocumented fashion.

And somehow—though on this I would love to be wrong—I think the United States would generally make a bigger deal about Peter O’Toole being deported to Donegal than Pedro Toledo to Durango.

The point is that these are all people. And the Statue of Liberty does not say: “Give us your, wealthy, high-points earned on a merit system, looks like you and me, believes like you and me, and ready to contribute to society.”. No, it says, “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Surely that lamp wasn’t meant to flicker only a greenish glow.

That's a lot of people
That’s a lot of people