Whence Chicago’s Guns Came

Chicago has crime problems. Specifically homicides and gun-related crimes. This is despite the fact that Chicago has some of the strictest gun regulations in the country. But over the last decade, the Chicago Police Department has collected nearly 50,000 guns (excluding buybacks and turn-ins) of which nearly half originated from outside the state. The map below comes from an infographic by the New York Times that traces the origins of those guns.

Whence the guns came
Whence the guns came

Particularly useful are the small maps that accompany this larger one. The first looks at the Chicago metropolitan area, the second the country as a whole with counties filled-in if even one gun originated there, and then the third looks at Mississippi.

Credit for the piece goes to Kevin Quealy and Tim Wallace.

Where in the World is the Secretary of State?

On Friday Hillary Clinton steps down as Secretary of State to (likely) be replaced by John Kerry whose confirmation votes will (likely) be later this week. One of the big roles for the Secretary of State is to travel abroad and represent the United States. If secretaries go where the US needs to be represented, that would imply that some states are more important for foreign visits. So has there been a shift in priorities in recent years?

In this interactive piece the Washington Post looks at where James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, and Hillary Clinton visited during their tenure at Foggy Bottom. The screen shots below only show the maps—there are very useful tables for finding data on trips to specific countries—for Baker and Clinton and comparing the two. The shift from the European/Cold War mentality is quite pronounced.

James Baker's trips abroad
James Baker's trips abroad
Hillary Clinton's trips abroad
Hillary Clinton's trips abroad

Credit for the piece goes to Emily Chow and Glenn Kessler.

The Sky Is Falling…No…Wait…It’s Just a Dream(liner)

Boeing has been having some problems with its new aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner from cracked windshields to oil leaks to perhaps most problematic battery problems. Over the course of the last week, the New York Times has published a series of small graphics to complement stories about the problems and the investigations.

The first graphic looked at the Dreamliner and where its batteries are located. Unfortunately for Boeing, the Dreamliner is critical to its success moving forward and the remainder of the graphic shows just how important.

The importance of the Dreamliner
The importance of the Dreamliner

The next day a graphic about total deaths on US airline flights supported a piece about the Dreamliner.

Fatalities aboard US flights
Fatalities aboard US flights

Then yesterday the NYT published a graphic about the specific battery type (lithium ion) and what role it played in aircraft incidents, be them cargo or passenger related.

Battery incidents
Battery incidents

Operation Serval

The tricky part about doing an infographic on a current event, like the conflict/war in northern Mali, is to keep the graphics updated and timely. Alas, I don’t have the necessary amount of time to do that. But, I still do want decent graphics explaining just what is happening.

With Mali, the hard part is that the Islamist/Tuareg rebellion against the democracy-overthrowing military government originally backed by the US in an attempt to beef up that military against the rebellion that then defeated that military is so far away and so foreign to much of the American public that so very much needs to be explained and be made relevant. This piece of mine doesn’t quite do that, but my infographic does attempt to show that France is now fighting a war far from its shores (and largely on its own). It also tries to highlight the fluidity of the ground war, especially around the fighting in and around Konna. Konna is the gateway to the city of Mopti which leads straight to the capital Bamako.

Operation Serval
Operation Serval

Follow the (Canadian Foreign Aid) Money

Canada spends quite a bit of money on foreign aid. Last week a National Post infographic looked at the targets for that aid program and in particular highlighted Haiti, a country that has received large sums after the devastating earthquake three years ago.

Canadian foreign aid
Canadian foreign aid

Credit for the piece goes to Kathryn Blaze Carlson, Mike Faille, and Richard Johnson.

2012 Was the Hottest Year on Record

2012 was the hottest year since 1895. That’s 117 years by my count. Of course just being the hottest year ever recorded does not mean everywhere was warmer than usual. Some places were cooler. And the New York Times looked at the US pattern of warmer and cooler than average temperatures. Below the map are small multiples of charts recording the number of days above or below the normal for that day.

That's a lot of warmer than average temperatures…
That's a lot of warmer than average temperatures…

And for anecdotal evidence, I will say that this past summer was godawfully hot in Chicago.

Congressional Redistricting

The New York Times looks at who controlled the redistricting of US congressional seats because of the 2010 census. It then showed an example in North Carolina where Republican control led to the state being less competitive in the past for Democrats. In 2010, Democrats held 7/13 seats in North Carolina. But after the redistricting, in 2012 the Democrats held only 4/13. And all of this is done in a small, compact space. This is a very effective graphic.

Redistricting
Redistricting

Credit for the piece goes to Tom Giratikanon.

Healthy Living

Yesterday the Washington Post published an article and an accompanying interactive infographic on life expectancy. But not just how long one can expect to live, but also how long one can expect to live in good health. What makes the piece particularly nice and effective are the annotations that explain some of the data points, in particular the outlier of Haitian males.

Life expectancies
Life expectancies

Credit for the piece goes to Bonnie Berkowitz, Emily Chow, and Todd Lindeman.

England and Wales Census Results

Earlier this week, the Office of National Statistics in the United Kingdom released census results for England and Wales. (Northern Ireland and Scotland are reported separately.) England has more people than expected, most likely because of undercounting of immigrants, and Wales is now some three million and counting. There are fewer Christians than expected—and fewer Jedi than I expected—as the ranks of the non-religious grow. But from of course all of this comes a bevy of visualisations. These are but a few, but if anybody finds others worth nothing, please feel free to send them my way.

Straight from the source is a set of interactive mapping applications from ONS that compare 2001 data to 2011 data. As best it can, census districts are compared on a one-to-one basis, but with boundary changes that isn’t always possible. Clicking on district provides one with details about the responses for that area.

% Christian across England and Wales
% Christian across England and Wales
% Christian in North Devon
% Christian in North Devon

Perhaps the one thing missing from these—and it may well owe to the aforementioned boundary changes—is a map of changes to see which areas have been most impacted. Or a map of the results compared to the average to see where the average can be found and where the positive and negative extremes can be found.

An infographic from the Guardian looks at the overall dataset with quite a few maps and then circle-y things. While the large map is the white population in 2011, the remaining maps are before and after comparisons. Again, an interesting look would have been perhaps deviations from the average or of the actual change per district.

UK Census results visualised
UK Census results visualised

I appreciate the impact of the main story, the increasing diversity of England and, to a lesser extent, Wales. London in particular is now minority white. However, I am less keen on the circle-y things and that data could probably have been presented in a clearer, more direct fashion. I am not a fan of red, yellow, and green traffic light colours, but I also recognise that the Guardian is working within their brand on this.

Unfortunately this interactive map of Northern Ireland’s national identity does not quite work for me. I appreciate the toggle between the different response options, however, I find the responses themselves hard to compare. The colours remain the same, but the scales for the results change. For those identifying as Northern Irish, the top value is clearly less than those identifying as either British or Irish. But I would have liked to have seen the scales for British and Irish to closer match. I also find the black background distracting and overwhelming the colours. I wonder how the result would have worked if treated with the above aesthetic.

British identity in Northern Ireland
British identity in Northern Ireland

The BBC took a stab too with a section devoted to the results. Unlike the ONS visualisation above, however, the side-by-side comparison is forced to be smaller with the included text. And when one zooms into a particular district, the map degrades into crude polygons—a particular pet peeve of mine—that would be unrecognisable to someone familiar with the intimate geographic details of their home region. (Yes, simple shapes make the files smaller for overview maps, but when seen up-close, they lose their value by making ugly maps.) Also, the colours and bins in this particular view are not as informative as in the view above.

Christianity in England and Wales
Christianity in England and Wales
Christianity in North Devon
Christianity in North Devon

The BBC, however, did create a small graphic for an article that showed population changes in the districts, alas the colours did not work as well as one would hope.

Population Change
Population Change

That’s a lot for people to digest, but, overall I think the clearest visualisations go to the ONS. They lack the commentary that can be brought by journalism organisations, e.g. the BBC, but one needs a clear and powerful visualisation before one can start writing an analysis.

Credit for the ONS results goes to the ONS Data Visualisation Centre, for the Guardian infographic credit goes to Paul Scruton and Mark McCormick, for the Northern Ireland piece credit goes to John Burn-Murdoch, and credit for the BBC goes to the BBC.