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.

Canadian Debt

Canada, along with Australia, was one of the few Western, industrialised economies to weather the global recession of 2008 fairly well. However in recent years, despite the economic boom in the energy-rich western provinces, many of Canada’s provinces have been accumulating substantial—though not yet crippling—levels of debt. Toronto’s National Post explores the federal and provincial situation using small (or perhaps medium-sized) multiples.

Canada's debt
Canada's debt

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

Fighter Jets

A large-scale infographic with lots of drawings of fighter jets. That’s pretty much what this is. And that’s cool enough for me. The background is that the US fighter programme for the F-35 is increasingly ridiculously expensive and beyond budget. Some nations, like Canada, are starting to have second thoughts. This post outlines potential options and adversaries.

Not all of these aircraft are really options. For example, the US has banned the export of the F-22 and it is highly unlikely that Canada would purchase the Raptor. Will the Russians ever build the PAK FA? They’ve been trying to build them for years and the aircraft has yet to go into production. Regardless of the likelihood of facing the adversaries or procuring the options, they’re still pretty cool illustrations and side-by-side comparisons.

Fighter jet options and adversaries for Canada
Fighter jet options and adversaries for Canada

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathon Rivait, Mike Faille, and Matt Gurney.

The Threat of Climate Change

We are warming the planet. And like ice cubes in a glass of water on a hot summer’s day, Earth’s ice caps will, over the course of centuries, begin to melt and contribute to a rise in sea level. Unfortunately, most of the world’s population lives close to shorelines or the rivers connecting continental interiors to the sea. The world for the generations of children following us may very well look much different than it does today.

The New York Times uses an interactive piece to show how sea level rises will impact coastlines and inland ports in the United States. Using a slider, the user can investigate sea level changes of the expected five feet over the next one to three centuries, or two longer-term scenarios that are not yet certain but possible. Below are a few of the 24 cities and metropolitan areas.

The impacts of a 25-foot rise in sea level
The impacts of a 25-foot rise in sea level

In Philadelphia, a rise of 25 feet inundates South Philly, Old City, Fishtown, Kensington, Port Richmond and the other neighbourhoods close to the Delaware. The Jersey Shore still exists. It has just moved dozens of miles inland. The Cape May Peninsula is well submerged.

Credit for the piece goes to Baden Copeland, Josh Keller, and Bill Marsh.

Merry Christmas

What words are more synonymous with Christmas than data visualisation? Okay, well probably any other words. For most people. But for family, friends, and co-workers I printed my usual infographic Christmas card. But for those of you who only come to my blog, I created a digital, online version.

The printed version of my 2012 Christmas card
The printed version of my 2012 Christmas card

Palestine

With Palestine admitted to the United Nations as a non-member observer state, the Middle East tensions between Israel and Palestine have reached a new level. Regardless, Palestine may now have access to international institutions and is closer to being a recognised, sovereign state. Toronto’s National Post published a large infographic looking at the state of Palestine and how the two non-contiguous territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip compare to each other.

An infographic looking at Palestine
An infographic looking at Palestine

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

More Evidence on Why You (I) Need a Good Night’s Sleep

The Washington Post looks at sleep and how lack thereof may lead to various health problems, including Alzheimers, diabetes, and others. Maybe this means I have a reason to sleep in the mornings now…probably not.

Credit for the piece goes to Bonnie Berkowitz and Alberto Cuadra.

US Healthcare State Exchanges

Later this month the Affordable Care Act mandates states decide on how they wish to implement the state healthcare exchanges. The Guardian’s US interactive team has created this interactive application to track the state decisions. Each state is clickable to provide further details on what has been decided.

Healthcare exchanges
Healthcare exchanges

Credit for the piece goes to the Guardian’s US Interactive Team.

Taxes

Let’s face it, governments need money to function. If you want a large military, you have to fund it. If you want pension system, you have to fund it. If you want medical care for the old, the sick, and the poor, you have to fund it. If you want to give everyone unicorns made of rainbow beams, you have to fund it. And…well…nevermind.

The point is taxes. After an election that focused so heavily on them, we’re still debating them. But here are some facts about them from the New York Times. The designers, Mike Bostock, Matthew Ericson, and Robert Gebeloff used small multiples of line charts—and lots of them—to look at who pays taxes by income band and how they pay different types of taxes. I found particularly interesting the points made near the bottom of the piece about how the progressive tax system is increasingly less so.

How the American tax system is becoming less progressive
How the American tax system is becoming less progressive

But how do these taxes compare to spending? In a separate graphic for the same article, a stacked bar chart compares revenue to expenditure. With the exception of the balanced budget during President Clinton’s administration, we have been outspending our revenue since 1980. While statements to the effect of the US national budget needs to be managed like a US household budget are both overly simplistic and naive, there is a truth in a long-term mismatch between revenue and expenditure might cause problems. That is why many see the deficit and our debt as a medium-term problem facing the United States.

Spending versus revenue
Spending versus revenue

Credit for the first piece goes to Mike Bostock, Matthew Ericson, and Robert Gebeloff.