The UK’s Genetic Clusters

I always enjoy the combination of two of my interests: data visualisation and genealogy. So this BBC article that references a Nature article piqued my interest. It looks at the distribution of DNA across the United Kingdom and identifies different cluster areas. The most important finding is that the Celts, i.e. the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall are not a single genetic group. Another finding of interest to me is that the people of Devon are distinct from both Cornwall and Dorset, Devon’s bordering regions. That interest is because my New England ancestors largely hailed from Devon and Dorset.

The colours don't imply relationships, for what it's worth
The colours don’t imply relationships, for what it’s worth

Credit for the piece goes to the Nature article authors.

Air Traffic over London

Last week, there was a disruption at the air traffic control centre for the United Kingdom. It caused many travel problems. And the BBC included a graphic showing how the problem was shutting down London air space.

Empty skies over London
Empty skies over London

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics department.

Armistice Day

Today is Armistice Day, alternately known as Remembrance Day or Veterans Day. Originally the date remembered the armistice that ended World War I (hence those two names). The war ended at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. But in the preceding years, millions of Europeans died along with just over a hundred thousand Americans. (We entered the war quite late.) This had a dramatic impact on the populations of European countries. In the United Kingdom, the Office of National Statistics put together a page for Remembrance Day 2014 that looks at four charts detailing the changes to the UK’s population structure. Suffice it to say there were lasting effects.

UK population in 1921
UK population in 1921

Credit for the piece goes to the ONS graphics department.

What if Britain Had Won?

A few weeks ago, one of my coworkers, sent me a link to a Newcastle Ale campaign video asking what would America be like if Britain had won the Revolutionary War. Anybody who knows me really well knows I am an Anglophile. I say mobile instead of cell phone, from time to time I switch from apartment to flat or truck to lorry or elevator to lift. So naturally I checked out the campaign site and what did I find? A map of place names if the Americans had not won the war. You can search for your residence or hometown and see what the Brits would have named it.

Though this ignores the fact that most of where I am from was actually named by the Brits. West Chester was originally called Turk’s Head, but after the a bunch of boundary changes that separated the British named Chester from my area, Turk’s Head was renamed West Chester because it is west of Chester, located on the Delaware River. Anyway, place names are cool. Happy Friday, everybody.

I would have grown up in West Chesterwich
I would have grown up in West Chesterwich

Credit for the piece goes to the design team behind the ad campaign.

How British is Great Britain?

Well, you will have to click through to the article for that data visualisation. But, I will provide you with the choropleth map of national identities. That is, how English do citizens in English authorities consider themselves? Scottish in Scotland? Welsh in Wales?

Strengths of national identities in Great Britain
Strengths of national identities in Great Britain

Credit for the piece goes to Mark Easton.

All in the Family (and the Friends and the Neighbours)

Recently my hobby of my family’s history has focused on my Rusyn (or Ruthenian) roots. However, this recent work out of Stanford University piques my interest in my English heritage, even though much of it is very far back in time. Using my 23 × great-grandfather Reynold de Mohun you can begin to see how it links persons within families, how those lives intersected over time, and the geographical areas where that person lived. In Reynold’s case, it was the 12th–13th centuries in Somerset, England.

Reynold de Mohun
Reynold de Mohun

But as the title kindred implies, this piece is not just about direct family connections, but also the marriages and close cultural links between certainly the elite of British society. Below is how Reynold is connected to King William I, better known as William the Conqueror.

Connecting Reynold de Mohun to William I
Connecting Reynold de Mohun to William I

Family history or genealogy is a topic ripe for data visualisation and information design because it is all about connections. But I have found beyond the common family tree diagram little interesting has been created. This work is a solid start in the right direction.

Credit for the piece goes to Nicholas Jenkins, Elijah Meeks, and Scott Murray.

Queue for the British Throne

So apparently a baby was born in London…as was another who is likely to become the future King of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland (not of England). But the British love their queues and so this infant will have to wait in line just like everyone else (in the royal line of succession). The Economist visualised just how long these waits have been for English and British monarch vis-a-vis their time spent on the throne.

The Queue for the British throne
The Queue for the British throne

Credit for the piece goes to R.L.W. and G.D.

British Trident System

The United Kingdom is one of eight, probably nine nuclear powers. (Israel has never confirmed that it has tested/operates nuclear weapons.) Unlike most countries, the UK only uses one delivery system to operate its weapons: submarines using Trident ballistic missiles.

A triad power is a country with all three delivery systems
A triad power is a country with all three delivery systems

The British Trident system became an issue in the coalition government. While it was supported by both the previous Labour government and the Conservatives, the programme had to be reviewed per the coalition agreement. The review has been completed and it will be made public. But to explain to the public how Trident works, the BBC created this graphic. It does a really good job of showing the reach of the British submarines from one location, but then showing why an adequate replacement would need at least three to four submarines.

The British Trident programme
The British Trident programme

Credit for the Trident graphic goes to the BBC. The table is my own work.

England and Wales: 500k More People Than Expected

Census data fascinates me from a data visualisation perspective; one can look at it so many different ways. Last week I looked at some of the Slovakian census data on the Carpatho-Rusyns that live in the northeastern mountains of Slovakia. But yesterday, the British Office of National Statistics released the results from their census of England and Wales (Scotland reports later and Northern Ireland did so already, yay devolution.) One of the big news stories was that England and Wales had 500,000 more people than had been expected. That doesn’t sound like a lot of people, but to put it roughly into American proportions, that would be like finding that there was a whole new city the size of Chicago somewhere in the United States.

But while many organisations and individuals will certainly be looking at the census data in the coming days, weeks, and months, the ONS released its own interactive application. Basically it looks at the population pyramid for England and Wales from 1911 to 2011, a century’s worth of data. But what makes this different from the GE population pyramids, for example, is the context that the ONS has added that strict data pulls lack.

1921 pyramid
1921 pyramid

Here in 1921, rolling over a particular cohort reveals the details of those aged 30 in 1921. There is a clear difference between the number of men and women. But why? The text block’s first note details how 700,000 men aged 20–40 died during World War I and thus altered the basic structure of the English and Welsh population.

1951 pyramid
1951 pyramid

And in 1951 we begin to look at the British baby boom in the post-war era. Again, while the Baby Boom might be expected, the ONS also points out that the NHS, the British National Health Service, had also recently started and was positively affecting life expectancy and the general health of the British public. These are again things that would not likely appear in more data-focused pieces.

But everybody loves to compare things to other things. So, the ONS also released a more data-focused application that allows the user to select two different census geographies and compare them. This is more as one would expect, comparing overlays vs. side-by-side looks at different population pyramids. The example below compares London to Birmingham.

Credit for the pieces go to the ONS Visualisation Centre.

God Save the Queen

For the Queen’s Jubilee I had been looking for a good infographic or two about how the United Kingdom had changed over the length of her reign, at least thus far. Alas, I found not a great deal of substantial work. This is an infographic from the Guardian that looks at quite a few single figures.

But it also has a map looking at the decline/unravelling of the British Empire.

Decline of the British Empire
Decline of the British Empire

God Save the Queen.