Visualising our data

Today Amnesty International published its annual death penalty report. To run through the headline statistics; at least 2,390 people were executed in 25 countries last year, which is almost double the number from last year’s report. China executed 72% of these and Belarus is the last country in Europe to use this inhumane punishment. On average, 7 people were executed every day in 2008.

The report itself offers an in-depth view on the numbers of people sentenced to execution and killed throughout the last year. It’s a bank of numbers that provides a snapshot into one aspect of worldwide human rights.

As a webteam, our challenge is translating these statistics, numbers and personal testimony into an engaging piece of content that makes the report accessible and understandable.

A simple way to progress would be the creation of more charts and graphs, much like this example from The Independent that breaks a huge amount of data down into three understandable graphics.

With sites such as Daytum emerging, producing attractive graphs such as these is becoming much more realistic for those of us without advanced photoshop or flash skills. Beyond these basic graphs though, I’ve been coming across more and more interactive map-based data visualisations.

Take Breathing Earth for instance. An interactive map that displays real-time C02 emissions as well as birth and death rates, making the scale of the problems our planet is facing instantly more tangible.

Then there are sites like Social Weather Mapping, Informapping or Ushahidi, which take online and user-generated content and place it in context on a map. Each of these sites demonstrates an exciting new way of displaying data, as well as innovating in how that data is collected.

This sort of interactive data visualisation may still be a long way off for us, but it’s something we’re excited about exploring. I’d love to hear what you think of our map, any other examples you know of, or just where you think we should be taking these ideas next…

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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