The Task: We partnered with GE to create a bold, intellectually engaging, and visually striking data visualization that shows relationships between variables around global trade. Executing the concept involved an agile design and development process to incorporate our data, and then creatively match the design and interactivity.
We needed to create a design to educate and entertain a broad audience, while also keeping experts and high-level decision makers in mind.
The Concept: Business and trade are complex issues that impact, and are impacted by many variables. This visualization allows you to explore relationships between trade, economic, and quality of life variables across the globe. In order to visualize those relationships, we analyzed and combined several publicly available global data sets from trusted sources.
1) Data Analysis: We started by analyzing a number of global data sets to identify trends and relationships between variables and start to articulate how they would be visualized.
To compare data across multiple variables and scales (ex.: days, steps, financial values), we standardized the data to identify the relationships within and between values.
We then normalized, centered, and scaled the data so that each variable has a mean of zero (0) and standard deviation of one (1). No data is changed or altered in this process; it is simply standardized on a common scale, to isolate the relationships between variables.
The final visualization pulls from five global source-data sets from 2011, including: Global Imports & Exports (UN Commodity Trade Statistics DB), Global GDP (World Bank), Ease of Doing Business Index (World Bank), Global Competitiveness Index (World Economic Forum), and the Human Development Index (United Nations).
2) Comparing Relationships: After the data was normalized, centered, and scaled, we were able to identify and compare relationships between variables.
To simplify and more clearly show comparisons between countries, we grouped countries into quartiles based on performance level per variable. Each country falls into the first, second, third, or fourth quartile (bottom 25% to top 25%) for each variable, which can then be compared to all other countries on a simple and common performance basis.
3) Visualizing Outcomes: Based on the data values and level of performance per country for each variable by quartile, we visualized the outcomes for each country and how it compares to other countries around the world. The visualization is a tool that allows you to explore and identify those relationships, for different countries, groups, and variables.
The Product: The final product is an interactive storytelling device that illustrates the essential roll that trade and vibrant competition has on improving the world’s economy.
Complex global data sets are consolidated into a simple interface that allows for exploration and identification of relationships between trade, economy, and quality of life across a number of variables.
We were thrilled to work with GE to bring their vision to life, and always enjoy the challenge of making big data easy to see and simple to understand.