Data Journalism Awards – whodunits in Spain, business in Brazil and bus subsidies in Argentina

Three solid entries from Spain, Brazil and Argentina are among the 58 nominees featured in the first-ever international competition for data journalism, the Data Journalism awards. The awards, announced by the Global Editors Network, will be announced on May 31. In the meantime, keep your eye on these three nominees:

La trama de la SGAE,” from El Mundo’s Spanish designer David Alameda, covers last year’s “Operation Saga,” an undercover investigation of fraudulent financial activities conducted by the president and other members of Spain’s influential Society of Authors and Editors (SGAE). This piece boils down the complex network of who gave money to whom, how much and when into one of the best examples of interactive flowcharts that I’ve seen. As with the best data visualizations, this interactive avoids the many common mis-steps that could have occurred through the overuse of photos, text, talking heads, etc. Instead, Alameda keeps his focus–and ours–on a tightly scripted interactive that guides the user quickly and efficiently through the web of financial whodunits.

La trama de la SGAE interactive

2011 Brazil State-Level Business Environment Ranking ranks the country’s business environment along eight categories (ranging from the political climate to innovation) and a series of indicators specific to each category. The interface is clean and simple to understand. Navigation, categories and indicators are well-prioritized and intuitive. One of my favorite features is the linked rollover behaviour between all four elements on the screen: a regional map, a deeper state-specific map, a regional bar graph and an overall scoring graph. A lot of information packed into a clean, well-designed interactive.

Brazil State-level business environment ranking

Lastly, Argentina’s La Nación is doing great stuff with open data. By my calculations, given that the country ranks sixth of 12 South American countries (and 92nd out of 142 economies globally, according to the recent Global Information and Technology Report’s Networked Readiness Index), this is a telling example of how Argentina’s relatively advanced use of information and communication technologies seem to be paying off, even if its government doesn’t always play along.

La Nación’s Subsidies for the Bus Transportation System is not so much a data visualization as a series of efforts to use open data to report on how bus subsidies in Argentina are being conducted. Dig a little and you’ll find a few good infographicsinvestigative pieces that detail a government’s efforts to be less than transparent about dollar figures, and an encouraging collaboration between the newspaper and Junar’s open data platform to create a Tableau dashboard that is beginning to circumvent Argentina’s lack of open data infrastructure. Interestingly, the newspaper compares its early efforts to the U.S.’s Freedom of Information Act laws and the American government’s data.gov platform. The dashboard presents a snapshot of indicators key to Argentina  (ranging from crime and accident rates to political indicators and legislative data). It’s a promising approach that may help other countries (like Bolivia) with similar challenges (see related article on Bolivia’s recent technology rankings).

La Nación open data dashboard

 

 

Conflict underground: What’s up with Argentina’s subways (infographic)

La Nación, a newspaper in Argentina, created an infographic about problems plaguing the “subte” (subway). Some problems are universal, aren’t they? I think it’s safe to say that anyone on the planet with access to trains and airplanes is bound to complain about both.

In “Los conflictos bajo tierra” (“Conflict underground”) the designer, Florencia Abd, was tasked with showing–on which hours, days and months during the year–subway service was disrupted by four types of labor strikes: a work stoppage across all lines (red), a stoppage for one line only (black), a suspension of card renewals (yellow), and the closure of entrance/exit turnstiles (blue).

Take a look at how nicely the designer solved the logistical nightmare (pun intended, sort of) in laying out various levels of time (hours, days, months and peak travel times) as well as frequency (how often problems occurred) and categorization (which types of problems). It’s a terrific infographic–simplifies complex data in a way that is immediately easy to understand.

I’d love to hear how others would redesign this very, very good infographic. It begs a few different approaches.

La Nacion Conflictos Bajo Tierra

 

Time travel in Argentina: a new take on interactive timelines

Argentina. Alfajores, Maradona, steak and tango? Yes. A burgeoning data visualization community? Yep. In my occasionally quixotic quest to find out what data viz developers are up to in Latin America, I stumbled across Hacks | Hackers – Buenos Aires.

It seems that they’re drumming up some interesting projects, though nothing concrete to date, though I am looking forward to writing more about their progress. That said, Sandra Crucianelli, a recipient of the noted Knight Foundation fellowship, presented some terrific examples of data visualization projects in Latin America.

One worth mentioning is Proyecto Walsh, an interactive timeline/journalistic experiment which recreates Rodolfo Walsh’s 1956-57 expose on the illegal executions of Peron sympathizers, “Operación Masacre” (Operation Massacre) as an interactive timeline. Well, it’s much more than an interactive timeline but, to me, the timeline is a great hook.

The zoom feature on the interactive timeline, which most of us are more used to seeing in spatial relationships on maps (think: zoom to your house or zoom away to view a city) is used temporally (think: zooming in to a minute; zooming out to a month).

Conceived by journalists Alvaro Liuzzi and Vanina Berghella, this project uses this slick timeline feature as effective navigation through various layers of multimedia, ranging from interactive maps using, of course, Google Maps, to a photo gallery using the Google image search function. It’s fairly complex, and tells the story well. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, it’s worth exploring.

Proyecto Walsh

Proyecto Walsh