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Data-visualization: Mind the gap (UNESCO)

In December 2012, Amy Otchet – Head of Communication and Publications at UNESCO Institute for Statistics – offered me to collaborate on a visualization mixing data and game-thinking approach. This was an experiment I already tested with my proposal for the Apps for development Challenge and I was really excited with such an opportunity to take this approach further.

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FROM CONCEPTION TO LAUNCH
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We started with a simple concept consisting on on-boarding the user by letting him/her create his own character and choose his country. From there, the visualization would show a set of data related to the user’s profile, comparing his/her own situation with those of other characters around the world.

During the first phase of the project, we created a storyboard to delineate the scope of the 4 age groups that we wanted to present:

  • Primary education.
  • Secondary education (lower & upper).
  • Tertiary education.
  • Adult age.

During the second phase, together with Simon Normandeau – statistician at UNESCO – we analysed the coverage of the data and decided on the selection of the tables that allow the widest exploration available. In some cases, when the data of the country was missing, we felt back on the regional data to keep as many countries as possible in the visualization.

The design and the animations were all created by Thijs Geritz – freelance graphic designer and animator based in The Hague, Netherlands.

To produce the visualization, we decided to use the latest technology available: JavaScript.
In order to provide the best experience on mobile devices, we also designed a touch-friendly interface.
I used createjs as main library to program the visualization, and Thijs used Zoe and Adobe Flash to generate the animations.

Our team was split between the Netherlands and the Canada and we had to deal with 2 time zones and 6 hours of difference. Despite the distance, we managed to keep a great communication flow and we proudly launched the visualization on the 5th of March, few days before the International Women’s day!

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PREVIEW AND LINK
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The visualization is available in 3 languages: French, Spanish and English and you can see it on:
The website of the Institute for Statistics of UNESCO.



To mark International Women’s Day, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics released an interactive tool to highlight the progress and pitfalls in girls’ and women’s education. This tool uses a game approach to engage a general audience of a wide age range concerning gender disparities in enrollment and transition rates from primary to secondary and tertiary education. Users put themselves into the game by creating their own characters and then compare their situation with those of other characters around the world. They can also explore the data further by using a ‘time machine’ to change the settings of their characters (…).

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