Data is not useful until it becomes information. Turning raw numbers into a visual representation can help us understand meaning and connections much more quickly.
The Dublinked project has taken this into account and provides a showcase for people to post their visualisations of open data. For example the Irish Property Price Map shows all property sales registered in Ireland on an interactive map so you can view the price paid at a certain address. The availability of open data supports the move towards evidence based decision making. It also means that public data can be monitored or mapped to visualise performance.
But visualisation is just the starting point. Layering of information and analysis of the underlying patterns can uncover the story in the data. Recently, census ‘small area’ data was merged with the Pobal HP Deprivation Index and transposed into colour coded maps to depict Ireland’s affluent and deprived districts. The Irish Times used these maps as inspiration for a series of articles to show how the recession has affected all areas of society. Through this kind of storytelling people can understand complex statistical data and engage on a personal level.
As other people look at our data in unexpected ways, they tell us new stories about what is going on in the city and this can provide the motivation to bring about change.