Results of the On Think Tanks Data Visualisation Competition, Round 3

11 December 2013

This is it — the third and final open round of the On Think Tanks Data Visualisation Competition. And what a great round it was! We had 14 entries, which is the most of any of the rounds.

We also had some of the highest voting visualisations in this round, which has been very exciting to see. There were clearly some well crafted ‘get out the vote’ campaigns. In fact, the website received so much traffic, that the voting facility occasionally broke down. As it’s a third-party plug in, we didn’t have much control over that facility — a lesson for next time, for sure. If you tried to vote, but couldn’t, we’d like to thank you for your enthusiasm and apologise for the inconvenience. The good news is, the glitch was the same for all of the visualisations and so they were all similarly disadvantaged.

This week the judges sat down with the top five visualisations with the most votes from this round* and considered who they thought should take home the top spot for this round — along with the cash prize of US$500, as well as which other two visualisations will also be put through to the final round in January 2014. The results are now in, and the winner for this round is…

Mapping Crime in the Czech Republic

The folks at Otevrena spolecnost, o.p.s. will receive US$500 and their visualisation will continue on to the final.

Also joining this visualisation in the final will be Skopje Raste from Reaktor in Macedonia and Who is whose Family in Slovak Courts from Transparency International Slovakia.

The judges would also like to acknowledge the other two entries that were among the most voted — #Mexicoen140 and the Urban Health Atlas. Honestly, the judges would have been happy to have seen any of these five in the final — and it really came down to hair splitting.

So what made Mapping Crime in the Czech Republic stand out? One of the factors was probably the universality of it. One of the judges noted: ‘Actually, I’d love one of those for the UK!’ And I’m sure it’s not just the UK that would benefit from making such information public.

Apparently, the judges aren’t the only one that thinks so: the updated English version of the visualisation was launched halfway through the voting round — and yet it still managed to get voted into the top five. And, as noted in the comments on the page, the visualisation had received over 100,000 unique visitors within just days of the relaunch!

The amount of information obtained in this visualisation is impressive — especially considering how difficult obtaining such information might be in the first place. As another judge put it: ‘It takes the public to the front seat of urban security. I like that it make public information that is often kept secret. This means that discussions on security can be had on the basis of informed arguments.’

Another thought the design was impressive and incredibly professional. The design itself allows for quick comparisons across geographies. And the easy-to-use switches that control the dashboard can really help narrow and focus the charts as per a user’s interest.

Of course, no visualisation is perfect, and the judges thought the percentage of ‘remaining crimes’ slightly let down the visualisation — though we recognised that this was probably more of a problem with the data provided by the government than anything inherently wrong with the visualisation. And although it made this information very open to the public, the policy messages were not necessarily clearly articulated in this visualisation. However, we could imagine a citizen or a decision-maker, or indeed even the police, turning to the visualisation as a resource to help change security practices in particular locations.

The final round will open in mid-January and will take a slightly different format. Of the visualisations already submitted, 10 will be put forward. The ranking provided by the public vote as combined 50:50 with the ranking from the judges will determine overall winners of this competition. So do check back after the holidays to vote!

* Note that Political clientelism – still wasting our money technically was in the top five voting in this Round. As a very similar visualisation already made it through to the final in Round 2 (partly because of confusion on the organiser’s part), the judges have decided not to consider it in this round. However, Expert Forum in Romania will have the opportunity to decide which of the two visualisations it would like to showcase in the final. Similarly, Ethos Public Policy Lab will be given the choice to showcase either their top-five visualisation from this round (#Mexicoen140) or their visualisation from Round 1, Better Life Index, that has already made it to the final.