AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Feb/11

7

DVR Week: Chris Lysy on Data Sources that Embrace Data Visualization

My name is Chris Lysy and I am a Research Analyst at Westat. I am the creator of EvalCentral and I also blog at Fresh Spectrum. Additionally, you can find me on Twitter: @clysy.

One promising new online trend is the addition of data visualization tools on major data source websites. So often data is released in either simplified reports or large raw data-sets; reports leave out a lot of the specifics (where the context lives) and while the raw data will eventually provide you with what you need, getting there can be tough. Visualization provides an opportunity to connect these extremes by offering a mechanism to find specific contextual data in a user-friendly visual format. The following are some examples.

Rad Resource: United States Census Bureau

The Census Bureau has accompanied its first release of data from the 2010 Census with a nice interactive widget.  The base view provides a color coded map of the United States along with a chart. You can choose to view one of three metrics; population change, population density, or apportionment.   To see state level data simply use your mouse to point to the individual state.  The widget also gives you a chance to see the same data for past census years.

Rad Resource: World Bank Data

If you’re a data person, you could probably spend hours just clicking around the different visualized indicators on the World Bank Data site. The dashboard format includes maps, embeddable graphs, and data tables equipped with sparklines (for more on Sparklines, see Larua Blasi’s January 11 post).

Rad Resource: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

While maybe not as sleek looking as the previous resources, the USGS provides real-time monitoring visualization of earthquakes and other hazards. If you ever feel a tremor check this site first – they will beat any news organization.

Hot Tip: If you ever decide to create your own data dashboard, check out Juice Analytics’ “Guide to Creating Dashboards People Love to Use.” It provides a nice little overview of the dos and don’ts of dashboard design.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Data Visualization and Reporting Week with our colleagues in the new DVR AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our DVR members and you may wish to consider subscribing to our weekly headlines and resources list where we’ll be highlighting DVR resources. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice.

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