Global Data Through Visualisation

Gapminder is a non-profit venture for development and provision of free software to visualise human development. This was done in collaboration with universities, UN organisations, public agencies and non-governmental organisations.

Gapminder was founded to promote sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, by increased use and understanding of statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels.

There is no political agenda behind what Gapminder does just a desire to align perceptions with the data.

The idea is that all people, independently of their political agenda, are free to access already existing statistics about global development to easily improve their understanding about the complex nature of society.

Gapminder serves people interested in the data and they do not have to be advanced skilled statisticians to analyse it. You can view on a map or chart any relationship you care about and how it has evolved over time e.g. the life expectancy and income.

The empirical data provided can unlock key strategic conversations, and tips for focusing efforts on the measurements that matter most. This tool would be a useful resource for government organisations to help gather and present empirical data in an accessible format to the public without the spin.

Accessing such an interactive data resource will help us look at data over time and challenge our assumptions and biases about conditions in the developing world.

In the example below, you will see a scatterplot where each bubble represents a country. The position of the bubble is determined by the indicators on the axes. In this view, the size of the circles is proportional to the population of the country, and the colour represents the continent.

You can choose from a variety of indicators on each axis such as: carbon dioxide emissions, child mortality, economic growth, internet users per 1000 people, military budget, phone users per 1000 people and urban population.

From the Graph below you can:

  • • Select between Chart and Map view
  • • Hover your mouse over the circle to reveal the names of the countries
  • • The countries on the graph are colour coded by continent. Click on any country circle and its continent will be highlighted on the world map. You can colour the countries by income group or development indicator as well
  • • Watch the graph change over time
  • • Select individual countries
  • • Change the size of the circles, or make them proportional to another development indicator. You can click to select the indicator for the x axis

MapThe development of Gapminder has since been taken over by Google but the Gapminder Foundation maintain the same aim and use its resources to produce videos and web services showing major global development trends with animated statistics.

The time series used will be made freely available in the web service called Gapminder World that will enable end users to further explore the underlying statistics in this interactive graph. Hopefully

Google will increase the usability and flexibility of Gapminder and make it easy for users to share and export content across different platforms.

To understand more, I would recommend watching Hans Rosling’s presentation at the TED Talks and visiting the Gapminder.org site for more resources and downloads.

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