What makes this project innovative?
China and India pollution –– China and India are both known for their huge populations and their choking air pollution – but China’s smoggy skies usually get more media attention. I drew on data files from NASA to show convincingly that India has it worse. This project was unique at the FT in that the story was initiated out of graphical research, and then expanded to include the written text. I created the graphics and then approached South Asia bureau chief Amy Kazmin and Lucy Hornby, deputy bureau chief in Beijing, to provide the interviews and context for the articles. I deployed 3D data animation and digital illustrations to create pieces that appealed to the brain and the heart. This collaborative reporting by the FT highlights the power of smartly designed, easily understood graphics to bring public policy questions to life. Together the graphics showed conclusively that air quality in Northern India has been far worse than in China in recent years, contrary to popular opinion. In India in particular, the graphics generated a public debate over a problem that is still not fully appreciated. The original goal behind “China’s polluted skies” was to show in a compelling visual way how levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – a common air pollutant -- had changed over the past decade or so, and investigate the possible causes. A dark splodge on the southwest corner of the maps sparked our curiosity about the situation in India. When I pulled the additional files from NASA, he was shocked at the dark wall of pollution that smothered the Ganges plain. I created an animation to directly compare India and China and emphatically dispel the long held assumption that China’s pollution is worse than India’s. The heart of both pieces was the use NASA’s rich resources. For the China piece I downloaded monthly average levels of NO2 since Jan 2005; the India piece drew off annual particulate matter (PM2.5) data going back to 1998. The illustration at the top of each article was important, as it showed the human side of a story dominated by maps and charts. Choosing to use the illustrations created a look and feel that wouldn't have been possible with a photograph, and helped spark empathy in the reader. For India, where the air pollution problem is just beginning to be acknowledged, the question I tried to answer was how many people were impacted. The centrepiece of this article was the Marimekko chart of pollution data for over 80 countries. This chart type is the perfect way to show two types of information – the total population and the percentage affected, on a single graphic. I overlaid the Nasa pollution data onto a population density grid from the European Commission to produce the dataset. In the scatterplot chart I went one step further and adjusted the data for population density, to avoid skewing the mean numbers for countries such as China and Russia that have vast unpopulated regions. I used R, a statistical computing application, to perform the analysis. In both countries, coal is a major contributing factor to pollution. The accompanying charts on coal production and consumption, and the numbers of coal-fired power stations, helped give the reader some context as to why these pollution levels are the way they are. The FT has been building on its newspaper heritage by developing graphics and other online content that can drive debate in new media, while remaining firmly grounded in its core reporting on economics and policy. “China’s Polluted Skies” and “Dirty Air” are powerful examples of how innovative data and graphics can go hand-in-hand with our traditional expertise in text and analysis. Struggling to breathe –– The challenge with this project was to show how, even though London was a pioneer in limiting the number of cars, it is almost as polluted as Delhi by some measures. We worked closely with TfL and King's College to produce a series of maps and graphics that highlight problems unique to London. Taking the NO2 data from King's College and categorising it relative to the WHO safe limit highlighted just how bad it is in Central London. Designing a new colour ramp that put across the extreme nature of the top end of the scale worked really well. This was commented on by Joshua Stevens, Data Visualisation and Cartography Lead at Nasa (see additional link). Showing the slowest London bus routes in comparison to the average walking speed really drove home the point at how bad the congestion is in London. These slow moving diesel buses are a major contributor the NO2 pollution in London Prime suspect –– The goal of this project was to highlight not just the eye watering prices of these luxury skyscrapers in an already slowing housing market but to illustrate the impact it would have on the Manhattan skyline. This project began with a list of locations of currently under construction and planned constructions. I painstakingly tracked down the locations of each building using Google maps and drew the new footprints alongside the dataset of building footprints from NYC Open Data Portal. These were then used to create a digital elevation model (DEM) inside QGIS based on the height of the buildings. I then took the DEM into Blender to create the 3d model, colour coding the buildings by date of construction. Running the full extent of the Manhattan skyline along the bottom of the graphic really highlighted how transformational these new buildings would be to the Manhattan skyline. High rise downturn hits Manhattan (social animation) –– The challenge for this was how to take a half page graphic and condense it down into something that will work on Instagram. The only logical solution was to create an animation of the graphic, highlighting some of the key locations. This was created in Blender and completed in After Effects Why water is a growing faultline between Turkey and Iraq –– For this project we were tasked with showing what the impact of Turkey's damming of the Tigris river would have on Iraq and and the ancient town of Hasankeyf. I collaborated with Chris Campbell on this piece who created the large annotated map of Iraq. For the flooding animation and impact on Hasankeyf graphic I used detailed digital elevation models of the region, which were taken into Blender and used in conjunction with raising a flat plane plane to give the effect of what the extent of the reservoir would be once it is filled. Making a comparison to another landmark is always a useful frame of reference. For the close up of Hasankeyf I used google satellite imagery in conjunction with a digital elevation model to show the extent of the flooding of Hasankeyf. This graphic really drove home how an entire town full of ancient ruins of historical significance will be completely submerged. With the existing residents expected to relocate to a new development just to the north.