Some thoughts about visualization, and links to resources, that I made during my participation in the Hazard Maps workshop held on 8th December 2016 in Edinburgh.

Communicating Science

On communicating science - Jessica Hullman has done some interesting work :

A related idea that is from elsewhere...

Also, on explanation, have you ever tried explaining what you do by only using the thousand most used words in a language? This site, based on Randall Munroe's Up Goer 5 explanation in xkcd and lets you try. An interesting exercise :

Owen Gaffney at the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Future Earth Media Lab has done some great stuff on communicating science -

We wrote something on the opportunities for using visualization in all of this ...

Quick Vis / Local Government

We talked a little about rapid visualization in local government and (perhaps) emergency contexts.

I work a fair bit with Rob Radburn from Leicestershire County Council. Rob is a 'Tableau Zen Guru' and works with Tableau as a kind of internal  visualization consultant at LCC. Lots of his stuff is online, with examples of how nicely visualization can be achieved in Tableau through, for example the weekly Makeover Monday challenge. Remember - this is QUICK.


There is quite a lot of work on understanding uncertainty and probability in visualization.

Luana Micallef has published some interesting work on this in collaboration with the (excellent) guys at INRIA :

The short video may be a good place to start :

Surprise Maps were presented at IEEE VIS this year and might be an interesting focus :

Andy Kirk provides some references  to the extensive VIS literature on effectively visualizing uncertainty :

Data Collection & Community Participation

An interesting (expensive) project where local communities in Seattle participated in collecting data that were subsequently visualized :

giCentre work

There are a few things that my group does that could be interesting.

Lisa asked specifically about our OD maps - in which we show flows between pairs of places using mini maps of destinations located at the origins on a larger map. This lets us see how the geography of destinations varies (sometimes gradually, sometimes abruptly) spatially - here's the paper.

We used this technique to show how viewsheds vary in the Lake District (England, not Chile). These viewable areas associated with particular points vary in spatially related ways - opening up as you climb up the enclosed dales onto the fells for example. They relate to some of what Lisa was showing about landscapes 'opening up' as you walk. She did this very nicely in a linear way with her drawings. We have tried to do so in a discrete way that varies in two dimensions.

Click the first image to see and example. We also use OD maps to show migration, commuting and other flows.


Lisa also showed interest in our 'handy' algorithm that simulates hand drawn lines and shapes :


This can be used to represent uncertainty and we have shown this to be effective in out paper on 'sketchy rendering' :

  My colleague Jo Wood developed this approach as a Processing library, but we have a JS / D3 implementation too - developed by Seb Meier during his internship at City :

Jo has used the algorithm to generate sketches from digital photos - some of which look a little like architectural drawings - have a look!


Jo also has a nice piece on visualizing risk, which links in well with the communication theme above - associated with cycling behaviour in this instance :

You can find more about giCentre visualization work us and what we get up to at  

This includes author pre-prints of the 18 papers published in IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics in the last decade