Your City, Your Neighborhood, and You
Visualization for Civic Engagement
Objective and Overview
Data is transforming many areas of our lives, and will continue to do so at increasing paces as long as we continue to value information-driven decisions. Data science is deeply intertwined with visualization, not only for exploring data but also for communicating insights derived from the data. For these reasons, we felt that it was important to provide an opportunity to our community to participate in the data revolution, though the vehicle of our annual VizUM Symposium.
Many disciplines have developed a variety of approaches of collecting and exploring data, using it to better understand phenomena of interest. Industries that have not historically relied on data are now increasingly interested in capitalizing on it. Beyond the sciences, data science is integrating itself into criminal justice, architecture, conservation, journalism and more. There is no question: no matter which path you plan to pursue, data manipulation, analysis, visualization, interpretation and communication skills will give you a competitive advantage.
The first annual VizUM competition calls all powerful city dwellers to dive deep into data shared by Miami-Dade County and produce a visualization that speaks to their fellow citizens, calling their attention to a topic that matters. Your goal is to dive into the data in order to better understand an issue about public life that is important to you, then create a compelling visualization that calls people to action on that topic.
We have specifically and deliberately designed this competition so that you don’t have to be a visualization wizard to enter and have a reasonable chance of becoming a finalist!
What’s in it for you?
- You may want to use this competition as an opportunity to teach yourself how to use a new tool or learn a programming language.
- You may want to use this competition because you know that you are the best, and you have your eye on one of the prizes.
- You may want to use this competition to call your fellow citizens to action on an issue that is important to you, because you want to make a difference.
No matter what your motivation is, welcome!
You must use datasets from at least one of the following three sources:
We will refer to this as your « city or county » dataset.
You may combine the city or county datasets that you choose with any other open data that you can find, such as Census Bureau data, Twitter or other social network data, data from the State of Florida, the U.S. Federal Goverment Open Data Portal or data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Data Retrieval System or data from the World Council on City Data Open Data Portal. We will refer to this as your « additional » dataset.
Your additional dataset does not need to be Miami- or Miami-Dade-focused, if it ties in to the story that you’d like to tell.
If you do choose to bring in an additional dataset, please keep in mind that you will need to provide the details of how you performed the merging operation in your submission.
Timeline and Important Dates
|November 16, 2017||Official launch of the 2017-2018 VizUM Competition|
|December 4, 2017||Last day for teams or individuals to register by completing the Registration Form|
|January 17th, 2018||Idea Checkpoint|
|April 19th, 2018||Analysis Checkpoint|
|June 21st, 2018||Participant social get together|
|July 19th, 2018||Visualization Checkpoint|
|October 4, 2018 at noon||Submission of your visualization | Please use the Submission Form|
|November 15, 2018||2018 VizUM Symposium finalists display their work|
Why Checkpoints? Between the launch of the competition and selection of the finalists, there are three checkpoints. These are designed to keep you on track, and, particularly if you are a beginner, to give you a little bit of guidance on the typical process of a data analysis. They are for you to use as you like, or not use at all. The checkpoints provide opportunities to reflect on how your project is coming along as you move through the stages of creating your final product. Having to summarize all the details in which you were immersed for someone else to consume is a valuable tool and it can help you deliver your best.
One week before each checkpoint, you will receive a reminder email that a checkpoint is coming up.
The Idea Checkpoint By this point, you should have a clear idea of the question that you would like to ask of the data.
You don’t yet need to have a detailed plan of what your final visualization will look like, but you do need to know what information you will use to make it. The purpose behind this checkpoint is to ensure that the dataset does in fact contain the information that you need in order to answer your question of interest. A common pitfall in data analysis is thinking that you are asking one question, when the information available to you lends itself to answering something (slightly or more than slightly) different.
Are you able to refine your question after having taken a closer look at the data and the metadata? What are some possible sources of bias and is there any way that you can avoid them without spending time and resources collecting more data?
Deliverable: a paragraph describing the question that drives your visualization, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may describe the issue that you care about, why it is important to you to raise awareness about this issue, some limitations of the data to answer your question and what you plan to do about these limitations (if anything can be done).
The Analysis Checkpoint By this point, you should have done any pre-processing, cleaning of the dataset that you are interested in, as well as have a fairly good idea of basic features and relationships in the data.
Pre-processing refers to manipulations you make to your variables to get them ready to use. For example, some of the datasets have location encoded as address (latitude, longitude) and you know that you need to separate out latitude and longitude into different columns. This manipulation will turn a string of characters into numeric values, changing the data type of the variable. Latitude and longitude need to be represented numerically in order to map the data point.
The process is iterative: you are not expected to know that you need numeric values before you try to use the mapping functions and find out that the input that they take has to be numeric. You may have tried feeding the location variable to the mapping function, get an error, identify the source of the error (wrong data type) and only then find out that you need to do some pre-processing to that variable before using it. Being able to work in this cycle will make you better at data analysis.
You should also have ran some descriptive statistics and explored any relationships between variables that you care about. By this point the story will start emerging from the data!
Deliverable: a paragraph outlining any manipulations that you did on the data and why they were necessary. You may also submit some graphs (barplots, box plots, histograms, whatever is appropriate) along with observations that give you an insight into the data.
The Visualization Checkpoint Now that the story is starting to emerge, shift your attention to how you want to present it.
Deliverable: a mockup of your final visualization, indicating the positioning of key elements, and a paragraph explaining your reasoning behind it. This may, of course, change as you make progress in creating it.
- The contest is open to everyone: professionals or data visualization amateurs, regardless of age, race, occupation, or any other categories.
- Any tools that can convey the idea of your visualization will be accepted. No programming is required, although the use of a programming language is encouraged as it would give you a considerable advantage.
- You may use different tools for the different parts of your project. For example, you may start with R and RStudio for the analysis, and then use Inkscape or Shiny when the time comes to create the final visualization.
- Although we encourage the use of open-source tools, you may use any tool that you like for your analysis and final visualization.
- You may submit interactive visualizations, for example: an interactive web app created with Shiny. It doesn’t need to be hosted on a webpage, you may simply share your files with us so that we can open it using a browser.
- If you are forming a team, the team should not exceed 3 members, with clearly separated tasks that are carefully outlined in your registration form as well as in your final submission.
- You may use any resources available to you in teaching yourself what you need in order to complete your project. This includes any Coursera or edX courses, Hadley Wickham and Garrett Grolemund’s R for Data Science book, any other book, or advice from those with more experience.
- If you do seek advice from those with more experience, from a professional programmer or designer, make sure to give them due credit in your submission document’s Credits section.
- If you are using spatial data, you may use any base maps that you wish, as long as they are open-source. OpenStreetMap tiles and Google Maps tiles are allowed.
Please use this Submission Form to submit your project.
For the supporting files, please use the following naming convention: organization abbreviation, your first name or your team’s name, and one keyword that describes your project. For example, if your organization is “University of Miami”, your name is “Jane Doe”, and you looked into traffic violations then the file name should be university-of-miami-jane-doe-traffic-violations.pdf.
For entries that use Inkscape, create a hand drawn visualization, or a non-interactive visualization, please submit your final visualization in .pdf format.
We encourage you to make a GitHub account (if you don’t already have one) and to upload all your code, your visualization, and any related files to a new repository. If you choose to use GitHub, please submit a link to your Github repo in the relevant field in the Submission Form.
Once you have submitted your entry, you will receive an email notification confirming your submission.
Prizes need to be listed here.
Awards will be decided in two rounds. In the first round, each submission will be carefully judged by five visualization experts. The judges will consider both your analysis and visualization, in the following four dimensions. Each dimension operates on a 5-point scale, and in all dimensions a higher number represents a better score. Awards will be decided in two rounds. In the first round, each submission will be carefully judged by five visualization experts. The judges will consider both your analysis and visualization, in the following four dimensions. Each dimension operates on a 5-point scale, and in all dimensions a higher number represents a better score.
- Compelling visualization (i.e. calls the viewer to action). How well does your visualization communicate the importance of the issue and how lives are affected?
- Appropriate use of statistical, algorithmic and/or other tools in making inference related to the issue that is explored. Do your results support your conclusions and the message of your visualization?
- Appropriate documentation of the methods. Does your methods submission include enough details to be able to reproduce the project, given your shared code?
- Clarity of message. How much do you avoid ambiguity in delivering the message? Does the viewer have to dig deep and rely on their own interpretation to understand your message or to be impacted by your visualization?
- Appropriately handles uncertainty, for example by communicating limitations either of the data or the methods. Your conclusions and take home messages strike an appropriate level of balance between delivering a powerful message and avoiding unfounded generalizations.
Only entries submitted by the deadline will be considered.
All finalists will be showcased at the 2018 VizUM Symposium.
In the first round, each submission will be carefully judged by five visualization experts.
The judges will consider both your analysis and visualization, in the following four dimensions. Each dimension operates on a 5 point scale, and in all dimensions a higher number represents a better score.
- Compelling visualization (i.e. calls the viewer to action) (communicates importance of issue and how lives are affected)
- Appropriate use of statistical, algorithmic and/or other tools
- Clarity of message (avoid ambiguity in interpretation of the take away messages)
- Appropriately handles uncertainty, for example: by communicating limitations either of the data or the methods (avoids undue generalizations)
Only entries submitted by the deadline will be considered.
All finalists will be showcased at the 2018 VizUM Symposium, where attendees will vote for the winner. Awards will be presented at the conclusion of the 2018 VizUM Symposium.
- Cameron Riopelle, Data Science Librarian | UM Libraries
- Michael Sarasti, Chief Innovation Officer | City of Miami
Organizing Committee Members
- Alberto Cairo PhD, Professor of Professional Practice / Knight Chair in Visual Journalism | UM School of Communication
- Maria Galli Stampino PhD, Professor of French and Italian | College of Arts & Sciences
- Mahsa Mirazargar PhD, Assistant Professor | Department of Computer Science | UM College of Arts & Sciences
- Athina Hadjixenofontos PhD, Director of Engagement | UM Center for Computational Science
For questions regarding the contest, please don’t hesitate to email email@example.com