Talking data: Building interactive relationships with data and colleagues

Last week I had the honour to give the opening keynote talk at the Talking Data South West conference, organised by the Exeter Initiative for Statistics and its Applications. The event was chaired by Steve Brooks and brought together over 100 people to discuss all aspects of data: from collection and analysis through to visualisation and communication.

Building interactive relationships with data and colleagues

The programme was very good with a variety of talks such as How data collection from smart phones can improve agronomic decision making in potato crops by Robert Allen or Spatial data and analysis in the improvement of aquatic ecosystem health and drinking water quality by Nick Palling. I also liked Richard Everson’s presentation on Visualising and understanding multi-criterion league tables, which showed new ideas to create rankings.

However, my highlight was Alan Smith’s talk on Information for the Masses: Using Visualisation to Engage the Public. Alan heads up the Data Visualisation Unit at the Office for National Statistics and they created some fantastic online visualisation tools. He presented some interactive examples of the Census 2011 data set. Alan mentioned the hilarious story of a young lady, who had moved from Leeds to Elmbridge and used the Census data to find out why her new home was so dull compared to her old.

Screen shot of the 2011 Census comparator

The screen shot shows the age distribution of Leeds (left) and Elmbridge (right). Focus on the 20-24 year old age group and you’ll get the joke.