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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

Changing the City through Pictures alone?

Yesterday City Hall hosted a Visualising London event. I introduced the day with a challenge that the growing digital visualisation movement has to go way beyond simply delivering beautiful evidence if it is to make a real difference. Of course visual impact will engage, but the intersection of the high art of information design, statistics and open data has to deliver genuine insight for public policy makers. Get the balance between these sometimes unlikely bedfellows right and we open up new vistas, prompting a different way of thinking about policy challenges which are growing in magnitude by the day.

Our speakers did not disappoint. The Guardian delivered a strong exposition of how they use data presentation to bring to life, and encourage participation in, stories in areas like public spending, MPs expenses and Wikileaks. UCL used some stunning visualisation to tell us how more subtle and current sources such as telecommunications data can be complementary to more established population datasets. They moved the debate on towards understanding how the people we serve see the city. A new one on me, they explained the potential of QR codes to tell the story of things, to reach out to the public in a new model of engagement which lets them tell their own stories about London. Think how this could change participation in our arcane planning processes.

Google introduced their own public data explorer and Emer Coleman of the GLA spoke about engaging the developer community in delivering applications to improve the lives of Londoners and increase accountability.

Links to presentations from the three G’s of the Guardian, Google and GLA can be found below, as can a video of the day. We will post those from the Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London later when we have worked out how to compress them without diminishing their astounding content.

We are keen to do new things, so if the presentations inspire, do get in touch and let’s see what we can do together.

Those presentations…

Guardian: news / flash interactive story telling

Google: Data Discovery Tools

GLA: We built it – did they come?

And the video…

And a video of some example visualisations from the GLA’s Intelligence Unit…

Finally, in the spirit of the day, below is a visualisation of the events 235 delegates by organisation/group: