Dynamic data visualisation prototype: ICMPD

Following our earlier work on research and benchmarking for ICMPD, we successfully tendered for the project of creating a prototype to put our recommendations into practice. The brief was to create a website containing a dynamic data visualisation portal, in which users could select from a range of indicators, countries and years, and view data visualised across a map and a series of charts, with a web-based uploader to enable the client to periodically upload new datasets to the portal.

We opted for a mix of technologies: Drupal for the website and CMS, a MySQL database to house our datasets, that would generate the APIs that would in turn be queried by Tableau to generate front-end visualisations. This approach represented a balance. On the one hand, we needed to move quickly to provide a working proof of concept and unlock future funding. On the other, we were keen to avoid a Tableau-only solution that would lock our client into a proprietary platform with all the risks that this entails; our Tableau front-end is modular and can be replaced with open-source technologies once project needs are more clearly understood and establishment following testing of the prototype.

To enable this we scrambled a virtual team including our long-standing associate Paul Finn as web designer and our development partner Platform3. We also very much enjoyed working for the first time with the University of Southampton’s GeoData Institute.

We’ve learned a huge amount about the ins and outs of the different technologies involved, the ways in which they are able to integrate with each other and their suitability for the various detailed requirements that we had to contend with, and we’re really looking forward to our next data visualisation project.

The Proof of Concept has enabled ICMPD to unlock substantial funding for a new phase of development of this product.