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The difference between data and practical data can be vast – and can mean the difference between lives lost and lives saved. Indeed, a lot of the data that is used, analyzed and discussed in the academic research worlds rarely finds its way to either policy-makers or practitioners. And if it does, it is often misunderstood, not understood at all, or met with ambivalence. That’s why effective data presentation is so important – especially in the context of increased climate-related risks. But access to raw data sets is also important, as it gives different institutions (and people) with different mandates, missions and needs the flexibility to utilize and interpret data in a way that is most useful for advancing their work, or meeting their specific needs. A few recent articles tackle these two separate but interrelated issues. (more…)
One of the most famous examples of effective statistical data presentation is Charles Joseph Minard’s “Mapping Napoleon’s March.” The chart (below) details the geographical progression of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Russian campaign of 1812, and powerfully communicates to the reader the scale of lives lost over time, space and temperature. The effect is clear. The data, presented in such a way, fully demonstrates how disastrous the campaign was, and how closely that devastation was linked to cold weather. It has taken many an author entire books to get the same point across.
But in addition to telling us about lives lost in centuries past, can data presentation be useful for saving lives in the future? (more…)