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Biodiversity, climate change, information visualisation and UX

These four topics are not often used in the same sentence. In fact, these communities rarely meet. The EcoViz Tansley workshop brought people together to discuss how the Biodiversity and Climate Change communities can use visualisation and UX. It was fascinating hearing directly from the scientists and domain experts about the challenges they face when reporting science to policy makers. It was clear that they struggled to communicate the complexity and significance of their science. Visualisation plays a key role in communicating difficult concepts.

We were also introduced to some interesting ideas and tools such as CartoDB by Andrew Hill which enables anyone to map their geographical data.

Alan Smith’s talked about the work being done at the Office of National Statistics to make statistics more accessible to the public through Visual.ONS. Also there was nice work being done by Vizzuality mapping global deforestation through Forest Watch.

Will Stahl-Timmins gave a great talk about some of his experimental research where they were measuring the effectiveness of info-graphics versus just a plain text. The results of the experiment (926 participants) seem to show that people gained more knowledge from the info graphic. It is good to have this evidence based approach.

I particularly enjoyed hearing Mike Saunby’s tales about the MET office and his adventurous hackathons.

All in all there was so much information and so many interesting people to meet that there are too many to list here. This cross-pollination of design and science is certainly a great format to generate creative solutions to difficult problems. It also creates empathy both ways and perhaps opens up opportunities for designers to work closely with scientists that did not exist before.