Category Archives: Data

Data Web Links

Live flight tracking with

I love it when clever people come up with clever ways of using APIs and data to produce something useful. is a site that does that pretty well.

Using a mashup of Google maps and data sent to the site from ADS-B transponders (the site explains what these are all about), you can see flights tracked live on your screen.  The website currently only tracks about 70% of European traffic and 30% of US traffic, but it’s still quite mesmerising viewing.  You can even click on individual aircraft and view detailed information about them, including a nice on-screen flightpath so far since take-off.

I even tested this with a plane that was flying over my house near Manchester (UK) today and it was spot on.  Apparently there’s also an app for Apple and Android phones.

Charts Data

Messing with charts etc

Over on Storytelling With Data, Cole Nussbaumer has been blogging about a similar pet hate of mine, the pie chart.  Using an example from Techcrunch she (quite rightly) criticised a pie chart which shows how much they cover start-ups versus big companies.

The solution to the problem is generally a horizontal bar chart, which shows the data in an easy to compare relative size.  The only possible problem as defined by Cole is that you lose the concept of there being a whole and, in turn the parts of a whole.  I tried to play with this idea to see if there was a way that I could do that without using a pie, so I kind of combined the two together:-

I don’t think it works though.  You can certainly see the parts of the whole, but I think you would still lose something if the labels were taken away.  I think Cole (and Few et al) are right, the only way to really allow for comparison between each item visually is like Cole did it, the good old standard horizontal bar chart:-

What do you think?  Any thoughts? Comments are welcome.

Dashboards Data Infographics

Dashboard Redesign

I was browsing the web earlier this week and came across this page related to the PerformancePoint Dashboard Designer. I don’t know anything about this software as such, but the first thing to jump out at me was this screenshot displaying a sample dashboard.

Immediately I wanted to have a go at cleaning it up.  I started as usual by scribbling my thoughts and ideas onto a printed copy of the report.  Apologies if you can’t make sense of my scrawly writing, but hopefully you’ll get the point of what I was thinking.

Once I’d completed this I opened Excel and set about creating a mockup of how I thought the data on this dashboard could be better presented and tidied up.  Results are below.

Larger PDFs of the notes and final dashboard design can be downloaded by clicking on the images.

I think this is much cleaner, clearer and easier to read. Any comments/criticism (constructive, if possible)? This is the first time I’ve done this kind of work for an online audience so I’m happy to take on board any wisdom.  Also, does anybody use PerformancePoint at all?  Any comments or thoughts on it as a dashboard design/data analysis tool?

Data Infographics

Infographics Summarised Amusingly have created the infographic below and personally I think it sums up a lot about what is generally often wrong with infographics  – an overemphasis on graphics and form rather than allowing the data itself to tell a tale sometimes results in something which looks a bit sexy, but is ultimately pointless and takes up much more space and attention than is necessary.

Check the image out in full screen and chuckle away at the points made.



Link to the thinkbrilliant article is here.