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New visualization tool displays development data with simple, animated graphs

James I Davison's picture

Click to view large.

A colleague over at the PSD blog first pointed out yesterday a brand new data visualization tool recently rolled out by the World Bank. The Data Visualizer displays the 2009 World Development Indicators – including 49 indicators for 209 countries from 1960-2007 – in an attractive, easy-to-understand and highly customizable way. The data contains social, economic, financial and environmental indicators and can be filtered in a number of different ways, including by region and country.

Someone familiar with, which I wrote about last spring, will quickly notice that this new tool from the World Bank is quite similar to the Gapminder World animated graphing tool. As I mentioned in that post, I think one of the most interesting aspects of this type of data visualization is being able to literally hit Play and witness how the data indicators have changed over time right in front of your eyes.

For example, take a look at the image above, which shows GDP (X-axis) along with the number of mobile phone subscribers (Y-axis) in East Asian and Pacific Island countries. (Note that each colored bubble represents a country and the size of the bubble indicates a country’s population.) Not surprisingly, little changed with mobile usage until the mid-’90s. Interestingly, in the last few years, the number of cellular subscribers in Thailand has increased by a huge amount. It was also interesting to note that the Solomon Islands still remain low in mobile usage. (Click the image above to view it large.)

That’s just one of seemingly endless variations of data, so I really recommend checking it out yourself. To get the most out of the tool, I recommend watching the video tutorial, as noted by PSD blogger Ryan Hahn.

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