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Creating a powerful data visualization story: The winner of the Global Partnership-World Bank Data Viz Contest

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Data Visualization Contest award ceremony
From left to right: Divyanshi Wadhwa from The World Bank; winners Miguel Ángel Dobrich and Gabriel Farías; and Claire Melamed from the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data / Photo: Lizzy Hvide


Data visualizations do more than display numbers; good data visualizations tell a story not only to educate, but also to engage and inspire their audiences. Data is crucial for informing knowledge work and measuring the impact of sustainable development programs. The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and the World Bank's Development Data Group often tell stories with data, and the two organizations wanted to see what data storytellers worldwide could do with development data.  

The Global Partnership held a data visualization contest, supported by the World Bank, in September for anyone interested in displaying data from the World Bank or other government data sets to create an interesting story. The challenge was to tell a data visualization story that showed the interconnectedness of Sustainable Development Goals and revealed how the mobilization of different resources could be linked to impact.  

Many data enthusiasts rose to the challenge, with submissions from 34 countries and six continents using health, climate, or other data sets to tell a story. A panel of judges narrowed the entries down to three finalists that tackle the impact of climate change, gender inequality, and armed conflict through the power of data stories and visualizations. 

Today, Miguel Ángel Dobrich and Gabriel Farías from Amenaza Roboto, a science and technology news website based in Montevideo, Uruguay, were announced as the winners of the data visualization contest at the prestigious Festival de Datos (held in Uruguay on November 7-9). Their entry, “From Drought to Floods: The Impact on Labor in the Coastal Zones of Uruguay, from East to West,” uses data to show how climate change is reshaping workers’ lives across Uruguay, examining the impact on three localities in Uruguay. The data stories describe the impact of changing weather patterns on an established shrimp fishery in Valizas and showcase the effects of flooding risks on the mobility of workers in Montevideo and the potential displacement of many people living in Ciudad del Plata.  


Winning data visualization project


The reader is guided through these stories with a mix of storytelling, scrollytelling, and geospatial data and maps, which help understand the areas most at risk. The project’s multilingual website – in English, Spanish, and Portuguese – runs the gamut of data information from still and animated maps, aerial photos over time, and stories and information to put together three individual pieces about these communities.

“Data visualization is a compelling field. It engages and captivates diverse audiences by distilling complex concepts into simple, appealing formats when executed effectively. Our research has resonated powerfully with policymakers, decision-makers, technical experts, and the general public, raising awareness among a wide readership.”

— Miguel Ángel Dobrich & Gabriel Farías, winners of the 2023 Data Visualization Contest

Amenaza Robot says of their work: “Our series on climate reporting delves into open government databases encompassing climatic, socioeconomic, geographic, and satellite data to extract insights into how climate change affects populations and their livelihoods. Seventy percent of the Uruguayan population lives in the coastal zone, a strip equivalent to 3.6% of the country's total surface area. This strip is being modified by the consequences of climate change and human action, impacting a large part of the population, their housing, critical infrastructure, areas of ecological interest, and some of the country's main sources of economic resources.” 


GIF of winning project


Ana Florina Pirlea, a Statistician with the Development Data Group and co-lead of the World Bank’s Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2023, who served as one of the judges reviewing the submissions, said: “Miguel and Gabriel’s project offers a great example for what an effective data visualization story looks like: by anchoring a wealth of data in the human experience and presenting it in a visually compelling and engaging manner, the authors have managed to bring their data to life and make it resonate with their audiences.” 

Another judge was “impressed at the clever use of satellite imagery and LiDAR; the even smarter analysis of future flood plains in Montevideo and the socioeconomic disparities that climate change exposes/accelerates; and how impactful the insertion of video, especially in the Montevideo piece where these moving images, overlaid on the map, made you consider just how much worse things could get for the residents of this city in future.”

Watch the award presentation below. Congratulations to Miguel Ángel Dobrich and Gabriel Farías from Amenaza Roboto on their winning entry and to all the data visualization contestants who took the time to create their stories.  



Divyanshi Wadhwa

Data Scientist, Development Data Group, World Bank

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