Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Getting from Data Visualization Theory to Practice

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 10:35 AM
Brickell South (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Adam Coyne, Mathematica Policy Research
In the context of a broad presentation on data visualization, I will focus on how data visualization works in the “real world” and the opportunities and challenges a large research-based organization faces in implementing data visualization for the company and its government and foundation clients. I will talk through why Mathematica decided to begin using data visualization and infographics; how we developed the capability; feedback from staff and clients; challenges that we faced; and some of the results and impact we’ve witnessed to date.

Specific aspects of the presentation will include an overview of trends in the research and policy communications fields as they shift to shorter and simpler modes of communication. I will discuss how to build this capability within an organization, and focus on the challenge of translating complex research into simple graphics without losing meaning and nuance. As an organization dedicated to rigor and objectivity, it can be difficult to develop graphics that accurately reflect the research but also capture the right feel and tone. I will share how to develop an organizational process that facilitates researchers and designers working together effectively. Finally, I will talk about the importance of demonstrating the value of data visualization tools and how to change hearts and minds within an organization and with the audiences it’s trying to reach and influence.