Visualisation Of Scottish Demographic Data

My MSc dissertation is available for download here, as a 7.54Mb PDF. Here’s the abstract:

This project explores the use of interactive visualisations to augment the extensive data published by the National Records of Scotland. Good visualisation can illustrate key trends in statistical data, increasing impact and accessibility; great visualisation can go further, and enable us to identify and explore unexpected connections. Data visualisations can therefore support operational research, but we will see that producing them also entails solving problems of an OR flavour.

We survey the existing literature for principles of good design in presenting data visually; much of this is aimed at hand-produced imagery for print, so we examine how it can be best used in the new context of procedurally-generated, interactive visualisations for the web. In the first instance, we consider this for chart types which have proven popular or successful for static visualisations, particularly if already used by NRS.

This leads us to investigate more complicated data sets which can be interpreted as having a graph theoretic structure. We will show how the constrained layout of networks of vertices with an associated size can be posed as an optimisation problem, and develop a visualisation that operates under such constraints. Further, we will consider the use of geographic clustering to represent migration flow, describing and implementing a novel `re-wiring’ algorithm to generate tree structures that produce better visualisations than standard agglomerative approaches.

Finally, we present a portfolio of visualisations created for NRS that follow the design principles identified and make use of the software tools developed during the project.

There is also an online version of the appendix with links to the various visualisations developed, including source code and sample data files. The rest of this post gives at-a-glance versions.

The Cause of Death Explorer
The Cause of Death Explorer

Cause of Death Treemap
Cause of Death Treemap

Experimental alternative presentation of the above data set; not suitable for Internet Explorer

Fertility data (cohort effects)

Baby names
Popular baby names for boys

Also available for girls!

Scottish Life Expectancy
Life Expectancy

The first to be used in NRS reporting, appearing here.

Gender distribution by age
Gender distribution by age

Scottish Migration
Migration chord diagram (experimental)

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