Helping cities make sense of data

Global Cities BLOG

There is little doubt that with the vast amounts of information that we are presented with on a daily basis, we are most definitely living in the information era. I suppose we always have been and now technology has enabled us to capture even more of what was already there. What I find most interesting and inspiring are the many different ways in which information is presented, from films and images to articles and infographics.

Even more interesting is the vast amount of information which is being created and is readily available from our ever growing cities. Local governments have made information more accessible in a drive for open data, so there is even more information available for us to harvest for interpretation and to present in innovative and fascinating ways.

LifeSatisfaction blog

Islington Has Issues - excerpted from London: The Information Capital by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti (particular Books, 30 October 2014).

One of the most recent and inspiring additions to our studio is the very visual book Information Capital by James Chesire and Oliver Uberti, which has 100 maps and graphics and certainly lives up to its claim of changing how one views the city. Equally inspiring is Dr Ed Manley's work (, which looks at movements around the city, the maps make for some fascinating viewing.

Many of our responses to the briefs that we receive start with discussing and storyboarding how to present information in an engaging way, tailored to our clients audience and message. One of the most recent projects that our graphics and editorial team worked on with the GLA and the TfL was the Transport Infrastructure Plan 2050. Our brief was to produce a set of infographics, maps and charts and over 600 pages of documentation which illustrate how London is expected to grow and change over the coming 35 years. 

TFL 2050

Excerpt from London's 2050 Infrastructure report showing potential population density projections.

A lot of the information came to us in table form, providing a blank canvas to start the process of working out how to present the information graphically, if indeed that was the agreed way we decided to present the information. We didn't want to over complicate the information for the sake of it and we kept this in mind with every piece of information, from looking at borough population densities against existing good transport connections to looking at tube crowding and times, we presented the information in a series of graphics and maps that the audience could scan and get a quick overview or interrogate the information further for more detail.

A film we produced for AECOM's The Global Cities Institute a not-for-profit initiative, draws on the company’s fully integrated planning, design, engineering and management capabilities to help improve cities. The ‘CITY’ graphic creatively evolves with each description which effectively and artistically explores this cross section of cities, questioning the approach on how to deal with these current urban problems.

There are many great examples of the different ways to present information especially from our ever expanding cities, please share your inspiring graphics, films, books, blogs, websites that also look at presenting information differently.

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