Open thread: What data do you want to see visualized?

There is so much data available and new data released every day, but not all of it is that interesting. Some is spotty and some doesn’t make sense. However, there is also a lot of exciting data to play with. Have you come across any datasets or sources that you think would be great to see and explore visually?


  • I’d like to see some visualizations of the situation in Japan.

  • As an ecologist, I’m always looking for ways to visualize multivariate data in a spatially explicit manner.

    For example, how would you combine a dendrogram on with a map? Or multiple metrics of ecological condition?

    Haven’t found a good answer for either of these issues.

  • Would love to see mapping of how people move through crowded spaces in relationship to each other. Crowded streets, malls, etc.

  • I am a big football (soccer) fan so would love to see data visualised on what has made Spain and Barcelona the best teams in football recently.

    So data based on match stats, age, injuries, what club and country a player plays for, no. of players from a national team playing for a club in that country, etc

    Would love to see more detailed data such the age they started playing and training regimes although I do not think we could get this sort of data.

  • I’d like to see a map showing where people in the Bible lived with links based on their relationships. Kinda like the “Facebook friend map.” I’ve been searching for/working on the necessary dataset for a while…tough stuff.

  • I would like to see visualizations of the behavior of our elected representatives, to help people keep up with what these slimeballs are doing. Open States Project seems to have cool data.

  • I’d like to see a visualization of new data, where it’s coming from, how often it is being updated and on what subjects.

  • I’d like to see a visualization of post-secondary degree attainment layered on a map that shows median SES.

  • I second Raphael’s request. Making sense of 3D data, for example MRI’s, wind tunnel simulations.

  • I’d like to see a large (i.e., traveling exhibition-sized) time series on global warming science, showing (1) studies and advances in scientists’ understanding of global warming, with color coding or some sort of differentiating attribute for whether each item supports or attacks the theory; (2) polling on the subject around the world; (3) action taken by world governments and major NGOs related to global warming; and (4) trends of temperature and concentrations of relevant substances in the atmosphere.

    Then, I’d like to see this taken around the country and the world and displayed in prominent public areas.

  • Roger Burton March 17, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Check out They have released some comprehensive data sets on agricultural water foot prints that might yield something very interesting.

  • Simple visualizations of carbon emissions correlated against different factors (although that surely exists, right? – anyone?). I’d still like to see more meaningful visualizations of Twitter as well. I’ve seen some pretty ones, but not that many insightful or useful ones.

  • I’ve just attended a very interesting talk about what works in education and heard about the work of John Hattie and his huge meta analysis of educational research in ‘ Visual learning’ . It would be very interesting and v useful for teachers to see what research says about different teaching methods and ways of organising our education systems.

  • I’d like to see visualizations showing the awesomeness of pro athletes. Which sports are evenly matched (where there aren’t many outliers)? Which athletes are absolutely CRUSHING their sport (alla Don Bradman for Cricket)?

  • I’d like to see some maps showing how ineffective modern production is and how it degrades our home (earth that is)

  • Wow, that are some really specific and interesting suggestions.
    Makes my idea look kind of boring: I would be interested in an interpretation of the data from Fortune’s World Most Admired Companies.

  • I’d like to see data on natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, tornado, hurricane, etc) and it’s death toll to better understand how rapid our earth is changing. I want to understand how frequently these disasters are happening and how serious. Would also be nice to know how much damage has been done (1 million US dollars in damage etc). This would have to be all over the world. I know there is a good site for earthquakes called “earthquakes in the last week”.

  • I’d love to see the daily news, broken into tags, over time.. to see which news-bits are important, when it is more important (beginning or end of the tag), and what kinds of tag-groupings make “important” news.. general or specific ones, nouns or verbs.. etc

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has tons of data that would be great to see visiualized. For example the National Bridge Inventory data- maybe seeing the number of structually deficient bridges in this country visually depicted on a map would make people realize that we need to invest more in our infrastructure.

  • I don’t know if the data exists, but I’d like to see cancer incidences on one axis, and diet on the other. I’d like to test whether spending money on organic foods or being vegetarian for health reasons leads to lower rates of disease.

  • energy consumption vs production sources.

  • I would love to see visualizations of art work…..timelines, techniques, what was happening when the piece was made, what other artists were doing when the piece was made…..etc.

  • Jake Solomon March 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Almost all epidemiological knowledge of mental health comes from three studies, the National Comorbidity Survey, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions. All these data are public:


    Someone needs to make something beautiful with this!

  • I’d like to see deaths, mamings (spell?), and cancer rates for workers and for the public per MWe produced by Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Hydro, Solar, and wind.

  • We just launched — an agreement with that creates a URL every time anyone uses to shorten a .gov or .mil URL. We’ll be releasing a real-time pub/sub feed of all the data we get from on We’ll need help visualizing it. Let’s do it!

    Nathan, email me if you’re interested in helping.

  • If you haven’t yet, check out the recent Ted talk “birth of a word”. It gets into some awesome Data points and visualizations around the frequency of words in different locations (10 minutes in) and then correlations between social network comments and broadcast programming (14 minutes in).

    Would love to see some of these concepts expanded upon!

  • Given the whole visualisation area is such a burgeoning one, it would be great to have an interactive visualisation that features (all) visualisations that have been made available to the public. Ideally it would have links back the original visualisations themselves, along with stylistic information on those visualisations (tools used to create, interactive or not, flowchart vs list infographic, popularity? etc), who the creators of these are (as well as collaborations), and then links back to the key data sources used.
    Can see the scope being a problem, but the data set would be an amazing resource for anyone in the field (or who was looking to get into it).

  • Hello

    I would like to see a comparison on how “green” the different energy sources are. Very difficult to do… e.g.
    -burning coal leads to global warming because auf CO2
    -Some of the dams in switzerland pump the water back up during the night with power from nuclear power plants
    -Some dams produce methan gas, and are not good for the environmen:
    -and so on…

    If some information on costs is added it would be an awesome thing!
    Cheers Reto

  • I’d love to see the UK budget visualised in the same way as the US one was (I think it was on here somewhere) as a treemap … found it: .

    More importantly I’d like to see how the money flows in and then flows out – so a view of budgeted government income vs budgeted govenrnment expenditure.

  • How about plotting the oligarchs?

    As a student of history, I early on become interested in economics upon noting the cyclical booms and protracted busts of the economies which were/are so detrimental to societies. I asked a simple question, “How might we have an economy which serves us vs. us genuflecting to it? I have then spent the years since college studying economics and history and seeing the degree to which the economic system has been manipulated to maintain a modern Feudal system. We’ve little understood our enslavement for unlike the early peasants whose only options were staying on their ancestral lands which had been enclosed (basically stolen by the aristocracy with the help of the nascent states) and working for the new landlords, or moving into cities to sell their labor—they understood all too well their enslavement. We instead have generally inherited a world view which having been separated from the land and our instinctual selves for generations, know of no other way of living except by selling ourselves in the contrived, corporate controlled marketplace which pursues infinite short term profits while squandering the environmental resources of our finite planet.

    What if by plotting the majority shareholders of the world’s largest public corporations, those Titans hiding behind holding companies and the like might be exposed? This might
    also include the private shareholders of the various central/reserve banks. A picture of these cartels which control our economic world, especially our monetary system, would definitely be worth a thousand words.

    • regarding the boom & bust cycle, “this time its different” by reinhart & rogoff amassed a large data set of economic crashes over the past few hundreds of years and draw some interesting conclusions.

      • Yes, “8 Centuries of Financial Folly,” I’ve read it. The patterns of disharmony are well established, and yet we keep repeating them. Seems that some consciousness raising is overdue, thus my suggestion related to the creation of some stunning, easily understandable visuals. Smile.

  • I really like the idea of visualizing how people move through a physical space (Keane’s idea), but I would also be interested in seeing a small segment of world history mapped together: how the economics, population health, political alliances – everything — impacted a particular moment in history. Kind of a timeline exploded beyond just dates and events.

  • At Next Big Sound we track how millions of consumers interact with bands and music across the web (from sites like Youtube, Myspace, Facebook, Vevo, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc). We power Billboard’s newest chart, the Social 50 and sell a centralized dashboard to the music industry. We ‘ve got an API for this data available at We’re always looking for cool new ways to visualize the billions of data points we collect.

  • I would like to see the relationships among what consumers pay insurance companies, what physicians or medical providers charge consumers, what physicians and medical providers bill insuance companies for the services provided, what physicians and healthcare providers pay insurance companies for malpractice insurance, and what insurance companies pay physicians and medical providers for services provided to consumers, and what insurance companies pay out in malpractice suites. Does the inclusion of for-profit insurance company in-between consumer and provider add any value? Is there a need for a third for-profit entity between consumer and provider? Are insurance companies raising the cost of health care by their for-profit needs? Physicians and other medical care providers claim they have to charge more for service because of increased overhead costs. In the past 35 years ago a Doctor’s office was about $50.00 today the same visit at best costs $150.00. Nothing has changed with the service, 5 minutes of face time with Doc then out the door with nothing or a prescription. In the late 1990’s, hospitals were charging $800.00 a day to sterilize sheets. It is probably more today. How has the cost of sterilizing sheets become so expensive? A Tylenol in the hospital is $8.00 a tablet. I realize that inflation raises costs, but the rate of cost increases seems much higher than inflation. Why are medical care costs so high? What are we paying for? It’s not just the service times inflation. Is this because of the uninsured, the insurance companies, the cooperatives, etc.? Where is the money going, doctors, insurance companies, other overhead? We need some answers here, and you all are the people who can help us understand so that we can make the right decisions about this country’s future.