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National Center for Visual AnalyticsNCVA Logo

Welcome to the "Geovisual Analytics Educational Web site"

mikael pionjär

National Center for Visual Analytics (NCVA) is a Swedish national educational and research resource for Geovisual Analytics established in 2007 with financial support during 2007-2011from the Swedish Knowledge Foundation's (KK-Stiftelsen) Visualization Program and VINNOVA (the Swedish government agency that administers state funding for research and development). Financial support for two industrial PhD students was also provided by Unilever Research Port Sunlight and SMHI  (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute).

NCVA - Concept and Idea

The large and ever-increasing amounts of multidimensional, multi-source, time-varying digital information represent a major challenge. The need to analyze and make decisions based on these information streams, often in time-critical situations, demands integrated, automatic and sophisticated interactive tools that aid the user to manage, process visualize and interact with large information spaces. This approach has been encapsulated in the idea of Geovisual Analytics - "defined as the science of analytical reasoning facilitated by interactive visual interfaces, creative visualization and storytelling".

The overall objective of NCVA is to promote within education and research Geovisual Analytics in particular but also the more general Visual Analytics. To this end we must make sure that education is not left behind in this rapid evolution and can keep up with the international development. In various applied research projects innovative Geovisual Analytics techniques have been developed and used to build prototype visualization applications that educate academia with demonstrating and educational tools.

NCVA also provides access to innovative statistical visualization applications (developed by NCVA in collaboration with its spinoff company NComVA) based on the eXplorer family: World eXplorer, Europe eXplorer, Sverige eXplorer and the more general Mdim eXplorer.  

You can load your own data (EXCEL etc.), analyse and create your own stories!  Read more at: http://ncva.itn.liu.se/explorer  


"Our mission is to educate researchers and students in Geovisual Analytics and Storytelling, discuss problems and possible approaches to solving them, and define appropriate directions for further research"

Geovisual Analytics

Figure: Geovisual Analytics comprises several research topics including information visualization, geographical visualization, perceptual science and storytelling etc. Geovisual Analytics.png

NCVA applications













Figure: Examples of Geovisual Analytics applications produced in collaboration with partners during 2006-2013. 


Example of our Statistical Geovisual Analytics

'I have always believed that the very best results in dynamic visualization - the truly breakthrough innovations - are the results of cross-disciplinary collaboration. The NCVA OECD joined project brings together 'right brain' statisticians with the 'left brain' visualization designers. The interactions are incredible!'

 OECD Chief Statistician Enrico Giovannini

From an international perspective, our research builds on collaborating work with OECD since 2008. Between 2010-2013, the spin-off company NComVA supplied advanced and innovative statistics geovisual analytics technology to this organization http://stats.oecd.org/OECDregionalstatistics/ and http://rag.oecd.org/. Another important user is the European Commission that have used Statistics eXplorer since 2009 for internal analysis of data from Eurostat. In 2012, Eurostat decided to license the HTML5/JavaScript technology and tools from the spin-off company NComVA.

OECD eXplorer EU TL3Figure: Regional eXplorer "ageing population in regional TL3 Europe" http://stats.oecd.org/OECDregionalstatistics - An emerging and challenging statistical application domain is geovisualization of regional (sub-national) statistics. Higher integration driven by institutional processes and economic globalisation is eroding national borders and creating competition along regional lines in the world market. Sound information at sub-national level and benchmarking of regions across borders, therefore, has increased in importance in the policy agenda of many countries.

The interactive dashboard application below was developed by Eurostat based on our GAV HTML5/JavaScript visualization technique purchased in 2012 from the spin-off NComVA. The tool contains statistical data for European regions at NUTS2 level, grouped into different statistical domains. Using the interactive map, individual regions can be selected while different visualisation methods allow the comparison and analysis of regional data in a user-friendly analytical way. The animated timeline shows how regions have performed over time.

Eurostat NUTS2 Fertility

Figure: Regional Statistics Illustrated here with "Fertility Rates" contains different dashboards, which always feature a choropleth map on the left pane. On the right pane, the user can select four different views:

  • Distribution plot
  • Scatter plot
  • Bar chart
  • Data table

The Eurostat tool is available at: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/RSI/


World eXplorer

Figure: World eXplorer (Flash application) facilitates methods for exploring national statistics (countries of the world). Your own multivariate spatio-temporal data can be imported using various types of Excel formats or import data direct from the World dataBank. World eXplorer is available for your convenience at: http://mitweb.itn.liu.se/GAV/world/


NCVA started Research related to Storytelling already in 1999 called "SmartDoc"SmartDoc

SmartDoc was our first implementation of Storytelling and integrates interactive and collaborative visualization into reports in MS Word format. The normal contents of a report, text and images, are extended with interactive 2D/3D visualization. Data and bookmarks are integrated into the document structure, which make the SmartDoc just as easy to handle as a traditional document. The reader is given a more active role and can interact with the embedded data in order to gain a better understanding of the report’s contents. First publication:

Jern: “Smart Documents with ActiveX 3D Data Visualization Components”, reviewed article in “Digital Media: The Future”, Vince J. A., R. A. Earnshaw (Eds), Springer Verlag March 2000, ISBN 1-85233-246-8.

As social creatures, we love telling stories and sharing them in a good laugh with others. It doesn’t matter how dry or boring the subject inherently is. If someone can tell a good story, others will listen and enjoy it. Analytics visualization experts are challenged to elicit a strong engagement and wonder in our stories stimulating the readers’ curiosity making them want to learn more and convey a deeper meaning.

A picture is often worth a thousand words, an interactive visualization is worth a thousand pictures but interactive storytelling provides the true difference and that is "understanding" and "knowledge"

A storytelling mechanism assists the author to improve a reader’s visual knowledge. Authors can develop interactive educational material based on the 4Ws concept “What-When-Where-Why”. A story is composed of texts and visual representations together with snapshots, metadata, hyperlinks and references providing answers to the classical 4Ws questions (see figure below): “What” is the data? The data are shown for a given time step - “When”? Moreover time series can be viewed interactively and simultaneously in the in the linked graphs; “Where” is mostly considered in regional comparisons. “Why” is the most important aspect of the story and explained in the metadata text section together with snapshots and hyperlinks that enable users to further analyse aspects related to topics and are helpful tools for both specialised and non-specialised users.

Storytelling the 4 Ws



Figure: Interactive educational statistical material based on the 4Ws concept “What-When-Where-Why”


storytelling loop

Figure: Reiterate analytical storytelling loop - Statisticians with diverse backgrounds and expertise participate in creative discovery processes that transform statistical data into knowledge. Storytelling tools integrate this geovisual analytics process using collaboration. This knowledge exchange process develops a shared understanding with other statisticians and, after consensus has been reached, it can be placed in the public domain. The snapshot mechanism helps the author of a story to highlight data views of particular interest, and subsequently guide others to important visual discoveries.


The interactive picture below provides insight into several key statistical indicators covering world countries during 1968-2012.  We suggest that you start reading the storytelling text below the interactive picture and click on the red text (snapshots).


Interactive Figure: Example of a web side with an integrated "Vislet" based on public WorldData statistics 1968-2012 (indicators), educational text, map, motion charts, snapshots and time series. NOTE: Some indicators are NOT available for the last years and you might have to move the TIME SLIDER.

More Vislets (using Flash) is available at: http://ncvademo.blogspot.se/


interactive doc












Figure: Try also these two interactive documents from OECD and ISTAT. 

http://noi-italia2013en.istat.it/ and http://rag.oecd.org/

Linked and Coordinated Choropleth and Treemap

This European treemap visualization shows hierarchies in which the rectangular screen space is divided into several hundreds European statistical NUTS2 regions. Each region belongs to a country in the hierarchy. This colourful presentations accommodates thousands of statistical data items in a meaningfully organized display allowing patterns and exceptions to be spotted immediately. The size of the rectangle refers to "Total Population" while the colour attribute represents elderly population in Europe "age group 65+ in %". 

When the colour and size dimensions are correlated in some way with the tree structure, one can often easily see patterns that would be difficult to spot in other ways, such as if a certain colour is particularly relevant. We see that Germany has a high rate of eldery people while, for example, Poland has a younger representation 

Try this Dashboard Demonstrator: http://mitweb.itn.liu.se/GAV/dashboard/#story=data/nuts-regions-ageing-population-in-europe-2010.xml&layout=[map,treemap]

Another advantage of the treemap below is that, by construction, it makes efficient use of space and can display thousands of items on the screen simultaneously.

TreemapFigure: High resolution: Europe NUTS2 65 and above map and treemap STORY.jpg - Choropleth Map and Treemap visualization showing "Age Group 65+" in Europe for NUTS2 regions". Coloured rectangles in the Treemap represent the ratio of elderly people ("age group 65 and above"). The size of each rectangle in the Treemap represents the "Total Population". 

We know that the EU population is getting progressively older as a result of a significant and continuous increase in life expectancy at birth, combined with low fertility rates and the entry into retirement of the post-World War II baby-boom generation. The linked and coordinated treemap and choropleth map below presents information for the 270 NUTS2 regions in the EU with the highest and lowest shares of elderly persons (aged 65 and above) and their respective populations. A Storytelling panel in the interactive demonstrator gives a textual background and provides some snapshots.

To see the hierarchical structure. You must first set the treemap options as seen on this picture:

Tot Pop

Pop 65+

Group by: Country



In the treemap below - focus is restricted to only  regional Germany. A City Dusseldorf with 5,2 million people is represented by a small geographical area in the map but in the treemap - a larger rectangle represents Dusseldorf based on the size of its population and the darker red colour represents an ageing population of 22%.'




World Data Demonstrator Dashboard

Below is a World Map Dashboard with three coordinated and linked interactive views map, treemap and parallel coordinates 

world html5 demoThis World Map Dashboard with three linked and coordinated views is available at:  http://mitweb.itn.liu.se/GAV/dashboard/#story=data/Ageing Population in the World.xml&layout=[map,(treemap,pcp)]

To see the hierarchical structure in the treemap. You must first set the treemap options as seen on this picture:

Tot Pop

Pop 65+

Group by: Country


Collaborative Partners

NCVA and from 2010 spin-off company NComVA have collaborated with statistical organisations including SCB Statistics Sweden, OECD Paris, Eurostat, Norrköping Kommun, Linkoping Kommun and Göteborg Stad. But also industrial Ericsson Research in Linkoping and financial support for two industrial PhD students was provided by Unilever Research Port Sunlight and SMHI  (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute) Norrköping, and several European universities. Our visualization tools has during 2006-2013 helped these organizations to better understand the evolution of applying information visualization and geovisual analytics to multidimensional and multivariate data.






VINNOVA"En forskargrupp på Linköpings universitet har i samarbete med bl.a. OECD, SCB, SKL, Danmark Statistik och Göteborg Stad utvecklat revolutionerande interaktiva "berättande" visuella metoder (storytelling) som enkelt kan publiceras i media som bloggar eller integreras i Web sidor och spridas till miljoner läsare genom bl.a. en annan samarbetspartner engelska tidningen Economist. Istället för en statisk bild så publiceras interaktiva bilder tillsammans med en förklarande text. Läsaren kan också själv interagera med visualiseringen och därmed kanske bättre förstå hur författaren har tänkt. Forskningsprojektet som bl.a. finansierats genom KK-stiftelsens visualiseringsprogram har vid flera utvärderingar demonstrerat en världsledande teknologi"



Page manager: mikael.jern@liu.se
Last updated: 2015-03-28