Hide menu

National Center for Visual AnalyticsNCVA Logo

Welcome to the "World's Best Geovisual Analytics Educational Web site"

mikael pionjär

"Rock stars in Statistics Data Visualization"

National Center for Visual Analytics (NCVA) is a Swedish national research resource for Geovisual Analytics Geovisual Analytics.png funded in 2007 with financial support from the Swedish Knowledge Foundation's (KK-Stiftelsen) Visualization Program, VINNOVA and our industrial and government research partners (see below).

'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



Interactive statistical Visualization with Storytelling embedded into this Web Site

Statistical data have great potential to generate knowledge and serve as basis for decisions taken by many actors in society. We introduce an innovative web-enabled geovisual analytics platform for exploring geographic statistics data and subsequently publishing the analytics understanding and knowledge (see example "Vislet" below) in any web site. Our solution is based on richer and more dynamic visual user interfaces facilitating methods that can uncover hidden structures and relations and let the analyst present her findings and reasoning to a broader audience. The combination of a geovisual analytics explorer tool (explore, gain insight and understanding) and a visual publisher tool facilitating an authoring process that integrates statistics visual analysis, collaboration and publication based on the most ancient of social rituals “storytelling”. Telling a story about, for example, sustainable development over time and in addition let the reader dynamically participate through blogs (see below).  

The interactive picture below represents 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.

Try also the Mobile HTML5 version:



NCVA - Concept and Idea

The large and ever-increasing amounts of multi-dimensional, 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 Geovisual Analytics Geovisual Analytics.png in particular but also the more general Visual Analytics in Sweden. To this end we must make sure that industry, public sector and education is not left behind in this rapid evolution and can keep up with the international development and competition. In various applied research projects innovative Geovisual Analytics techniques will be developed and used to build prototype visualization applications that provide managers, analysts and experts in industry, public services and academia, with novel visual decision-making tools.

"Our mission is to develop, enhance and transfer the most advanced methods, tools and applications in Geovisual Analytics and Storytelling, discuss problems and possible approaches to solving them, and define appropriate directions for further research"


Storytelling is one of the most impactful ways to teach, learn, and persuade.

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.



NCVA is engaged in applied research about Geovisual Analytics and provides associate tools



Geovisual Analytics



















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


Collaborative Partners

NCVA collaborates with statistical organisations including SCB Statistics Sweden, OECD Paris, Eurostat, Norrköping Kommun, Linkoping Kommun, Göteborg Stad but also industrial Ericsson research Linkoping and Unilever Port Sunlight and Swedish SMHI Norrköping, and several European universities. Our visualization tools help these organizations to provide knowledge and advanced decision-making information and aims to contribute to increased social benefit and a sustainable society.






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"


Examples of Research Projects supported by VINNOVA

NCVA applications

Figure: Examples of Geovisual Analytics applications produced in collaboration with partners. GAV Flash Applikationer.png

Advances in web-enabled graphics technologies have made a dramatic impact on developing highly interactive Geovisual Analytics applications for the Web. An emerging and challenging 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.


Example of the World's best Statistical Geovisual Analytics


"Compare statistical data in a geographical map and a 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










Geographical Map and Treemap representing German NUTS2 regions

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%.




Geovisual Analytics with integrated Storytelling can be applied to Business data

With the growing amounts of data being captured, processed and analyzed by companies in the open and big data era, sophisticated Geovisual Analytics tools can be applied to get better understanding about the context from sales management to customer feedback for business users. Identifying adequate visualization methods for analysing these business data and extracting relevant knowledge is an interesting research topic for Geovisual Analytics.

Geovisual analytics recommends coordinated and linked visual representations could be the most effective means to convey information to human’s mind and prompt human cognition and reasoning. Storytelling technology is another critical component to be integrated into business applications. Time-spatial and multivariate data visualization can drive important decisions.

In the Geovisual Analytics interactive Demonstrator below exploring company sales management data - you can query this hierarchical data interactive and iterative and instantaneously view results in graphical form using a variety of chart types.


Treemap sales data





Figure: Traditional Sales Management Data in EXCEL - district-manager-sales person-sales result

  • Treemap displays hierarchical data as a set of nested  treemap structure        rectangles
  • Space-filling method to display trees by hierarchically partitioning the view space
  • Nodes are vertically and horizontally partitioned by their child nodes
  • Colour and size are used for variables attributes
  • Method that utilizes the screen space area very well
  • Well suited for overview visualizations

Interactive "Vislet" applied to to the Business Sales Management Data Above

Figure: Red rectangles means negative sales results! You can interactively select any red area and get more information about a sales person's performance.



Figure:The sales management data is here presented in interactive mode as "fish eye" bar chart (above) and a distribution plot. Both visualizations represent quite unique methods introduced and provided by NCVA.  


Page manager: mikael.jern@liu.se
Last updated: 2015-02-25