I had an opportunity to travel to UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal for two weeks to support their Emergency team with Data Visualization.

My first mission was to help the emergency team with visualizing the emergency situation in Central Africa Republic (CAR). The purpose of the visualization was to help decision-makers to make effective decision on where to take action. The data is collected in the field using a survey that covers different areas such as Health, Nutrition, Protection, Sanitation and Education.

The survey consists of 54 questions and outputs a massive raw data shown below. (Click to enlarge).


How can emergency team take this raw data and make it actionable? What is the most important part of it and how can we analyze this data quickly and effectively?

The data provides the quick overview of the situation so it is very important for the visualization to be clear and easy to understand:


For the mock-up, we focused on the visualizing health data as an example. As a team, we identified which data demonstrate health demand and supply. We the picked number of people injured to show the demand and picked the availability of staff, medicines and beds to show supply.

I used a simple bar graph and heat map to represent demand and supply data. I chose a heat map for the supply section because the data was provided in a yes or no format and the heat map is helpful in quickly seeing seriousness of the situation.

I created these mock-ups in a design program, but these simple graphs and charts can be created in Excel. More importantly, finding the data to tell a story and using the right visualization is key to actionable data.

Minsun Mini Kim, Interaction Design Fellow at Innovation Unit
work | blog | @minsunmini

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