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Visualizing World Happiness

Role: Data Scientist, Designer
Collaborators: Lila Finch, Daniel Frost, Matilda Whitemore, Adam Siefkes
Type: Information Visualization, Physical Prototyping


Every year, the United Nations releases a ranking of the world's happiest countries using data from the Gallup World Poll. The ranking is calculated using factors such as GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption. For an undergraduate course in information visualization, my team hoped to share insights from this data with the public by creating a physical interactive information system. We wanted users to be able to gain insight into interesting relationships, trends, and outliers through discovery and exploration. Our hopes were that through this process, we could make data more accessible to the public, as well as inspire empathy and understanding. Our project was displayed in the front lobby of the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado, Boulder.



Analyzing the Data

We started by visualizing the data in Tableau and running preliminary statistical analysis in R to uncover interesting findings and scope our design.

R, Excel, Tableau

Designing the Visualization

After turning to the literature to understand previous successful data exploration systems, we brainstormed and sketched design concepts.

Secondary research, sketching

Construction & Assembly

We cleaned and imported the data using Python, and created a program to regulate LED lights. To construct the visualization, we used a laser woodcutter to create a map of the world, a table saw to cut bars, and a lot of hot glue to bring everything together.

Python, electronics, woodworking

Results & Lessons Learned

ObservingĀ individuals explore the visualization in a naturalistic setting, we noted the unique discoveries they were making. This led us to conclude that our goal in making the dataset accessible to the public was a success.

View Report


Construction Timelapse