Perhaps the most famous data visualisation in history concerns water. In 1854, before the germ theory even existed, Dr John Snow created a dot map of cholera deaths in order to discover, visually, the source of the infection – a water pump – and to debunk the miasma theory of bad air.
Discovering new insights through visualisation is powerful precisely because we are much better at seeing visual patterns than looking at tables of numbers. Literally we turn the data into a landscape that we can explore with your eyes.
When we do this we become data detectives. We start to see patterns and relationships that would otherwise be scattered across numerous tables pointing to origins and causes.
And consider that the map needn’t be a snapshot; we can map rates of change or averages over years where the data is scattered across years of reports.
All water authorities have large numbers of data sets that no one has ever looked at visually. Imagine how costs could be reduced, problem sources identified and service improved if you could map:
- Areas of consistent poor delivery service levels
- Areas where service delivery has declined over a number of years
- Concentrations of asset component failures
- Hot spots of scada alarms this season
- Reaches where minimum delivery obligations cannot be met
- Concentrations and diffusion of poor water quality
- Excess river water that can be harvested
- Channel capacity that can be exploited by farmers
- Asset reliability
- Average water delivery per property over 20 years