National Academies Press: OpenBook

Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies (2017)

Chapter: Chapter 5: Conclusion

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Page 36
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5: Conclusion." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24755.
Page 36

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36 To envision information … is to work at the intersection of image, word, number, art. Edward Tufte Transportation planning is a field and an industry built for visualization. Information of relevance to planners can be readily illustrated, be it the design alternatives for a project, traffic flow in the peak hour, bicycle mode share, or color-of-money. Transportation professionals must also frequently communicate plans, objectives, and justifications to lay stakeholders and a public in which “everyone who drives thinks they’re a traffic engineer.” Visualization is… taking advantage of the fact that we are so programmed to understand the world around us in terms of what we see. Fernanda Viegas When visualizing information, you should expect that many in your audience will likely “just look at the pictures.” Not only should a visualization tell a story, but it should tell a complete story, with a subject, a function, and a desired outcome. Visualizations need to succeed in two areas: be engaging, and be easily understandable. Jean-Daniel Fekete Because your visualization is designed around your audience, you should use imagery that speaks to them. Use colors that correspond to a client’s logo, or to a local sports team. Use human-recognizable objects to create pictograms in place of bar or bubble charts. Use logos in place of text to take advantage of their brand equity and immediate recognition. Above all, provide information clearly to send the message that you are both a reputable and innovative source for that information. The first sign that a visualization is good is that it shows you a problem in your data. Martin Wattenberg For even simple datasets, visualizing can provide insight that leads to better data and, in turn to better visualizations. This positive feedback loop is at the core of complex and interactive data visualization, and the refinement of both end products increases with each iteration. Text intentionally left small to focus the reader on the overall image.

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TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Web-Only Document 226: Data Visualization Methods for Transportation Agencies provides techniques for planners who have various levels of experience with displaying and reporting information in a visual format. The publication includes practices for developing visualization skills, enhancing transportation analysis, and improving public engagement.


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