When data speaks…

Data is now at the heart of information. As a prelude to the Blois startup weekend on this theme, which will take place from November 18 to 20 at INSA, a conference on the visualization of information made it possible to measure the place of computer graphics.

By Jean-Luc Vezon

Example of data visualization. ©Jean-Luc Vezon.

The start-up Weekend Blois, followed by nearly 40,000 people on social networks last year, returns this year with a special thematic edition dedicated to data, the real “oil” of the 21st century. “To inspire future budding entrepreneurs but also to educate, the event is preceded by three conferences open to the general public (1). The second on the theme of data visualization, sponsored by the CCI41 is organized in partnership with the Millef’oeil association which brings together communication and visual creation professionals “, explained Franck Bataille, president of Loir-et-Cher Tech, which organizes the start-up weekend in Blois.

What are we talking about exactly? “Computer graphics is the graphic representation of phenomena and/or data. The term, born in the 80s in the USA, is the contraction of information and graphics »first explained François Prosper of the specialized agency Wedodata. Since then, the specialty has given rise to the profession of data journalist or information graphic designer responsible for enhancing data visually.

“A good sketch is better than a long speech” said Napoleon. Since antiquity, man has applied this precept with the first tablets of the Sumerians in Mesopotamia (3200 BC) which listed the crops. The industrial revolution will truly launch computer graphics. William Playfair invents histograms and curves, Charles Dupin choropleth maps, John Snow spatial analysis, Otto Neurath isotype, Jacques Bertin cartography… Charles-Joseph Minard leaves his name in history with the famous map of the retreat from Russia.

Across the Atlantic, the major media are appropriating it: USA Today created Snapshots in 1982 and in 2017, the New York Times made its editorial in infographics institutionalizing data journalism. Gulf War, 2008 crisis or health crisis give rise to the creation of visual elements combining texts, graphics, images, diagrams or even videos. Since 2010, powerful digital tools have accelerated the process.

Data visualization of socio-economic information

The example of the Observatory of the Economy and the Territories of Loir-et-Cher (OET 41) made it possible to measure the importance of data for local authorities. Made up of 120 members (including four departments), this association, based in Blois, delivers 120 studies per year, using a large amount of data, in particular thanks to its geographic information system (GIS) which makes it possible to collect, store, process, analyze , manage and present all types of spatial and geographic data.

“In recent years, the introduction of map interactivity via Web GIS applications (dataviz) makes the user an actor in the analysis”, told Lionel Henry director of this structure of 17 employees, unique in France. To clarify his point, the latter presented a whole series of Dashboards (dashboards) which visually represent important information on the same screen.

New technologies (such as the grid putting into perspective with INSEE data) now allow the OET to be ultra precise in its analyses. In the years to come, advances in artificial intelligence should further accelerate the development of data visualization.

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Lionel Henry, director of the Observatory of the Economy and Territories, territorial information platform, during his presentation. ©Jean-Luc Vezon.

(1) The 3ein partnership with the Banque Populaire Val de France, which will take place on November 15 (INSA Blois, 6 p.m.) will deal with data & the world of construction.

More info otherwise on Magcentre: Tours: CiviTime, the climbing startup

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When data speaks…

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