How do you make complicated and dull statistics interesting? Power Point presentations, the most common way of displaying ideas, processes and information is losing its allure. But there are more interesting ways of showing complicated data so that anyone can interact and understand the information.
Four students at Dedan Kimathi University, Nyeri, seem to have cracked the communication barrier between scientific research and presenting the findings through data visualization. The four have come with a data visualization platform – www.ufahamu.or.ke
Anthony Oroko says they developed the platform to “make sense of raw data and display it in an easy to understand,” hence the Swahili word of understand (ufahamu). Oroko adds that Ufahamu is a tool of mapping data on maps while establishing relationships, with a bias in health information.
“It is a visual representation of data which basically means information that has been abstracted in some schematic form, including attributes or variables for the units of information,” explains Oroko, the Project Manager at Ufahamu.
Oroko, who is also the co-founder, is part of the team Ufahamu comprising of; Denis Munene (Co-founder/Lead Developer), Janet Maranga (Lead Operations), and Robert Njathika (Lead Researcher).
Data visualization can send a million messages in just one image. But how can this be of relevant to society?
“With this power of relaying information our ability to combine different datasets representing various domains of interest on health, such as Malaria, Cancer and Diabetes among others, can be of great impact in decision making…in preparing government budgets or non-governmental programs,” Oroko expounds.
He gives an example of how the central government can use Ufahamu Kenya to plan, strategize and relay information to each and every county via a single Map of Kenya that can be daubed in the data visualization platform.
The Ufahamu team uses sophisticated geoJSON technology by combining NASA geodata and health data from reliable open data repositories like opendata.go.ke and visualizes it on a map that helps to communicate awareness of health related issues in relation to the resources available in its databases.
Ufahamu team has won several awards for their data visualization project including ‘Innovation of the Year 2012’ at a Hackathon at 88mph and ‘The International Space Apps Challenge by NASA’. This year they got a chance to represent Kenya at the Open Data Conference dubbed Okfest in Helsinki, Finland.
Like most start-ups, they had to pool resources to establish Ufahamu Kenya three years ago when they were starting, but with time they have managed to partner with other local companies in the same field.