Industry experts lead Introduction to Visualization workshop

Industry experts lead Introduction to Visualization workshop

A free one-day workshop led by the Centre's Professor Min Chen and Dr Jon Blower of the Institute for Environmental Analytics, provided expert insight for over 30 participants into the fast-moving and fast-growing area of visualization.

Visualization is key to meeting the challenge of understanding and communicating complex data in many different disciplines.

The course was created by the Centre with the Institute for Environmental Analytics (IEA) and covered key topics including the role of visualization, the relative merits and limitations of important techniques in visual analytics, and the theoretical and technical challenges which need to be addressed. Participants on the fully-booked workshop ranged from PhD students to environmental consulting service providers and computational ecologists.

The day featured a series of presentations and demonstrations from professionals in the field as well as industry presentations fromTableau Software, Geovisionary, MathWorks and Microsoft Power BI. One of the participants commented, "Jon Blower's talk on overview of web-based visualization techniques was very relevant to my work". Others described the most useful elements of the workshop being "overview on issues, practices and software", "new concepts and knowledge" and the "practical advice and examples".

Professor Chen, the Centre's Professor of Scientific Visualization, in his talk 'What is visualization really for?', examined five myths in big data intelligence and described the latest mathematical confirmation about the cost-benefit of using visualization in data intelligence, supporting his presentation with details of several real-world applications. He also described some great visualizations through history, and introduced the 4 levels of visualization: disseminative, observational, analytical and model-development.

Dr Blower, Chief Technical Officer of the IEA, examined some of the most commonly-faced issues when creating visualizations from environmental data, covering topics including choosing appropriate colour scales, understanding map projections, options for visualizing uncertainty and the use of 3D and animations. His presentation is now available on.

He also gave an overview of web-based tools and libraries, with a particular focus on open-source tools, also discussing what has worked well in IEA projects.

Two of the participants gave lightning talks about visualizations they had been involved with and these were analysed by Professor Chen and Dr Blower with input from the audience.

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Professor Min Chen: What is visualization really for? presentation slides                      Youtube video

Professor Min Chen: 4 levels of visualization presentation slides                                   Youtube video

Dr Jon Blower: Best Practice in Environmental Data Visualization presentation slides    YouTube video

Dr Jon Blower: Overview of Web-based Tools presentation slides                                 YouTube video