This report identifies and recommends best practices to
National Statistics Institutes (NSIs) in the presentation and visualisation of official statistical
information on the internet.
This report consists of four chapters. The first includes a brief introduction and description of the
importance of the project, with a case study that illustrates how good data visualisation can benefit
NSIs. The second chapter catalogues the types of data visualisations found across NSIs as a result of
a stock take that was carried out.
Chapter three reviews the results of the stock take, grouping the tools and technologies into four
broad categories and discussing the benefits and drawbacks of each. Case studies are used to
demonstrate which tools and technologies are most suitable to different types of NSIs.
The report ends with some recommendations on how NSIs can move forward and use data
visualisations and interactive graphics to enhance their outputs and engage with a wider audience.
This report is an output of the e-Frame (European Framework for Measuring Progress) project.
e-Frame is a major international project which aims to provide a European framework for the debate over the measure of well-being and progress. The project involves a broad range of activities including conferences and workshops, as well as research and the development of guidelines. It is led by two major European National Statistical Institutes (NSIs), ISTAT (in Italy) and the CBS (in the Netherlands), and includes amongst the partners two other NSIs (the French INSEE and the UK ONS), the OECD, and several universities and civil society organisations. It is funded by the EU FP7 Work Programme.
Official Statistics are fundamental to good government, to the delivery of public services and to
decision making in all sectors of society. It is widely understood that to encourage understanding and appropriate use of statistics, it is
necessary to develop and implement best practice in data presentation and invest in good quality
data visualisation tools. The European Framework project centres on the development of a range of
indicators for measuring a nations economic performance and social progress. The wider
understanding and acceptance of these measures will depend heavily on the availability of data
visualisation tools and skills to communicate the results.
Data visualisation appeals to National Statistics Institutes (NSIs) because of its capacity to engage
users and increase the potential outreach of official statistics. But data visualisation is a broad field,
with content types ranging from simple infographics, static charts, maps and tables, to interactive
charts, maps and tables that include narratives to guide the user, through to dashboards and other
more sophisticated tools that enable the user to conduct more exploratory data analysis.
The use of data visualisation by European NSIs is increasing steadily, as a result of individual NSIs
adopting largely different strategies/approaches such as developing programming skills and taking a
largely independent in-house approach or purchasing software or skills from outside the office. To
date the sharing of data visualisation experiences has taken a very ad-hoc approach, such as
presentations of tools and methods at the European Dissemination Working Group and sharing of
visualisation approaches and templates on a per request basis. There could be greater movement forward in the take-up and development of visualisation work within NSIs if there were more opportunities for sharing of ideas and experiences with other NSIs.
A further challenge for NSIs, once they begin building their portfolio of visualisation tools, is to
effectively utilise the potential outreach of the media to ensure these new and interesting products
reach the widest possible audience.
Download the Report
Shayla Leib and Zoe Hartland, Office for National Statistics