FLUflux is a data visualization project that I carried out in collaboration with media artist Jihyun Kim at the Media Lab Prado, during the Visualizar 09 workshop. I described this project in a previous post, and here I’ll comment on some improvements done recently to the visualization interface.
The main goal of FLUflux is to show how so-called “global pandemics” (SARS, avian flu and, more recenly, swine flu) affect worldwide flight travel. Flight data gathered since 1990 by the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics is very rich in correlations between the influx of people traveling by plane, and specific historical events. In FLUflux, we focus in the occurrence of SARS, H5N1 and H1N1 as the historical events of interest.
This project represented an opportunity to try out different visualization metaphors for the kind of data we were dealing with (passenger counts, infection spread, online news). An interesting approach in the original version of FLUflux consisted in using an abstract representation of flight data, where nodes in a network are countries and the length of the edges connecting two nodes is proportional to the number of passengers flying between the countries. Using this representation we can actually see how the whole network steadily “shrinks” since the early 1990s:
However, this representation obscures somehow the geographical nature of the data. Because of this reason we implemented a new mode in FLUflux, where a worldmap in standard equirectangular projection is used to draw the endpoints of the flight routes on. The original network representation is still available by selecting the corresponding option in the main interface of the FLUflux applet. Click on the image below to access the interactive visualization:
We also updated the flight data from BTS in order to cover the entire time period corresponding to the initial spread of H1N1.