Let me start by giving a small introduction before you read further.
The concept of making data open to the public doesn’t ring the bell for many technology leaders in Nepal especially government officials. Open Data is still unheard and usually feared in Nepal. Open Nepal is an organization which aims to promote openness in data availability and transparency through community engagement and provide support and tools for better access and analysis of data. They organizes various events throughout the nation to advocate open data and show its usefulness in our community. Open Nepal Hackathon was one of their such initiative and I was one of the fortunate ones to get a chance to participate. The whole idea was to think of an idea, build it’s prototype and pitch it in a single day (well, that’s hackathon..).
But all the participants had to use data that are freely available.
As unfortunate as it may seem, many data in Nepal are not publicly available (for reasons above, untold and unknown). The ones available aren’t in a forms that we, developers, could easily use them. We had to either scrape the data from available pdfs or html, which is always a big big pain in the ass.
I was lucky to work with three awesome people – Rhoit, Manish and Surakhya – to build a simple product that we called – Blood+. The concept was simple – to build a visualization of blood donors in Nepal. The problem that we face in Nepal in every sector is that data is collected but never visually analyzed and presented in a form understandable by all. Same was the case for Blood Donors in Nepal. Yes, data were present in the tabular form but that’s about that. We wanted to show how visually displaying a data in an interactive way can make a huge difference in the overall analysis of data.
One might say that visualization can’t play a big role in improvement or analysis. But, I believe that visualizing data is the first step to understanding the hidden gems in the data and finally, our community. Showing data in a form easily understandable can help find the gaps, realize and improve the overall analysis and understanding.
The whole visualization would easily answers questions like: Which zone should I run my next campaign for blood donation? Which area should I have focus to have more youth to sign up for blood donation? Which age group is least active in blood donation and how can I convince them to donate?
How we built it?
Rhoit, our data extraction guru, did all the hard work of grinding out and extracting blood donor data from our source website (hamroblood.org). The raw html page were extracted using his shell-voodoo magic.
Then they were processed to get a perfect csv files that our visualization tools could make use of. The website had names of blood donors, so we needed a bit of processing to get counts of donors from each and every district age-wise and blood group-wise.
The visualizations were done with animated sortable bar charts, pie charts and hierarchical graphs. All our visualization libraries that we used were from D3.js. No rocket science there, just a little practice and experience will help you learn the tricks and treats of hacking a simple visualization within minutes. We already had a SVG of the map of Nepal, thanks to jQueryNepalViz.
After the data were hooked up to the charts, we hacked up a simple page for the pitching ceremony.
Overall, I believe we did a great job in completing our goal in a single day. Our results were well acknowledged as we were awarded with the 1st runner up prize along with a chance to present our work to various NGOs and INGOs. A great experience!
Pictures and more pictures:
Pitching the idea