All I Want for Christmas is Clean Air

In China, over 1.3 billion people have high health risks associated with exposure to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The data says that the air quality in major cities in China exceeds the World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines (AQG). However, it is hard for people in the U.S. to experience that. 

About the PM2.5, I experience it myself. This is a real story:

In 2015, during the fall break, I went back to my hometown, a city near Beijing. Unfortunately, I experienced the days with severe PM2.5 pollution. I could hardly see the building next to me. I need to hold my breath and reduce the outdoor time. Even worse, my flight back to Guangzhou was canceled.

We want to tell the story because we want people who have never been in a city with severe PM 2.5 air pollution to be able to imagine what it is like to breathe in such an environment. In order to show that, we choose 3 cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu to form our story and create snow globes for each city. Each snow globe is filled with a certain amount of glitter to represent the 2017 average PM 2.5 amounts in each city normalized to the area of each city. This visualization would be an interactive experience. First, from the information box, the audience could know answer the question themselves. Then, we let the audience guess and rank the cities 1 to 4 from most to least polluted. Finally, the audience could shake the snow globes to see what the air pollution looks like visually and the answer is revealed as they pick up the globes.

The goal of this visualization is to quantify air pollution measured in PM 2.5 and to educate people about what PM2.5 really is. Many people are aware that air pollution is bad, but they are not familiar with the concept of PM 2.5. The particles in the air do not make it harder to breathe, but instead, breathing in a lot of these particles into the body can result in serious health effects.

We chose the presentation in the form of snow globes because it is an item that most people are familiar with and the reveal when the globes are shaken provide a nice surprise element. The black glitter was chosen to represent PM 2.5 because the metaphor of black particles as hazardous to health gives off a warning sign.

We would like this visualization to be an exhibit in a museum where people can interact with the snow globes. The snow globes are relatively small and the skyline is not easy to see clearly, so ideally we would have live video cameras that project onto a large screen, so when people pick up and shake the snow globes, they can see an enlarged version of the snow globes on a big screen and can clearly see what the skylines look like covered in the black glitter. Furthermore, if we could gather more data, we can make globes for more cities in China or even cities around the world.

What is PM2.5?

By Haley Meisenholder, Jay Dev, Yihang Sui, Kunyi Li

Yihang’s Data Activity Log: Feb 20

Data collected from the mobile devices: Phone and iPad Usage

  • All day: Received emails from MIT, friends and online shopping website
  • All day: Chatted with friends and families through Wechat
  • 12:10 PM: Scheduled a meeting reservation and added it to my calendar
  • 12:30-12:45 PM: Watched a short video on Youtube App
  • 1:00 – 4:30 PM: Took pictures of slides during lectures
  • 5:00 PM: Reviewed my Credit Card usage on Chase App
  • 5:13 PM: Made a phone call to the PCP
  • 5:22 PM: Updated my iPhone system
  • 5:31 PM: Updated the Apps on my iPhone

Data collected from computer

  • All day: Received emails from MIT, friends and online shopping website
  • All day: Searched on Google, including news, weather, and python guidance
  • All day: Watched videos on Youtube
  • 7:55 AM: Made changes to the meeting slides and uploaded to Dropbox folder
  • 8:00 AM: Started the Webex meeting through my computer
  • 9:35 AM: Downloaded the Atom software for class
  • 9:50 AM: Cloned the class material from Github
  • 10:43 AM: Connected to lab server and downloaded the test results
  • 1:00 – 4:30 PM: Used Evernote to take notes during lectures
  • 5:34 PM: Browsing on
  • 6:18 PM: Searched for a flight ticket
  • 7:00 PM: Wrote thesis on Overleaf
  • 8:47 PM: Installed python packages using pip install
  • 11:36 PM: Wrote the blog

Data collected from provider:

  • 11:15 AM: Paid for my lunch using the credit card
  • All day: Electricity usage of my apartment
  • All day: Geospatial data collected from FMS (MIT Mobility Survey App)
  • 8:15 PM: Pharos MIT Printer

Why the media isn’t the “enemy”

“How reporters around the world risk their lives for the truth”

As the Internet speeds up the spread of information, the world becomes more transparent. However, the journalists, who share the information with us, shoulder more of the danger.

Created by Luke Shuman, the visualization shows the number of journalists killed in 10 countries between 2000 and 2015. The goal is to draw the attention of media workers as well as the government. The authors want the reader to notice the dangerous situation of journalists and protect those journalists. Their target audience appears to be media workers and the government.

The authors use a world map as a base panel to show the number of casualties and add four more analysis based on the other data source. At the bottom of the picture, the authors examine the relationship between casualties and the media type, between casualties and press freedom index, between casualties and reporters’ employment status. Most important, the authors point out that the impunity rate is extremely high. Interestingly, there is a special sentence lies on the bottom, saying that “Data courtesy of Freedom House and the Community to Protect Journalists”. Apparently, the authors want the United Nations to help solve the crisis.

This is an effective visualization because it presents the “dead journalists” topic to the target audience and would successfully draw their attention. The important data is marked by red color, which stands out with the black base map. Furthermore, the high impunity rate stands out at the bottom and conveys the most important message to the audience: the global community must protect those who perform this vital service.

Although the visualization conveys the important message as the authors expect, some analysis seems unreasonable. For example, the conclusion that more news online means more dead internet journalists seems unreliable. As the internet grows fast, the number of internet journalists dramatically increases, which is obvious. We need to compare the ratio of death internet journalists and the ratio of print journalists to make a conclusion.