Photography by:
  • Gareth Pon & Jhono Bennet

Advancing data visualisation

The GCRO is continuously striving to develop new and innovative ways for data to be shared, accessed and disseminated. In our first ten years, we have produced several original data visualisations including our maps of the month, vignettes, and State of the GCR websites for 2011 and 2013. However, new and more advanced forms of visualisations are constantly being developed globally and the GCRO needs to train and build skills and knowledge to keep pace with these exciting innovations in data visualisations. The ‘Advancing data visualisation’ project allows the GCRO to continue to capture the public imagination by presenting information in creative ways. Information disseminated in accessible and interesting formats has also proved successful with policymakers and government officials, and the GCRO continues to build on these successes.

Beyond the importance of sharing information in accessible and interesting ways, data visualisation has become a key area of urban research. Centres such as MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab and Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab produce important visual outputs, but also regularly use data visualisation as an integral part of the research process. The seamless integration of story maps, interactive vignettes, photo essays, videos, and GIS maps into research is the major outcome of this project.

In February 2019, GCRO staff attended two days of training on the principles of data visualisation facilitated by OpenUp.

Project History

This project was initiated by Guy Trangoš and Christina Culwick in 2014, and joined by Samkelisiwe Khanyile in 2016. During 2014 GCRO worked closely with the Wits School of Arts (WSOA) Digital Arts Department to develop combined interactive data visualisation projects for students. A selection of the visualisations produced by students, based on the Quality of Life III (2013/14) Survey data, were showcased at the QoL III launch. The selection can be viewed in the list below.

One of the key visualisations produced under this project has been ‘Gauteng as a village of 100 people’. In this interactive visualisation, based on the Quality of Life IV (2015/16) Survey data, 100 figures move around the surface of a 'village', responding to the user's queries by assembling and re-assembling themselves into groups representing the numerical results of the survey.

In 2019, the project Geovisual Analytics was merged with this project. Initiated in 2015 by Samy Katumba and Samkelisiwe Khanyile, Geovisual Analytics aimed to explore different state of the art techniques for preparing and visualising data in general, and geospatial data, in particular. The project was interested primarily in geovisual analytics, interactive mapping and storytelling through story maps. The project produced an interactive storymap, titled Transforming transport in the Gauteng City-Region. The project also engaged in a collaboration with the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies (GAES) at the University of the Witwatersrand to create a reading group focused on GeoVisualisation. Colleagues Mncedisi Siteleki, Samkelisiwe Khanyile, Samy Katumba and Dr Stefania Merlo (GAES) met on a regular basis to discuss geovisualisation.


GCRO interactive visualisations

The company we keep: The Quality of Life survey compared

The evolution of the Quality of Life questionnaire

Academic outputs using the Quality of Life data

Ten years of GCRO outputs

Gauteng as a village of 100 people

Shifting borders and bridges

Transforming transport in the Gauteng City-Region


What is the GCR?


We are here: Exhibition at Metropolis Annual Meeting 2018


Alexandra Parker (November 2018) 'Telling stories in research,' Intimate Partner Violence workshop, School of Public Health, 9 November 2018.

Alexandra Parker (September 2018). 'Telling stories in research,' Guest lecture, 3rd year BSc URP, University of the Witwatersrand, 11 September 2018.

Chris Wray (October 2015) ‘Showcasing urban innovation through GCRO’s urban data gallery’, Partnership for Urban innovation Colloquium, Ekurhuleni, 1 October 2015.

Samy Katumba (November 2015). ‘Telling the story of the Gauteng City-Region through a map of the month’ ESRI Africa User Conference, Cape Town, 11-13 November 2015

WSOA Interactive data visualisations 2014

In 2014 the GCRO worked closely with the WSOA Digital Arts Department to develop a set of interactive data visualisations based on our Quality of Life III (2013/14) Survey. A selection of the best projects is included below. Please click on each to download the program.

Should the program not run, please ensure that you have a Java Runtime Environment installed available here.

Jayson Junkoon - Does Gauteng trust itself?

Johara Mansura – Top 5 complaints from different income groups

Katherine Donald – Mine waste

Louwrens Ferreira – Types of pollution regarded as the biggest problem facing the community

Michelle McDulling – Gauteng’s biggest issues

Ricardo Tagliatti – Who uses Gauteng’s transport system?

Last updated: 9 July 2019


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