Visualisation of Nobel Peace Prize Winners

Every year since 1901, the Nobel Prize is an international award dedicated to outstanding achievements to humanity. There are prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature. It is administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden.

The most commonly recognised award is the award for peace, and this year, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been announced as Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. Personally, I love this award since it allows us, as humans, to stand and take stock of what we do to one another, and gives us a chance to put peace in the frame as a discussion point for the world.

The ever-brilliant Guardian Data Store has released data for every peace prize winner. I have taken this data, and visualised it to show the number of prize winners per country.  Here is the image, or click here for a larger image:

Tableau Nobel Prize Winners

To do this, I used Tableau. This tool is excellent because it recognises country names. However, when visualising data, it is important to be careful if you are just relying on country names alone. For the Nobel Peace Prize winners list, this proved problematic because country names can change over time, and Tableau seemed to recognise the most recent country list. For example, Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita Von Suttner won the award in 1905, and the country was then known as Austria-Hungary; now, it is known as the Czech Republic.

Also, countries can be known by more than one name, which can be difficult for software to negotiate.  For example, Burma is officially known as the Union of Myanmar, and East Timor is officially known as Timor-Leste.In this case, Tableau didn’t recognise ‘Great Britain’ but did recognise ‘United Kingdom’. So, you have to be very careful of your data; the software can only do so much for you, and you need to double check. Fortunately, Tableau has a ‘View Data’ option which allows users to double-check. A simple tip in Reporting Services is to add in a table which shows your base data, and then remove it before you complete the report. This will allow you to double-check that the report is really showing that which you would like it to show.

Additionally, country names can be deeply contentious; just look at the Middle East for some examples there. No software in the world is going to be able to resolve this; you have to be clear about whether you are using one country name or another. For this visualisation, I replaced ‘old’ names with the most up-to-date country names, and replaced the informal names given in the original data  (e.g. Burma) with the official name (Union of Myanmar).

To summarise, if you are using geographically-based display if data, be careful f you are relying on country names.  Be sure to check whether the country name is picked up properly. Tableau and Reporting Services can both use Longitude and Latitude, and Reporting Services 2008 R2 can use SQL Server 2008 Geography and Geometry data types for absolute certainty. More on this at a later point!

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