Country/area: United States

Organisation: Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Institute for Higher Education Policy, Vote Run Lead, World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, WILDLABS, United Nations Foundation’s Digital Impact Alliance

Organisation size: Small

Cover letter:

At Graphicacy, we tell engaging stories through data visualization for mission-driven clients, causes, and initiatives. Our team combines storytelling, human-centered design & deep technical capabilities to build data-rich digital projects. The common thread throughout our data projects and story-telling work is the idea of visualizing a better world through meaningful collaboration, partnership, and service. We view our data visualization toolkit and work as a hedge against misinformation and the showcasing of stories around the most impactful issues of our time. As displayed in our portfolio of work in 2021, we have delivered on work in the areas of COVID19 and Public Health, Equity in Education, Gender Disparities, Sustainable Cities, Climate Change, Digital Infrastructure and Development, and Conservation Technologies.

Nathaniel Pearlman, Graphicacy’s president, has been visualizing data for more than two decades; his interest goes back as far as his first statistics class with Edward Tufte in 1988. Nathaniel majored in computer science at Yale and he finished all but his dissertation in MIT’s political science doctoral program. Outside of academics, Nathaniel is an experienced entrepreneur. He founded NGP Software, Inc. in 1997 (now NGP VAN, Inc.) to join his interests in politics and technology and grew that company into the market leader in fundraising and compliance software for progressive political campaigns. Nathaniel served as Chief Technology Officer for the Hillary Clinton for President campaign in 2007-8. In 2009, Nathaniel founded Graphicacy for information graphics consulting and services.
Since 2009, the company has been growing rapidly. Graphicacy is a small, adaptive, and creative group of ten data-savvy designers and communicators. With varying technology toolkits, the team is aligned in our focus to deliver timely and targeted visualizations to help bring clarity to a noisy informational landscape. What we lack in numbers is made up for in our ability to strategically partner and collaborate with mission-driven organizations. This fact has made us resourceful and collaborative, which is at the heart of our view of good storytelling work.

We believe that data alone is meaningless, and the unearthing of insights and visual display of information to our readers and audiences is a pivotal part of our success. Our goal is to empower readers and audiences to explore and interrogate data and information and ask better questions about the world around them. While we may not consider ourselves a data journalist newsroom, we think deeply and genuinely about the power of data, good journalism, and thoughtful design.

We appreciate the opportunity to be considered for the Sigma Awards because we believe in the importance of a united and galvanized community of people working together in the data journalism space. We want to play our part and contribute to building relationships with people and organizations using data journalism as a tool for social change.

Description of portfolio:

In a year when fiction often passed for fact, Graphicacy had the privilege of helping mission-driven organizations share important, engaging, and profound stories built on data for audiences worldwide. Whether raising awareness, shaping policy decisions, or driving action, the data visualization projects our team worked on in 2021 covered a spectrum of goals and issues. We drew tremendous inspiration collaborating with professionals devoted to improving the human condition on so many fronts. The described project links highlight our year of work.

COVID-19 and Public Health: Our relationship with Johns Hopkins University expanded in 2021 with updates of two projects launched in 2020 focused on the coronavirus response. As the pandemic evolves in our lives, the JHU Coronavirus Resource Center, which TIME magazine dubbed “2020’s Go-To Data Source,” continues to allow users to explore the current conditions of COVID-19 in their state and track progress via charts or map-based visualizations.

With the VIEW-hub data visualization platform for the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, our team worked to increase the focus on fast-moving COVID-19 vaccine research. In November, The New York Times used VIEW-hub data as the basis for its article on waning vaccine effectiveness.

Equity in Education: We transformed research from the Postsecondary Value Commission into an interactive Equitable Value Explorer for the Institute for Higher Education Policy, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. According to a Forbes article from November, the tool aims to “help higher education leaders ‘know their numbers’ so they can implement evidence-based policies promoting economic mobility and social equity.”

Gender Disparities: With their RUN/51 initiative, Vote Run Lead strives to establish female majorities in every state legislature by 2031. We developed an interactive scrollytelling tool that shows users how long it will take their states to achieve that majority based on current data.

Sustainability: Graphicacy helped the World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities paint a vivid picture of the urban services divide with the Seven Transformations for More Equitable and Sustainable Cities.

Conservation: We had the honor of working with the WILDLABS team to visualize their first-ever State of Conservation Technology Report. A December article in The New York Times called out the many ways technology teaches us about nature and the WILDLABS data.

Digital Development and Infrastructure: On the global level, we also worked with the United Nations Foundation’s Digital Impact Alliance to create an interactive online Catalog of Digital Solutions. With this tool, the world’s development community can learn about digital technologies to aid their efforts and see how others have applied them in specific use cases.

We’re proud of the work we produced in 2021 and are grateful for your consideration for the Sigma Awards.

Project links: