Sailing to Tallinn

Category: Best visualization (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Finland

Organisation: Helsingin Sanomat

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 8 Sep 2019

Credit: Elisa Bestetti, Emma-Leena Ovaskainen, Saara Tammi, Kaisa Rautaheimo, Iines Vikiö.

Project description:

We scraped the data of boat routes, types and home country in the Finnish Gulf during one day in August 2019. The boat routes in Finnish Gulf are among the busiest in the world with daily ferries between Finland and Estonia and tankers going to St. Petersburg and back. In the story the reader can follow a sailing boat’s trip from Helsinki to Tallinn along others at the same time in the same sea area. Annual traffic data of the route was also illustrated in the graphics of the story. 

Impact reached:

The story got very positive feedback over its fluent user experience and on-the-spot feel. It combined reportage storytelling to traffic data during the sail which reporter and photographer made their story. It also broadened readers awareness how it actually is to navigate in the one of the busiest boat routes in the world. The story was made right after a deadly collission in the Finnish Gulf, so it also had strong educational mission: the route is really busy and you should act accordingly as a private boater as well.

Techniques/technologies used:

GPS data was collected for all the duration of the sailing. At the same time marine traffic data was fetched from the API www.digitraffic.fi/en/marine-traffic/. The dataset were joined and visualised on a map using d3.js.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Challenge after the scraping was to reduce the datasets to an acceptable size for the web. We worked especially hard on combining the data and the narrative storytelling to create a feel of a boat trip that is going forward and at the same time provides the reader with a lot of information.

What can others learn from this project?

The story made us realize it’s possible to combine live traffic data and visual storytelling into format that follows classic reportage but still creates new digital storytelling with strong data.

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