2023 Shortlist

Tagesspiegel Innovation Lab

Entry type: Portfolio

Country/area: Germany

Publishing organisation: Der Tagesspiegel

Organisation size: Big

Cover letter:

Actually, it all started over a beer in a pub. That’s where the idea for the Radmesser project was born in 2018. At the time, we used sensors to measure how closely cyclists were being overtaken by motorists. It was to become the Innovation Lab’s first project. In January 2019, the team was officially founded. Four years have passed since then. Four became eight team members. Now, three journalists, four programmers and one designer work in the Lab. The projects are more professional, technically better and reach a much larger audience.

Especially in 2022, the team has proven how outstanding it has become. Our portfolio shows a variety of topics and data visualizations, quite a few of them are live graphics.

How the ideas come about varies greatly. Of course, as the data team of a daily newspaper, we care about current issues. At the same time, we want to develop our own spin on these topics as much as possible. We succeed in doing this by using special forms of presentation, but also by using different data sources or machine learning for analysis. To get even better access to data, we cooperate with universities and startups. Next to that, we also take part in internationally investigations. And in contrast to other media, we do most research in our Lab team in-house. Precise work and factchecking always have priority. Technically, we are oriented at the fast-faced best practice of international teams. We use Svelte, D3 and prerendering technology.

Of course, we are not only technically inspired by other media – exciting links to stories with exciting forms of presentation also end up in the team channel as well as new data sets. What is important to us: If we use another medium as inspiration, this is of course indicated.

After just a few years, the Innovation Lab has become an established data team in Germany. We are delighted if we are considered for the award.

Description of portfolio:

The Innovation Lab’s portfolio primarily includes dataviz and visual stories on various topics – from interactive calculators to scrollytelling to live graphics. A quick overview on the stories we handed in:

For our YouTube and dataviz series „Papaya and Fries“, which was about migrant kitchen and climate change, we built an interactive climate impact calculator for cooking. This can be used to calculate exactly how much CO2 a dish consumes. The data comes from the API of the startup Eaternity, which deals with CO2 balancing.

An animated scrollytelling with the most important foodstuff furthermore made possible to quickly compare the values and understand, why for example chicken can be much more climatefriendly than many vegetarian aliments made from milk – or, why vegan produce will always be more climate friendly, even if imported.

In our live article on the Ukraine war, the map shows the course of the war, most current research by media all over the world as well as the locations of significant fighting and tropu movements. It is updated daily. Other graphics in the article data such as support payments to Ukraine, refugees and air strikes. Per month the article gets an average of more than 500.000 clicks. It is among the most successful published pieces.

The war in Ukraine showed in sad clarity how dependent Germany is on Russian gas. The Tagesspiegel Innovation Lab has therefore built a gas simulator in exchange with scientists, where everyone can try out for themselves how different measures and decisions could interact when the discussion about them was most vibrant last summer.

Because fake videos are used for disinformation in the Ukraine war, we show how easy it is to make such videos with our own Deep fake. And where the limitations are.

The „Temperature Monitor„ is also a live graphic and is intended to give a rough impression of how “normal” the weather is right now. Daily weather data and forecasts come directly from German Weather Service APIs. With a methodologically very transparent display it shows how – over time – a dramatic climatic trend is created from weather fluctuations.

The consequences of climate change could be observed especially well in the summer of 2022. In 2022, many rivers had too little water. We use graphics based on water height measurements and satellite images to show how serious the situation is.

With visual formats we tell the story of the nely started oil production in Uganda from the beginning – using 3D maps; data sets and satellite images around the logistical large-scale operation and the ecological risks.

Regularly, we use data to work locally and map neighborhoods – for example, with the green space map. It shows which neighborhoods have particularly poor environmental factors. Readers could explore their neighborhoods. The map was our most successful subscription piece.

In addition to current topics, the Innovation Lab is part of the European Cities Investigative Journalism Accelerator, in which it leads the data management and dataviz for the whole network of 12 European media organisations. It’s a network of European media dedicated to researching common challenges facing major European cities and countries. In focus so far is mainly housing. The research on Student Housing is a part of this.

Project links: