The Economic Impact of COVID-19 in Canada

Country/area: Canada

Organisation: Radio-Canada

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 16 Jul 2020

Credit: Nael Shiab, Santiago Salcido, Melanie Julien, with the collaboration of Daniel Blanchette Pelletier and Mélanie Méloche-Holubowski

Project description:

In this project, I coded myself, 4 economic experts, and 5 economic indicators in 3D. The idea was to invite the readers to explore with me the economic impact of the COVID 19 pandemic in Canada. Since economic numbers could be boring for the general public, I decided to create a video game like experience to inform and entertain the readers at the same time!

Impact reached:

The readers loved the experience and emailed me saying they wanted more topics explained this way! The fact that it worked very well on mobile phones was also something they enjoyed a lot.

Techniques/technologies used:

I created a React (javascript library) custom template to keep the visualization visible at all times, while the user presses on the arrows on the side of the screen (or the arrows on its keyboards) to move from a scene to the other. For mobile phones, I coded the template to use the swipe gesture, which is more natural for touch screens. For the 3D universe, I used ThreeJS (javascript library) to create the 3D scenes and to animate them. Behind the hood, it’s using the WebGL technology.

What was the hardest part of this project?

I had to learn how to use the ThreeJS library by myself. It’s mostly used for commercial purposes or video games. But I couldn’t find great examples for journalistic data visualization purposes! So I had to figure out many things by myself. I also coded several Node.js scrapers to retrieve the indicators data.

What can others learn from this project?

With this project, I think other reporters can learn how 3D dataviz could help to explain complex topics to the general public. 3D scenes have an extraordinary potential for immersive experiences. On top of it, it uses WebGL technology which makes the dataviz very efficient, even on mobile phones.

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