2021 Shortlist

Where are the 2015 asylum seekers now?

Country/area: Finland

Organisation: Helsingin Sanomat HS.fi

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 5 Dec 2020

Credit: Jussi Konttinen, Antti Yrjönen, Ea Vasko, Konstantin Neugodov, Antti J. Hämäläinen, Anssi Miettinen, Juho Salminen, Lauri Malkavaara

Project description:

In 2015 Finland saw over 30 000 asylum seekers coming to Finland. It was a number that this small country had not seen before. This story investigates what has happened to these people. This is done by collecting data from Finnish immigration officials and by interviewing the immigrants themselves.  

Impact reached:

To our knowledge this was the first time that this topic was investigated in Finland to this extent. The biggest impact was that the first time the data was presented to the public in this concise format and the data was also given a face – which is important. 

Techniques/technologies used:

In the visualizations every circle represents 10 asylum seekers that came to Finland in year 2015. Altogether there were 32 477 of them. 

The animations progress on scroll to visually show different demographic distributions of this group of people and their different destinies. 

The animations are made with HTML Canvas controlled by GSAP ScrollTrigger. 

What was the hardest part of this project?

Two things: 

Getting the data from the officials. Even though the Finnish Immigration Service offers some data in their data portal it does not answer the basic question here: of those who came to Finland, how many have been granted an asylum, how many have been deported, how many are still in the process etc.  

We finally got the data from the officials but the numbers don’t exactly add up in the end. That is because the number of people we know from 2015 is counted in persons but officials now count decisions – and one person can have multiple decisions made about him/her.  

This said, we still managed to show the big picture. 

What can others learn from this project?

Sometimes it is a good idea to check back on things that were big news in the past. This is especially true about data journalism using data from official sources because usually it takes time before the data is available.  

Returning to a major news topic after few years can bring new light to the whole topic. This added with interviews of people who are affected by all this brings the data a face. 

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