Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viégas have been working in data visualisation for many years now and are currently leading Google’s “Big Picture” research visualisation group. In 2012, they created a great personal project: The “Wind Map”. It visualises in realtime winds blowing across the United States.
At the time of writing this post, strong winds were flowing across the middle of the country, while towards the East and the West coast, winds were rather quiet (above). The screenshot below shows a completely different picture: a snapshot of October 29th, 2012 with hurricane Sandy raging across the eastern part of the country.
Data for this visualisation are drawn from the US National Digital Forecast Database. Being a personal art project, the map is not dedicated to providing scientists or sailors with exact data, but to show the impact of wind across a large area.
Wind is a strong force. But however crazy it may be raging, you can’t see it. This data map is “visualisation” in the literal sense of the word: make a picture of something, render something visible. Take a look at how the wind is blowing across the US while you are reading this.
I wasn’t aware of that either, thanks for the hint, Andrew!