Data visualization: Making sense of our complex world

Signal Noise works across a number of sectors and for clients with different backgrounds.

The philosophy of the company is to simplify, beautify and be user friendly, by adding clarity, using design methodologies that are intuitive and engaging and making sure the solution has value.

The results can be illuminating and surprising. Data privacy does not obviously lend itself towards being graphically represented. However, when an overview of data breaches and accidental losses is brought together in one image, the results are impressive. Another example is the amount of words spoken in Hollywood movies by gender. The results are shockingly imbalanced.

One company working with Signal Noise was a telematics provider, with huge amounts of data it wanted to process into a simple scoring system to identify better drivers. The final graphic was presented in three dimensions and overlaid with Google Maps, featuring actual crashes, risk scores and fault detection. Other projects have demonstrated the level of gentrification in neighbourhoods through data such as proximity of fried chicken outlets. Gentrification can even be mapped and stratified, pioneering gentrification, expanding and mature gentrification. On the other side of the coin, one can identify regions of greater deprivation; and even speculate where riots might occur. There is even an element that can be meshed into future expectations, for example what might occur if a new underground station is built.

One challenging project involved designing a graphic illustration of a company's online security. It morphed into a visualisation of the whole company, so that, if there was an ISP outage for any reason, it could be tracked and the likely effects assessed over the organisation. Rather than digging out an old org chart or IT documents, the visualisation is a living capture of the security system.

Lastly, this approach to data can be mapped to individual health scores and profiles, building on the Biovotion spiral. This allows the ability to picture clearly an individual's health and fitness data in a way that best meets their particular needs; and which captures the many data points a wearable can produce in a comprehensible and intuitive diagram. This builds on a platform, through which insurers can effectively interact with their clients and the basis for solid engagement.


Summary of Hem Patel and Christian Thümer's presentation at the Centre's Health monitoring event in December 2017. Hem and Christian are both Co-Founder and Partner of Signal Noise. Summary by Simon Woodward.