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How data presentation is helping the Mexico Data Observatory get local information into the hands of a wide range of individuals


Mexico’s Data Observatory works alongside the local government, organisations representing citizen’s interests and universities. One of its aims is to communicate data in such a way that it can be understood not only by experts but by the whole population. It had previously been using PDFs to present data but decided it needed to investigate other ways of doing this.

Salomon Gonzalez Arellano is Professor Investigator at the Observatory and faculty member of the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana says that one of the drivers for them was to make the data accessible by a wide range of individuals – even to teenagers needing insight for their homework.

“We felt that we didn’t need a typical map server because that would require a large investment and not everyone would be able to use it,” he says. “We decided to look for another way to communicate our work.”

Getting started

The Observatory first came across InstantAtlas in 2005 through a design agency that was interested in geographical information systems (GIS). However, it was several years before the Observatory was given funding. Once given the go-ahead the team started working with the data so that it could be presented in a usable format. There are two kinds of data that it collects. First are the urban indicators for Mexico which include data on transport, water supply and security – this comes from the government. Second are the results of surveys which include subjective data about how citizens rate the services provided.

Mexico City Data Observatory

Meeting the need

Salomon says that now the data is available through InstantAtlas it is being used by a wide range of individuals. “The primary user group are individuals involved in local government. They are very interested to know how Mexico’s citizens value the services provided. The information provided by the Observatory helps it to understand whether the services provided are meeting the need. Another important group of users are social organisations and students who want to create their own custom reports.”

Salomon says getting the data into a useable format is a catalyst for greater citizen involvement. “People are being less passive and want to do more for their communities based on the information we provide,” he says.

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Future developments

The Observatory is now considering migrating to InstantAtlas Server because it wants to expand the range of areas and depth of information it provides. There are also plans for partnership working with other organisations.

“We are very happy with where we have got to but we would like to go to the next step and position the Observatory as in instrument for social transformation – we have always said that the insight we provide is not only for experts. We want everyone to have better access to local information,” says Salomon.

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Key benefits

  • Online dynamic data presentation is helping more people in local government understand the importance of local data
  • The Observatory has been able to save a significant amount of time by making the data available in an online format, rather than having to create bespoke reports
  • Individuals in other organisations beside local government are now getting access to useful local intelligence

Other InstantAtlas public safety stories and reports that will interest you

Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) - How data presentation is helping health ministers in Central America target intervention programmes

Procalculo Prosis - Colombia- Using data visualisation to help the Bogota Chambers of Commerce improve the business environment in the country’s capital city

Public Health Organization - using data presentation software to aid the policy-making process

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News and Articles


Arizona Department of Health Services | ‘Making data presentation meaningful when dealing with low rates of population density’


The Institute for Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of Texas | ‘Making data available to the community through easy-to-use data presentation tools’


Public Health Organization – ”Using data presentation to aid the policy-making process”