How the Doctoral Institute for Evidence Based Policy in Japan is meeting customer needs through customised data visualization
As InstantAtlas reseller in Japan, the Doctoral Institute for Evidence Based Policy works with many universities to help them visualize data. The team includes a number of GIS experts who help clients by taking large amounts of data and presenting them in maps and reports. One of the Institute’s clients is Nihon Fukushi University. Having attended a conference in the United Kingdom, where he saw InstantAtlas in action, an academic from the university suggested the Institute to look into using it.
Naomi Kawakami, chief consultant at the Institute, says work for universities involves taking raw data and presenting it in a map format. The team uses GIS programmes to aggregate and manipulate information spatially and then present it in maps which are usually prepared as PDF and image files. However, the team recognized the need to deliver mapped information in another format, such as web-based interactive maps, which would allow clients to explore their information. “When we found out about InstantAtlas we realized that it would enable us to produce resource-light interactive data visualizations for clients with limited budgets,” she says.
Naomi and the team are used to working with GIS software and found creating the data files very straightforward. They also discovered that it was easy enough for non-GIS specialists to work with. The biggest advantage for the Institute was being able to type straight into their native language and to customize the look of each InstantAtlas report. “This made a big difference for us,” says Naomi. “It meant we could create reports with a Japanese interface very easily.”
Meeting the need
The Institute is now creating InstantAtlas reports for its clients which it says is helping them gain a better insight into what the data is telling them. “They can visualize the data and it is easier for them to understand what the data means than if it was just a table or graph. It is also easier to make comparison with different geographic areas,” says Naomi. “Our client at the university is very impressed with the quality of maps, charts and tables in the InstantAtlas reports as well as the interactive visualization element.”
Naomi thinks greater use of data visualization could promote data sharing initiatives in Japan. “The Japanese government collects a lot of data but this is not shared widely. By using effective tools to share data we are hoping that it will encourage greater data sharing.”
As well as improving the publication of statistical data collected or prepared by the different administrative agencies in Japan, the Institute is also looking to partner with private sector companies in health management support systems. The Institute wants to make InstantAtlas its data visualization tool of choice.
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