visualize | communicate | ENGAGE
Borken is a Kreis (county) in the northwestern part of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany in the Münster region. The county is home to around 364,000 people and since 2014 it has provided citizens with a number of atlases which serve as a source of information as well as an important tool for municipalities, institutions or companies that rely on statistical data on the county and the county's towns and cities. We spoke to Markus Wydera about the atlas and how interactive mapping software is used to present data and information.
How did you first hear about InstantAtlas?
A colleague who is involved in monitoring education for the county found out about InstantAtlas at a meeting and told me about it.
Could you tell us about the project you were working on?
I am responsible for statistics within the county and present various types of statistical data about the county and its municipalities. Recently I was looking for new ways to present this statistical data. In contrast to printed publications, online maps help me make the most current data. By using InstantAtlas we can make comprehensive data about Kreis Borken available in a transparent, clearly accessible way.
How did you think web mapping software would make a difference?
Having an academic background in Geodesy I understood how thematic maps can be used to help people see the relationships between statistical indicators. Once I became responsible for statistics in the department I decided to present all our data this way to make it more accessible for users. Thanks to the maps they can better understand the geographical relationships between indicators. The interactivity of the InstantAtlas reports allows users to easily compile data they need and create bespoke maps of their own.
Who are the main users of your maps and atlases?
Our statistics report with structural data county and municipalities as well as the election atlas are aimed at people who work with, or are interested in, statistical data. That means politicians and other decision-makers who want to get information on election results in the wards, or on particular structural data and want to know more about the county.
What sort of feedback have you had from them?
The feedback has all been positive without exception. The users like the depth of the data as well as the well-structured design using tables, maps, and charts. However, we have found that some users need to familiarise themselves with the tools available to make best use of them.
Which design aspects did you need to focus when creating versions of your atlases specifically for smartphones and tablets?
To make the contents of the statistics atlas accessible for PCs as well as smartphones and tablets (e.g. for decision-makers who want to look up particular structural data on their way to a meeting) we replicated the Flash version for PCs with a very similarly designed HTML5 version. Then we looked into ways how users of smaller tablets and even high-resolution smartphones could access the data of the statistics atlas as well.
A user-friendly display of our standard HTML5 report with all its components is almost impossible on smaller tablets because their screen size and resolution is just too low. For that reason we had to radically simplify the design of the report to make sure that only a very few but large components are visible at a time. Because we still wanted to offer the whole content of the PC version of the atlas we had the idea to stack the components on top of each other showing only the desired ones. This was achieved by using buttons that toggle these components.
What are your plans for developing the maps/atlases in the future?
We will continue to maintain our existing reports (statistics atlas, population pyramid, election report). That means the data is continuously updated and the reports will be adapted as the software is further developed. In addition, we also create new reports when needed. For example, we are developing a comprehensive report with data on education monitoring at the moment.
What have been the benefits of using InstantAtlas?
HTML5 - Population Atlas (2014)
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HTML5 - Age Structure of Population Atlas (1975-2013)
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