From data to insights

How open data can empower society

John Alexis Guerra Gómez

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  • Big Data
  • Open Data
  • Machine Learning
  • etc...

That's not what matters!

What matters?


  • Deep understanding
  • Meaningful
  • Non obvious
  • Actionable

How do we find them?

With Visual Analytics (one option)

What is Visual Analytics

Other methods of data analysis

Data Mining/Machine Learning

Information Visualization

Visual Analytics

Cool, now let's see some insights

Colombian Peace Referendum

Oficial Results

Nice effort, but not open data

La Silla Vacía

They opened the data

La Silla's referendum results data

Knowledge generation

Results by Geography

Hypothesis generation

My students

By Meili Vanegas

US Federal Budget

Available on the White House's page

Used it for my PhD Thesis

National open data initiative

US Senate Voting patterns

See it on video


Doesn't have open data....

but has an open API

Normal tweets

Weird tweets?

Creation dates

Number of followers

Visualization Influentials

How to buy an used car in Colombia

Normal procedure

Ask friends and family

Renault 4
Renault 4 JP4
Teilgefalteter Renault 4 am Strassenrand


That's inferring statistics from a sample n=1

Better approach

Data based decisions

Take home message

  • Open Data can empower people to generate insights
  • Open Data but on open formats xls, csv, json
  • Information Visualization is more than pretty graphics
  • What matters are the insights

Thank You


John Alexis Guerra Gómez


Who am I?


Silicon Valley

Types of Visualization

  • Infographics
  • Scientific Visualization (sciviz)
  • Information Visualization (infovis, datavis)


Scientific Visualization

  • Inherently spatial
  • 2D and 3D

Information Visualization

Infovis Basics

Visualization Mantra

  • Overview first
  • Zoom and Filter
  • Details on Demand

Perception Preference

Adapted from from:Tamara Munzner Book Chapter

Data Types

1-D Linear Document Lens, SeeSoft, Info Mural
2-D Map GIS, ArcView, PageMaker, Medical imagery
3-D World CAD, Medical, Molecules, Architecture
Multi-Var Spotfire, Tableau, GGobi, TableLens, ParCoords,
Temporal LifeLines, TimeSearcher, Palantir, DataMontage, LifeFlow
Tree Cone/Cam/Hyperbolic, SpaceTree, Treemap, Treeversity
Network Gephi, NodeXL, Sigmajs