Today – Statsday

October 20th is the day of Official Statistics. It’s the day to highlight the importance of reliable, independent and high-quality numbers. Numbers that help to make good, evidence-based decisions.

This year “Better data, better lives” is the theme of the World Statistics Day selected by the United Nations General Assembly.

Many countries also celebrate this day and are planning special events. The new  UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the focus of most of these events.

For a fact-based Worldview


Hans Rosling, co-founder and promoter of the Gapminder Foundation and of fights with statistics against myths (‘Our goal is to replace devastating myths with a fact-based worldview.’) and tries to counterbalance media focussing on war, conflicts and chaos.

Here one more example (and this in a media interview…): ‘You can’t use media if you want to understand the world’ (sic!)

And this statement on; ‘Statistical facts don’t come to people naturally. Quite the opposite. Most people understand the world by generalizing personal experiences which are very biased. In the media the “news-worthy” events exaggerate the unusual and put the focus on swift changes. Slow and steady changes in major trends don’t get much attention. Unintentionally, people end-up carrying around a sack of outdated facts that you got in school (including knowledge that often was outdated when acquired in school).’



Elections, visual


On October 18, 2015 Swiss voters will elect a new Parliament for the next four years. There are some very useful and also beautiful visual tools that help voters to get informed about developments in the political landscape and about candidates.


Background: The Swiss Political System

2015-10-02_parliamentThe full picture of Switzerland’s political institutions and executive authorities can be found in a yearly updated official brochure (the page above is part of it)

2015-10-02_parliamentcoverSee also the Official Website (Federal elections of 18 October 2015) and:

The website of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), FSO topic: elections (German and French only)




Let’s have a look at some of these visual and interactive tools.


Find Your Candidates

With interactive tools, one answers questions to define one’s position on the political spectrum and to generate suggestions for candidates to vote for.

Tools from smartvote or vimentis exist for the National Council (200 members and 3,802 candidates) and the Council of States (46 members and 161 candidates).

For smartvote about 80 to 90 percent of the candidates have filled in a questionnaire.

2015-10-02_smartvoteThis questionnaire helps defining their political profile, a smartspider.

‘The smartspider presents a political profile based on the agreement about eight topics/aims. A value of 100 represents a strong agreement, a value of 0 a strong disagreement.’

2015-10-02_candidateIn answering the same questionnaire a voter defines his one profile that is matched with the candidates’. In the end, he gets his own smartspider and suggestions for candidates in his constituency. The more questions a voter answers, the more precise his voting advice will be.


Political Shift in Communes 1981 to 2014 – year by year

Lean Swiss communes more towards the left or the right, are they more conservative or progressive?

‘Based on the result of every single popular vote since 1983. The Somoto Research Institute together with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC,’s parent company) has used the data to find this out.’ A quite complex interactive visualisation depicts this for types of communes and every single commune.




Party Preferences in the Communes

11 elections (1971 to 2011) for the Swiss National Council show how 2345 communes changed their political preferences during these 40 years. The  SRF Data Team (@srfdata) created a visualisation out of tons of data (in German only)

2015-10-02_GEMEINDENAfter selecting a political party and a commune the map of Switzerland shows how this commune changed its attitude towards the chosen party. Hovering over the map gives the facts of all other communes for the chosen party.

2015-10-02_GEMEINDEN-POSCHIAVO timeline Great!


Interactive Political Atlas

And not to forget the very rich interactive Political Atlas presented by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Elections to the National Council can be found from 1919 (!) to today. And also votations about innumerable topics are shown starting 1866 (!!). Have a look (with flash enabled).



And not enough yet

How did national counselors vote in parliament? (in German, by SRF Data)


Do you like a Quiz … and learn about Swiss political parties?

How well do you know Swiss politics? (by SRF Data)


Forgotten something? Sure! There is so much activity in the visualisation scene in Switzerland …




More than just Numbers

The historical research uses statistics since ever.  And Official Statistics are a favourite source for quantitative historiography and digital humanities.

‘Statistics are more than just numbers’

Statistics New Zealand depicts the history of the capital Wellington with a popular format – an infographic.

‘In 1865, following a period of heated debate, an independent tribunal of three Australians selected Wellington to be New Zealand’s capital. Since that time a lot has changed in Wellington and Statistics NZ has been able to follow and track that change through the data it collects.’

How true!: ‘Statistics are more than just numbers, they can chart change, record history, and be a tool for decision making.’ (Source: Stats NZ)




Mid-December 2014 Statistics Switzerland launched its first digital publication for tablets (iOs. Android) and (and!) browser, in French and German. The name for this publishing category is ‘DigiPub‘.


In App Store and Google Play

DigiPubs are provided via the SwissStats App available on Apple Store and Google Play (Windows to come later ).



In the browser 2015-07-17_webviewer.

The challenge: Storytelling in times of tablets

Storytelling in the time of tablets and mobile people performs in a new field.
The idea and the message are old – let‘s call it the book paradigm.
But it‘s a book in new clothes. New aspects must be taken into account: new possibilities, skills, tools and processes.



After evaluation, the choice for a performant and sustainable publishing instrument fell on: .folio, an open format, part of Adobe‘s Digital Publishing Suite DPS.

.folio provides:

  • Standardised navigation
  • Wide range of presentation possibilities
  • Integration of internet content
  • Runs on most platforms, also browsers
  • Publication in the major stores
  • Production based on layout programs, editing systems or web content management systems
  • Open format (ZIP archive with PDF, HTML, XML inside).


 Rethink publication !

Electronic publication offers everything needed to make a story appealing. But this means: Rethink publication!

Authors and also publication specialists (publishers, visualisers, layout designers) are challenged

  • in terms of concept with regard to the content that is to be communicated
  • in terms of the presentation due to the possibilities that the medium is opening up
  • in terms of collaboration with specialists.

New ways of working, processes and also changing job descriptions are the result and necessary.


The Concept

The whole story about choosing and developing DigiPubs is in the following presentation:

2015-02-19_dotfolioDownload presentation (format: Powerpoint): Dotfolio.pptx

Download presentation (format: PDF): dotfolio.pdf



Visual first – Visual.ONS

Visual representations of statistical data are attractive – and worth to build an own website with nothing but (info)graphs and maps … and more behind it!

ONS did it:


‘The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and is the recognised national statistical institute for the UK. Visual.ONS is a website exploring new approaches to making ONS statistics accessible and relevant to a wide public audience. The site supports the UK Statistic Authority’s publicly stated intention of “making data, statistics and analysis more accessible, engaging and easier to understand”.
The site will be a home to a variety of different content, including infographics, interactive visualisations and short analysis, exploring data from a range of ONS outputs. It is neither a replacement nor a rebuild of the current ONS website which continues to be the home of ONS’ regular outputs and statistics.’

So far the statement of ONS.


More than pictures

Behind the graphs you can find lots of interactive tools.
A calculator to find out life expectancy is one example:


Great! And the graphs and interactive tools can be embedded into other websites.

100 Years

Comparing statistical visualizations over a period of 100 years is quite rare. The newly published Atlas of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office offers just this possibility.


100 years ago Statistics Switzerland published a Graphic-Statistical Atlas. It was a wonderful visualization of dozens of topics and developments. All the diagrams and maps were hand-made and of superb quality.



In order to honor this great work, Statistics Switzerland did it again. A facsimile of the old Atlas is now accompanied by quite the same diagrams and maps but filled wth data from our century. With this technique, a visual overview of changes during the last century becomes possible and gives fascinating insights.


The Atlas is available in Geman and French at


1901-1910 original visualization


2001-2010 updated visualization



1901-1910 original visualization


2001-2010 updated visualization