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Data visualisation and storytelling as research objects

The point where data visualisation, digital storytelling and urban infrastructure meet is the focus of the VIDAN (Visual and Dynamic Arrangements of News) interdisciplinary research project that is addressing the design, development and evaluation of data-based article formats. The aim is to develop new forms of interaction and visualisation for visual explanation and interactive exploration of complex data. VIDAN is a research project of the Urban Complexity Lab of Potsdam University of Applied Sciences and is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in co-operation with civity.

Neither the content structure nor the general layout of news and technical articles published online have changed much since online media came onto the scene even though the possibilities for interaction have in fact changed fundamentally. Contributions by data journalists, such as the article entitled "The Commuter Republic" are an exception that is becoming more and more popular.

In the past, civity too has prepared topics for dynamic, interactive visualisation and with direct data storage. The idea is to avoid keeping the content of the articles rigid, but instead relating them to the current situation and the interest of the reader. One example of this is the website for the ramp-up to electric scooter sharing in Germany.

In order to develop and evaluate innovative methods for the visualisation of news articles and narratives in this context, the two doctoral students Francesca Morini and Jonas Rogge of FH Potsdam are experimenting in the VIDAN research project with new forms of article preparation and presentation. In close co-operation with our industry experts and analysts, concepts of data-based storytelling are being examined within the scope of user-centred design, developed in the form of functional prototypes and evaluated with authors and readers. What we want to do here is to examine how data-based narratives function and their effect within the urban themes addressed by civity.

Cities are becoming increasingly digital, the keyword here being Smart City. Among other things, these technologies generate a large amount of data and information that can be used to investigate the city even further. Within a period of three years, mobility, water and waste will be treated as integral parts of urban infrastructure in the VIDAN project. We are happy to support the researchers and are curious to see if the data-based narratives will trigger discourse on the changing face of cities.