November 7, 2014

State of the Future

The 2013-14 State of the Future is a compelling global thematic report produced by the Millennium Project based in Washington, D.C.  Researchers from around the world collaborate to collect and provide a diversity of opinions, then distill and integrate those data to forecast the future.  It’s a thought-provoking read into the advancements and challenges of the humanity and what the future might hold for our 7.1 billion people living together in this interconnected world.

For such a special report, the graphs are quite rudimentary (download the 2013-14 State of the Future report here).  There’s such a wealth of information in this 243-page report that can yield many different visualizations.  I think this report can benefit tremendously from a team of data visualization experts who can produce beautiful and meaningful graphs befitting this fascinating report.  For my part, I’ve visualized the different indicators that together compose the State of the Future Index (page 5).

The data for this viz has both breadth (25 indicators) and depth (215 countries and from 1972-2013), however, the data is not uniform because it is not available for all the years and for all countries.   So there’s a small hiccup in the viz when changing from some indicators to another.

For example, data for indicator ‘Life expectancy at birth (years)’ ranges from 1972-2012.  But for indicator ‘Internet users (per 100 people)’, data is available only from 1990-2012.  So when the indicator is changed from ‘Life expectancy’ to ‘Internet users’, the world map might disappear.

The solution is to scroll to the next available year and the world map will reappear.

Since this report is for futurists, I’ve used the Forecast function in the ‘World’ graph to predict the next 6-years trend for the indicators using 95% prediction intervals.  In addition, the ‘World’ graph shows how the world population is doing for each indicator.  There're more winnings than losings so we are making progress over the years, albeit at the expense of the environment!

As an optimist, I believe the future is bright and promising ahead.