PFI:BIC: Collaborative Research: A Smart Service-System for Improving Data Contextualization and Communication Through Visualization Within Communitiest System for Transparent Data Analysis

This Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI:BIC) project, “A Smart Service-System for Improving Data Contextualization and Communication Through Visualization Within Communities” led by PI Hullman from University of Washington aims to transform visualization tools to support the integration of contextual information, including information describing the source, identity, and objectives of visualized data, to make public data more engaging and actionable to communities. The project team will partner with Tableau Software to design, implement, and evaluate a smart service-system to facilitate the production and use of visualized data resources by community stakeholders with varying levels of data literacy. The technological scaffolding developed will support contextualization of public data by organizations, citizens, and journalists through three innovations: data provenance mechanisms that prompt authors to add contextual information like data sources and allow audience members to annotate or request information about visualized data; consistency mechanisms that help ensure consistent data presentation across a larger, evolving set of representations; and evaluation mechanisms that help authors acknowledge and gather audience feedback on how well a visualization achieves its rhetorical goals. These novel mechanisms will build users’ confidence in data work, contributing to increased data literacy among authors and consumers.

Development will employ participatory design methods in two cases where Tableau Public has already been deployed and tested: Engage Seattle, an open data campaign by the Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods to simplify decision-making and eliminate barriers that discourage people from participating in municipal government, and Myanmar in Transition, a collaboration aimed at improving the state of data use among government agencies, civil society organizations and other institutions operating in Myanmar, which the project team has already completed a needs assessment and educational framework for through prior work with Tableau.

Grant Info


Jessica Hullman


Sara Curran

Grant Dates

Sep 1, 2016 – Jun 1, 2017