Sunday, 6 May 2012

Google motion charts with DECC CO2 data

In my previous job I used to regularly use CO2 data at the local and national scale. 6 years ago it was a case of pulling the data together from as many local energy sources as you could find for the area you were trying to calculate - for a Local Authorities energy use that could mean A LOT of energy data and number crunching.

DECC's introduction of National Indicators for energy use and carbon emissions has made the process a lot easier. I still have issues with the way in which they publish (there were errors with the inclusion of data in the wrong LA area) and project the data (Excel tables are dull for data analysis) so last year I began using Google's motion charts to project the data. They are based on Hans Rosling's Gapminder. There is a pretty good tutorial on them here.

This link takes you to motion charts I have created for Local Authorities in Cumbria, North East England and Greater London. As the data is based on Local Authority boundaries it provides a detailed outline of CO2 emissions from domestic, business and industry, and road transport. There is a link to the metadata on the emissions sheet.

Snapshot of motion chart

I used the charts earlier in the year with a year 10 class as part of the GCSE Edexcel A syllabus on energy and climate change. I wanted to show the difference in emissions from different parts of the country and the change over time due to the recession, energy saving policies etc. 

It takes a bit of explaining to outline the representation of multi variate data on the charts but it seemed to go down well. Next year I'd like to link the charts with a CO2 diary the pupils will be keeping over a few weeks and get them to integrate the data to see their efforts at energy reduction over time. You could also develop a research project based on pupils picking two or three different Local Authorities with different emissions projections and getting them to research the types of jobs and businesses, size and location of the LA's to explain the changes in emissions.

Let me know how you get on.

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