The 2015 Innovation By Design Awards Winners: Data Visualization

From improving classrooms to improving city politics, here’s 2015’s best work in data visualization.

We have more access to large swaths of information than ever, but it’s all but useless if it isn’t packaged and presented in way we can all understand. This has pushed data visualization into the spotlight, and whether it’s helping kids learn, helping city officials make better decisions, or helping to make sense of Miles Davis’ massive catalog, this year’s finalists and winner offer a good look at the future of this space. Congratulations to the finalists, and a special thank you to our judges: Andrei Scheinkman, deputy editor of FiveThirtyEight; designer Moritz Stefaner; and Lisa Strausfeld,principal at InformationArt. And a sincere thank you to everyone who entered and supported Fast Company‘s commitment to elevating the design profession.


If you’re looking for more inspiring work, don’t forget to check out the finalists in our other categories: Winners, 3D-Printing, City Solutions, Data Viz, Experience, Experimental, Fashion, Graphic Design, Health, Mobile Apps, Product Design, Smart Home, Social Good, Students, Web Design.


SciPlay Noticing Tools

Creators: Jake Barton
Firm: Local Projects
Client: NYSCI

SciPlay’s suite of educational apps are designed to enhance playtime with visual aids that reveal the hidden patterns of scientific concepts. But for teachers, who often rely on qualitative cues to assess the effectiveness of their lesson plans, the SciPlay apps offers a quantitative look at how students are absorbing information.




Creators: Eddie Opara et al
Firm: Pentagram
Client: Blopboard

Plenty of services use social networks to crowdsource answers, but Blopboard takes things one step further, by taking in those replies and spitting out a series of visualizations. Using a mix of polls and multiple-choice questions, Blopboard is able to quickly make sense of what the general consensus on any given topic may be.


Creator: Domo


Making collaborative decisions while working remotely is sometimes impossible, due to the simple difficulty of keeping in touch. But Domo’s suite of apps not only provides the relevant information that everyone needs to make decisions, but also offers a cloud-based platform for better communications amongst employees.

Emotient Analytics

Creators: Emotient Inc.

Picking up on the most subtle nuances of a customers’ experience is key to many businesses. But how do you do it scientifically? Using video of customers in the wild, Emotient allows businesses to analyze real-time emotional responses. First, software maps the “micro expressions” that play across people’s faces. Then, Emotient’s summarizes that information in simple charts, so that businesses can readily see how their customers really feel in real-time.


The House of Clicks

Creators: Tham & Videgård
Client: Hemnet

Hemnet is one of Sweden’s biggest platforms for the buying and selling of homes. By analyzing more than 200,000,000 clicks to the site between January and October of last year, architects Tham & Videgård took the statistical averages of the homes people were looking at and turned that into a model home–one which it fully intends to build in the real world.


Creators: Thomas Clever, Gert Franke
Client: Chicago Met Agency for Planning


City planning is a daunting process which requires massive collaboration. In order to better inform city politicians, media outlets, and business owners, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning created interactive maps for Mobility, Economy, and Livability, which lets users start with broad insights and quickly drill down to data that’s of specific interest to them.

Nike+ Your Year

Firm: AKQA
Client: Nike

Much of the Nike+ appeal revolves around adding personalized, socially-connected spin to fitness data. With Your Year, Nike, along with ad agency AKQA, pumped out 100,000 animated short films, customized with algorithms. Users could then upload their data, and receive a nearly customized film of their year’s activity.


No Ceilings

Creators: Fathom Information Design
Clients: The Clinton Foundation, The Gates Foundation

It’s difficult to prove that gender inequality exists, which is why Fathom Information Design rolled out No Ceilings, a portal which takes more than 850,000 data points from across the globe and synthesizes those bits into insightful, digestible data visualizations that compare the plight of women across the world.


Creators: Giorgio Caviglia
Firm: DensityDesign


RAW is an elegant, free-to-use suite of infographic tools which aim to make the lives of designers and data viz experts significantly easier.

Re-imagining the instrument cluster in cars

Creators: Steve Bittan, Matthew Edwards, David Mingay,Tim Smith, Adam Taylor, Harsha Varshan,
Firm: UsTwo

Distractions in the car cause accidents. But few have tried to radically redesign the instrumentation insight cars accordingly. By mixing bold colors, simple shapes, and clear typography with contextually-delivered information, UsTwo imagines a future where we’re checking our dashboard as little as possible.


Scaled in Miles

Creators: Fathom Information Design

Few jazz musicians were as influential as Miles Davis. Even fewer were more prolific. To convey the impact that Davis’ music had on the jazz world, this visualization takes a constellation-like approach to highlight his rate of output, shifts in style, and the vast network of collaborators which surrounded him.

U.S. Open Sessions

Firm: Ogilvy


Ever wonder what Roger Federer’s serve sounds like? IBM tapped Ogilvy and LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy to create music that could be tied to the gigs of match data produced by the annual U.S. Open tennis tournament. The end result was 187 music-based interpretations of the match, which pulled in factors like shifts in match momentum, or key moments, such as errors or aces.

The Viz That Broke The NYPD

Service: Tableau
Creator: New York Daily News

In recent years, “Broken Windows” policing–where people are cited for seemingly-minor infractions–has become a flashpoint in NYC, with blacks and hispanics being targeted at disproportionately higher rates. To shed light on this practice–and tease out the overall inefficacy of it–the New York Daily News used Tableau to create this series of visualizations which collect data from 169 different interviews conducted with those who had been summoned to court. As a result of the project, city officials have started reconsidering the approach.


About the author

Adrian Covert has written some things on the Internet, and now he writes and edits things on Co.Design. Loves naps