Researchers’ Blog Immigration Pipeline

I spent a few minutes this morning before our team meeting drafting up an idea I had building off of Ollie's post about developing a subway map-style visualization. I like the clean design opportunities it creates but have also been thinking a lot recently about this is like a pipeline too -- even our vernacular around immigration refers to the "flow" of people.

One source of inspiration was a visualization Erik created for the Holocaust Geographies project that represents the flow of Jews to markets in Budapest in relation to the imposed curfews (I don't know if this is up on the web anywhere -- Erik, please append a link if there is one). The other was an NPR visualization I saw "explaining" the population growth rate in response to recently hitting the 7 billion mark.

(Imagine the attached sketch rotated clockwise so that the top row is origins and the bottom row is destinations -- with vessels potentially in between.) Starting circle size of origins represent the total number of immigrants that will come from each place throughout the time period we designate (most likely the 1912-1923 block). At this starting point, all of the destinations are small empty circles. When the animation begins (playing through by month), the dots (representative of people) begin to leave each of their respective origins and flow to their destination. Lots of dots = lots of people, a burst of immigration -- fewer dots indicate less concentrated times. As people flow out of their origin, the origin circle size shrinks corresponding to the loss. On the other side, the destination circle grows in size as it receives more people. Since there are some situations where one destination has people from several origins, these circles will be pie charts -- where each color of slice corresponds to the origin color. In the last frame of the visualization, all of the origin circles will have been emptied and the same size (perhaps a ghost of its original size behind each) and the destination circles will be their largest, representing total immigration to each.

This, of course, would require a strategic selection of the data. As Ollie indicates in his post, we could do this at a number of scales -- one could be just province-level at the origin and destination side, another could be a closer selection of a particular district / cluster of villages in China or select province / region in Canada. He is going to continue working on analyzing the data with Tableau to identify what might be some good fits and selections for this type of representation.

In the meantime, it would be great to get your advice, Erik, on the feasibility of implementing a visualization like this. I recall that the set up is a bit different for Budapest since you didn't have exact numbers to work with. How easily can that be adapted to this situation where we do have head counts for each origin --> destination? We could definitely simplify the visualization to exclude the flowing dots, but I think this could be pretty cool. (And if this is reasonable for our December deadline, please let us know ASAP how we can help prepare the data and graphics.)

Immigration Pipeline