Wildlife Strikes

Overview

Wildlife Strikes was a project that examined Federal Aviation Administration data from data.gov – http://catalog.data.gov/dataset/aircraft-wildlife-strike-data-raw-data-382d6. It takes data from a 13 year period (1999 to 2012) and allows the user to explore where, when, and what type of animal an aircraft has struck in that time period. The project was part of a course at the University of Michigan School of Information – SI649: Information Visualization. In our scenarios we imagined potential environmentalists or aircraft enthusiast using the data to better understand where bird strikes occur. Our team wanted to map the data into an experience users could play with and really explore the information in a user-friendly manner.

Live Demo

The Problem

The data from the Federal Aviation Administration was not in an easily digestible format where users could consume without a lot of manipulation. The team manipulated the data using Python to transform it from the format provided by the FAA into something that we could map onto a web experience. The team had to map the data from airport codes to a geolocation using the Google Maps API and then overlay that data into a format familiar


My Role

  • Designer
  • Front-End Developer

The Design

Deliverable

Initial Load

Initial Load

The initial load in the Wildlife Strikes experience takes users to January 15, 2009 – when Flight 1549 stroke a flock of Canadian Geese on its initial climb.

The team wanted to set users into a context where they could begin exploring the data with a very well known incident between wildlife and aircraft.

Individual Data Points

Individual Data Points

When deciding how users would explore the data the team settled on individual incidents associated with airports. The purpose of this design was to be able easily show scale while still making it easy for the users to interact with data points.


Time Selection

Time Selection

Allowing users to select specific time ranges was an important part of the design. By making a selectable and draggable time range users can not only explore individual data points but larger trends based on their pre-determined time range.


Interaction Design

Prioritizing

Prioritizing

Prioritizing the features and planned users was an important part of our initial design.

There was a very short amount of time to design, develop, and present a final solution as part of our Information Visualization class.

Learning and Designing at the same time

Learning and Designing at the same time

One of the largest challenges during the project was learning to program in JavaScript and more advanced JavaScript libraries like D3.js and designing at the same time.

In order to accomplish what we wanted to for the project we had to prioritize the tech stack and explore what was possible to achieve our design elements

Testing Data Concentration

Testing Data Concentration

One of the first passes of the design was to explore the feasibility of having highly dense data points. An initial static mapping showed that while data points were dense, users could still navigate the data by changing their zoom level.

Challenges

The challenges for the design of Wildlife Strikes centered around the amount of data and the complexity of it. The FAA keeps very detailed and documented data on wildlife strikes including things such as engines were hit and the mass of the airplanes. Our team had to decide what data to include in the visualization. Do we include everything? Do we limit the data available? What would be useful for users? As we started to brainstorm the different types of users we could accommodate we decided that we wanted to allow people such as environmentalists and aircraft enthusiast to examine the data over time to better understand how wildlife and aircraft strikes have changed over time.