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Where is everybody going…and why?

The Migration Paths iPad App is a visualization of human migration where static data comes alive as kaleidoscopic parades of global activity.

Using a breathtaking and breakthrough technique for visualizing traffic patterns, this app displays annual migration data from the United Nations in perpetual flows and layers them over maps and statistical graphs of CIA and World Bank data. With this combination you gain insights, generate questions and form new hypotheses about where and why people migrate around the globe.

You’ll answer questions like: Are people migrating to and from certain places because of economic opportunity, technological advantage, lower birth rates, amount of land, or larger urban populations?

You’ll also rapidly interpret large amounts of data from sources that can’t be combined in traditional visualizations, so conclusions that normally come in the form of several dashboards and written summaries happen in a single instant in a single visual. For instance, you can view whether people migrate to a country come from a specific region or from all over the world, while still seeing the volumes of traffic from each individual country of origin.

Download it now and find stories in the data!

Plus, Migration Paths is a great way to jumpstart conversation on world affairs, so try putting it on a big screen with Apple TV for a group of people. Also, reach out to us about putting your data in this app or into an app like it. We currently use the paths technology for visualizing other networks like website traffic and data form sensors.

How It works: The Data and Paths Concept

Migration Paths is a frequency-based visualization system which is our a new way of looking at data about transitions. It can be used to visualize any data about transitions and flows (e.g. as we do with web traffic). In this case it’s based on data from the United Nations (U.N.). Specifically, it’s a data set they publish every year on worldwide migration, people moving from one country to another.

A path in this app is an invisible line representing a connection between two countries. It extends from one country’s capital city to another country’s capital city. Objects move along these paths to represent people migrating from their country of origin to their country of destination. The density of objects moving along a path reflects the number of people who migrated during a given year.

In other words, if a lot of people migrate from one country to another over the course of a year, like from Mexico to the United States, the path between the two countries will have a lot of objects moving along it. Whereas paths between the United States and the countries of Central America and the Caribbean have far less objects moving along them because far fewer people migrate from those countries to the United States by comparison to Mexico.

In addition to a geographic map, this app also allows you to look at the same paths between countries plotted according to global statistics on a variety of topics ranging from birth rate to electrical consumption. While in this mode, objects continue to move between countries, so it’s possible to see migration while also comparing various statistics about countries relative to one another.

In the case below, countries are still arranged from left to right on the screen according to their longitudinal position on the globe, so you can generally stay oriented according to geography.

It’s also possible to sort the countries purely based on their statistical value from right to left, see below.

Data Sources

The United Nations migration data included in the app allows you to look at the top ten destinations in the world for 2013, 2010, 2000 and 1990. The statistical data about countries comes from the CIA World Factbook and the World Bank api.

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