A prototype data grid & graph over data about waste

The interactive data grid with a linked graph is a tool that is often used to aggregate, dissect, explore, compare & visualise datasets. Might such a tool help our users explore and understand open data about waste? To help answer this, I have hacked together a web-based prototype…​

The working prototype

The working prototype can be accessed via this link.

The data

The prototype pulls together 4 datasets:

  1. “Generation and Management of Household Waste” (SEPA).
  2. “Carbon footprint [CO2e]” (SEPA)..
  3. “Population Estimates (Current Geographic Boundaries)” (NRS).
  4. “Mid-Year Household Estimates” (NRS).

The datasets are fetched from statistics.gov.scot and Wikidata, using SPARQL; then matched; and finally, the per-citizen and per-household values are calculated.

The result is 17,490 data records.

The build

The data was assembled using this executable Jupyter notebook. For a production-class implementation, that could easily be coded as automated, periodic process.

The web app containing the interactive data grid with a linked graph, was built using the DevExtreme web component library. Alternative libraries are viable, but the DevExtreme one is modern and free for non-commercial use.

The resulting data assembly and web app are stored as static files in the project’s GitHub repositories.

Its features

The prototype’s web page contains a graph and a configurable data grid. The graph automatically reflects the data selected in the data grid.

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Detailed information about a graph’s data point is shown when the user hovers over it with the cursor.

screenshot graph hover

The graph can be zoomed/unzoomed, and its current contents can be printed or saved as PNG, PDF, etc.

screenshot graph saving

The data grid’s expand/collapse arrow-head icons allow the user to drilldown into slices of data. Below, we’ve expanded the Stirling → Recycled slice to reveal the data values per-material.

screenshot drilldown

The data grid’s “Show Filed Chooser” icon pops up a control panel to allow the user to select data dimensions, axis assignments, value ranges, value filters, display order, etc., etc.

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screenshot field chooser panel

The data grid’s “Export to Excel file” icon will export the grid’s currently selected data to an Excel spreadsheet.

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The resulting Excel files are nice because the export functionality preserves user-friendly fixed headers and some other formatting.

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Finally, the prototype operates well on phones and tablets (although there is a sizing issue with pop-up panels that I haven’t investigated).

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But, is it useful?

So, might (a production-class version of) such a tool, help our users to explore and understand open data about waste? Well, we won’t know until we have user tested it, but my guess is that:

  1. users with no data analysis experience will find its configurability difficult to navigate.
  2. users with low-to-medium data analysis experience may find it a useful as a single tool containing multiple datasets.
  3. users with medium-to-high data analysis experience will prefer to use their own tools.

presets feature has been added to the tool so that users can go to a particular configuration & data selection by simply clicking on a hyperlink. This supports an easy-access route to the tool for users with no data analysis experience, by answering their potential questions through presets such as:

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