Sandy Hook 31 Days Later: Guns, Data and Infographics

Every evening, I search the Web to try and find you interesting data visualizations and infographics to discuss. I often find myself thankful in my daily work life that I don’t have to deal with topics related to politics, tragedy, and other less pleasant topics. This infographic I am going to discuss today unfortunately deals with the worst of the worst, but I feel it is an important one for us to discuss as we venture out to create infographics for our intended audience. [SOURCE]

In reviewing the infographic below, we first need to ask what is the message the author was trying to convey?

31 Days Later: Deaths Since the Sandy Hook Massacre

Click on Image to Enlarge

This infographic shows on January 15, 2013, 919 people have been killed by firearms since the Sandy Hook Massacre that occurred on December 14, 2013 in Newtown, Connecticut (31 days earlier). Children ages 0 – 13 are shown as various forms of red figures; teens and adults ages 14+ are shown as various forms of dark figures. Fast fact notes relating to some of the deaths are shown interspersed chronologically between the days. I find that the fast facts are what pulls you into the story the infographic is trying to tell.

From a data visualization perspective, I like the infographic and the way it visually portrays the data. I can think of instances at Apollo Group where we talk about student enrollment, retention, and other data pertinent to our business where an infographic like this would work well. However, the question again is what is the author trying to convey? If the point is that 919 deaths in 31 days is a lot, then the point is well made. However, if the point is “well, we only had 919 deaths out of 300 million people in 31 days, so there is no issue here,” then we need to be concerned. Are all gun-related deaths equal? The infographic states that 60% of gun-related deaths are suicides and often go unreported. Why does the author point this out?

Both sides of the gun control debate have strong, passionate feelings on this issue. Saving hundreds of lives a month is a worthwhile goal in absolute and relative terms (we will discuss absolute versus relative data in a future topic). This infographic is one that could be used by both sides for a national debate.

So, is an infographic like this helpful to the national discussion or is it deceptive in its simplicity? I leave that to you to decide.

BTW, if you have found an interesting data visualization or Infographic you would like to share, please send it to me along with your thoughts on it. I would be happy to blog about what you find interesting in the world of data visualization.

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