Team Members: Erick Fritz, Krithi Chandrakasan, Aina Martinez Zurita, Sam Resnick

Link to Video:


The USDA has been collecting data on the US honey bee population for the past several decades.  It has been tracking the population of bees per state, the productivity per hive, and the price of honey.  This data is available on the website in .txt form with a different page for each year.  We cleaned it by grouping all the years together in one .csv file with columns according to: State, Colonies, YieldPColony, Production, StocksPricePound, ValueProduction, Year.

Upon first looking at the data there seemed to be random fluctuations in state’s honey bee population, except for one state, which consistently grew until it far surpassed all the others in honey productivity.  This state is North Dakota.  As soon as we saw this we became interested.  Why did this state that is so rarely on our radar have such a significant growth in honey bee population relative to all the others?  We started to do some additional research and began to see articles by beekeepers and conservationists saying that “North Dakota was the last best place to keep bees in America.” We found out that this is because the honey bee’s habitat has largely been destroyed across the rest of the country as prairies have been converted to farmland to product high yield cash crops. This loss of habitat due to farming and pesticide use has been given the name colony collapse disorder.  Even North Dakota is not safe from this epidemic, however, and its own prairies are starting to shrink, seriously endangering the last of the American honey bee population.  These prairies were once protected by the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which protected natural grassland across the midwest, but as farmers learned that they could make more money by planting crops, the CRP has been slowly pushed back.  There are several organizations working to sponsor the planting of wildflowers instead of cash crops in farm fields as well as encourage advocacy at the national level.  Pheasants Forever is one of these organizations that operates in North Dakota, and is encouraging conservationists to sign a petition to expand the CRP this coming year.  This organization is intending to spread across six other states in the midwest in the next year to help preserve the honey bees habitat.  This issue is not only a matter of habitat preservation.  Since the honeybee is responsible for pollinating most of America’s crops, the security of our food source is at stake.  This is an issue that affects every single person living in America today, and that is why we need to tell the bee’s story.

This story is about a large scale issue that affects the entire US population, across all states, but it has its roots at a small scale level.  Because of this, we determined that our story lent itself well to a zooming in, zooming out approach – similar to The Powers of Ten by Ray and Charles Eames.  Additionally, the story has a central geographic theme since it is about the role of a single state in the welfare of the entire country.  We therefore decided to tell our story by starting with a wide lens looking at the US bee population changes over the past few decades, then zooming in on North Dakota as an anomaly.  We zoomed into a specific town, with a specific apiary, owned by a specific beekeeper, and took a look at a single hive of bees as we explained his story.  We then started to zoom out as we told the reasons for the delicacy of the bee’s situation and how grave the problem could become.  As we approached our initial viewing point, we left the viewer with a positive message knowing that they could help by signing this petition.  The viewer finds him/herself in the same position as they started in but now with a deeper knowledge of a complex problem that affects them directly and with a resource at their fingertips through which to help the cause.  


There were a few short term goals we had for this data story. First and foremost, we wanted to educate our audience on bee colony collapse and provide them with a new perspective on the issue. In addition we wanted them to understand that bees are one of the largest factors that impact our food security. As an immediate action step we hope that this video will motivate them to buy honey. In the medium term we hope that viewers will sign the petition. Finally, in the long term we hope that viewers will become strong supporters of legislation that preserves habitat.

For this data story we target young Americans both in and out of the midwest who are interested in conservation and are active on social media. While narratives like this one are often targeted at the more liberal community our story aims to cut across party lines. The organization Pheasants Forever which we promote within the story has bipartisan support, as many conservative hunters support the organization because it helps conservation and allows them to hunt pheasants.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of our data story we showed the video to farmers market patrons, beekeepers, and a North Dakota resident. We framed the start of the video with questions asking what the viewer thought was the most important factor that affects food production and which state the most honey bees live in. As a follow up to the video we asked if their answer to the first question had changed, if they had learned anything new about honey bees, and if they would be more willing to sign the petition supporting CRP(detailed Q&A given below). We then gave viewers a small strip of paper with the link to the CRP petition which served as the call to action.
Based on the results of our user testing it was clear that our short term goals were met. Most of the participants had predicted crop disease was the most important factor for food production, however after watching the video all but one participant changed their answer to bee colony collapse. Additionally, after watching the video it was clear that they had gained new perspective on the plight and importance of the honey bees and learned where geographically the problem was taking place. We also met our medium term goals, as all participants seemed very excited to receive the slip with information and said they would sign the petition when they had a chance. Finally, based on our user testing it is too early to know if we met our long term goal, however the positive responses we received are a good sign that viewers will care more about legislation preserving habitat in the future.
Overall, we believe that our data story addresses the very important topic of bee colony collapse with a powerful narrative, and both educates and motivates viewers to take action to help solve the problem.

Before questions:

  1. Which of these factors do you think affects food production the most?
  • Drought
  • Bee colony collapse
  • Global population increase
  • Crop diseases
  • GMO
  1. Where do you think most honeybees in the US live? (Select state)

After questions:

  1. After watching this video, does your answer to question n.1 change?
  • Drought
  • Bee colony collapse
  • Global population increase
  • Crop diseases
  • GMO
  1. Did you learn something new about honeybees in America?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. After watching this video, if someone asked you to sign the petition would you be more willing to do so?
  • Yes
  • No

 Person 1: Middle aged man, a tender at one of the stalls.

  1. Crop Diseases.
  2. Arizona
  3. Same answers, still crop diseases.
  4. Yes
  5. Yes

Person 2: Young girl

  1. Bee colony collapse
  2. California
  3. Same answer, bee colony collapse.
  4. Yes, specially commenting that she didn’t know about North Dakota.
  5. Yes, I would already have, but certainly would sign it after seeing the video.

Person 3: Young girl

  1. Bee colony collapse
  2. Texas
  3. Same answer as 1.
  4. Yes, commenting as well about the fact that they didn’t know about ND.
  5. Yes.

Person 4: Young girl(Friends with Person 3)

  1. Crop disease
  2. (Where is somewhere warm…)Florida
  3. Yes, bees.
  4. Yes, commenting they didn’t know about ND.
  5. Yes

Person 5: Man, middle aged.

  1. Crop disease
  2. California
  3. “Well, after seeing this video, clearly the bees are important”
  4. Yes, commenting they didn’t know about ND.
  5. Yes, however commented that “they doubt it would have any impact”

Make Bees Great Again!

Team Members: Erick Friis, Krithi Chandrakasan, Sam Resnick, Willy Zhu

The USDA bee colony datasets show an alarming decrease in honey production by state between the years 2000 and 2016. The one exception to this trend is North Dakota, which remains the final safe haven for bees.  However, due to destruction of habitat through increased pesticide use and decrease in conservation efforts, this last home for the American honey bee is being destroyed. We want to tell this story to make people aware of North Dakota’s importance in sustaining the US bee population and the serious threats that lack of preservation legislation poses to these bees.

For our creative data map project we used the power of ten visualization technique to show both the drop in honey bee production and the loss in grassland that is contributing to the demise of the bees. The map initially shows how honey production varies by state over time at the largest scale(showing the whole US). The visualization then descends downward focusing in on North Dakota followed by a specific region in the state, a specific apiary in the region, and finally down to a specific hive in the apiary.  The story narrows down on one bee keeper, Zac Browning and allows the audience to hear his own personal story to gain a grounded, personal point of view on this otherwise large and expansive story. The visualization then quickly reverses direction and the field of view expands outward showing the rapid decrease in grassland in North Dakota and comes to rest after it has panned back to the original starting point. This positive, human interest story narrows down to a personal level while zooming in, then creates a negative, warning story that blows up again to the macroscopic scale.  At the end you are at the same place as in the beginning, but you are left with a new perspective and hopefully the motivation to help preserve grassland and habitat by signing a petition.

Our target audience for this sketch is Americans who want to understand the dynamics of the decline in bee population. This visualization would be particularly effective if it was embedded in a news story on the bee crisis. People who live in North Dakota and other Midwestern states may be more aware of the problem of loss of habitat than people who live in other parts of the country.  Most people have heard the story that we are loosing bees at an alarming rate many times.  This story does not just state this again, rather it gives the reason why and gives people a concrete way to help.  For local North Dakotans the story has a personal “what’s going on in my backyard” nature, and for the rest of Americans, the story educates them  on where this problem is occurring, why it is occurring, and how they can help.

Put simply, our goals for this project are to educate viewers on both the scale of this problem and the forces that are driving it, as well as to motivate them to advocate for solutions. We accomplish the first goal with the use of the power of ten technique. We are able to tell two complementary stories, the first showing the scale of this problem over time and the second showing the direct relation between the problem and the underlying cause. We accomplish the second goal with our call to action, giving viewers instructions and a direct link to support legislation that protects grassland and habitat for American Wildlife like the honey bee.

Guess Your Green

Team Members: Erick Friis, Krithi Chandrakasan, Aina Martinez Zurita, Sam Resnick

The US fuel economy measurement dataset shows many surprising and non intuitive values for different car models. We want to tell this story, because we believe there is a disparity between perceived and actual fuel economy among car owners.

For our participatory data game we designed an interactive visual game on a mall display board that allows users to guess the relative efficiency of their car and compare this prediction with the true efficiency. The game initially prompts users to enter a prediction with the question “How efficient is your car?” and then allows them to input the make and model of their specific car to determine the accuracy of the prediction. Users will have to walk around to the other side of the kiosk to view the results creating an element of suspense. In addition to showing the disparity between the prediction and reality the game will also display similar vehicles that are more fuel efficient. This data will aggregate over many user interactions and will show the greyed out predictions of other users. This will create a graphic that is developed in real time and grows over the course of the day.

Our target audience for the game is individuals who go to malls, typically middle to upper class Americans. While more progressive and environmentally motivated individuals are likely to participate, we envision more widespread participation due to the unique and interactive aspects of the game. The game is applicable to both people with average incomes who drive vehicles like the Toyota Camry, and wealthier individuals who drive luxury cars like the Mercedes G550.  The participatory data game caters itself to the needs and desires of the particular user, based on what car they enter.  If they enter an average family vehicle, the system shows alternatives with similar safety rating, but if they pick a luxury or sports car, the system shows vehicles with similar horsepower.  The choice of a mall kiosk was especially important, as they are often located at high traffic locations and have great visibility to consumers.  Additionally, malls are typically located in suburbs where the primary mode of transportation is a car – think Long Island.

Our goals are to show that individuals generally believe they are more “green” than they are in actuality, as well as to motivate individuals to be more conscious of fuel efficiency and emissions when purchasing their next vehicle. Our interactive game does a great job of accomplishing the first goal by showing real time data on beliefs that are collected from many consumers at the mall. The second goal is accomplished with the call to action prompting users to be more conscious while also giving them specific vehicles to consider when making their next purchase.

Krithi’s Data Log – 2/12

Emails sent
Internet browsing history
Z Center ID tap
Sent text messages
Sent facebook messages
Youtube video viewing history
Made phone call to a friend
Ordered food for delivery
Gave credit card information to purchase food
IPhone location tracking record
Apple maps destination record
Athena cluster printer ID swipe
Purchased snack at Verdes with credit card
Wrote notes in Evernote app
Spotify music history
Snapchat history
Accepted Venmo Charge
Transferred balance from Venmo to Bank Account
Paid credit card statement
Linkedin search history
Career Bridge job applications
Filled out Google form for 14.20
Wrote CMS.631 blog post

Quarterback Pocket Pressure

In a recent article leading up to the Super Bowl, the New York Times used visuals from Second Spectrum analytics to highlight the impact of quarterback pressure on performance. The first visual highlights the disparity between completion percentage for quarterbacks when under pressure versus with a clean pocket to throw from. The visual compares this disparity for all thirty two NFL quarterbacks benchmarked against the league average and particularly highlights the Patriots and the Falcons. The Patriots fall from the fourth ranked to the sixteenth ranked team under pressure while the Falcons only drop from second to fourth.

This comparison leads into the next visual which uses new data released by the NFL to create a heat map showing defender traffic around the pocket in games Brady and Ryan both lost. The graphic also shows the average defenders in the pocket per snap benchmarked against the league average and team average. This element of the visual allows readers to better quantify the significance of the heat map.

These visuals aim to show that while pressure significantly effects the performance of all NFL quarterbacks, Tom Brady is particularly susceptible. Thus, a game plan designed to focus on pressuring Brady is the optimal strategy for the Falcons to defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. This data presentation was intended for readers who wanted a deeper analysis of the upcoming Super Bowl, and was successful in doing so by using a new data set to draw an intriguing comparison on the games key players.