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Enemies Within and Without

digital data visualization

This data visualization uses a mosaic to visualize civilian casualties over the course of the war in Iraq. Seeing not only how many civilians die each year but also at whose hands these deaths occur tells a tragic story of the country and reflects the effects of the actions taken by different groups, including the United States, to try to prevent occupation forces from taking over. The course of events over the years are viewable by clicking the years at the bottom, and key events are listed at the bottom of the selected year.

Extrapolating the Data

Because the data I was handling came from Excel spreadsheets, I was able to use my skills in Excel learned in the business school to perform the necessary mathematical functions to consolidate six different tables into one, perform functions to prevent double-counting deaths, then cross-reference my results with sum totals from the database.

Telling the Story

The story told itself. The rise and fall in power of different groups is seen clearly in the number of civilian casualties. For example, the sharp decline in casualties from US troops marks the withdrawal of US involvement when President Obama took office; after the 2008 election year, civilian deaths drop dramatically. Most striking, perhaps, is the rapid rise of ISIS in 2014, as the numbers repeat a chilling story known already by anyone who watches the news. I accompanied each year's visualization with a short summary of events in that year to give a bit of context to the numbers. My goal was a visualization that told an accurate, human story not muddled by any political or partisan agenda.

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