Week 34: Building an Interactive Display to Visualize Violence in the DRC

This week we’re visualizing conflict data provided by ACLED.  ACLED, which stands for Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, is a “disaggregated conflict collection, analysis and crisis mapping project.”  You’ll notice throughout the Tableau Community this week that there are several partner projects going on – all designed to provide awareness on ACLED’s cause.  Zen Masters Anya A’Hearn and Allan Walker are responsible for orchestrating this massive collaboration campaign.

For Workout Wednesday’s part, we were passed this brief “Create a map for the Democratic Republic of the Congo in which we depict where specific actors have engaged in violence. This way we can begin to understand what locations have seen a multitude of actors engaging in violence.  With the recent Ebola outbreak in the DRC, humanitarian groups are interested in understanding what groups may be most active and in which locations they have engaged in violence.”  This included a specific data set focused on militant groups within the DRC and including a record for each actor engaged in a specific event (and as you can imagine, there’s usually multiple parties involved in a violent event).  It’s important to recognize and point out that this data set is different than ACLED’s traditional event-based set, which is not narrowly limited to the DRC or militant groups.

So the focus and challenge for this workout turned into creating an interactive display that would allow humanitarian groups to explore specific areas and quickly gain insight into recent violent acts.  Some things we kept in mind were ensuring the final work was approachable (and simple) for end users less familiar with Tableau.  I think you’ll find throughout the challenge there’s a pristine level of detail in the design and technical aspects that help promote simplicity.  It’s also intentionally been put into a format that may resemble a dashboard template found in a business/enterprise environment.

click to view interactive version on Tableau Public



  • Dashboard size: 1200 x 800; 8 sheets (7 tiled, 1 float)
  • Create a map of each event with color & shape depicting year
  • Create BAN of total involved actors
  • Create bar chart of # events by year, including custom legend & highlight on map
  • Create treemap of most involved actors, # events involved in, date of last activity, and viz in tooltip verison of map
  • Create a section showing most recent event and militants involved
  • Mechanics of Interactivity
    • Users should be able to select marks on the map using either the rectangle, radial tool, or lasso; users shouldn’t be able to re-position map, or exclude points
    • Filtering on the map should affect the charts on right
    • The viz in tooltip displays each event for actor, and also reflects filtering of the larger map and includes labels of locations
    • When a recent even includes more than 200 characters in the description, it should have an ellipse (…) display in the sheet space, however the tooltip should include the full description
    • Date range at top should filter appropriately
  • Additional inclusions
    • Hover-over information button
    • Logo for ACLED sourced from here 
    • Icon for mouse selection – you can freely use this icon I own the rights to without attribution here
  • And don’t forget to match all other tooltip requirements
  • Pay attention to the titles, particularly the overall dashboard title section
  • White space matters on this one – for those who have wanted to flex their skills at padding and layout containers: now is your chance

Data from this week was provided by ACLED and can be downloaded at data.world

After you finish your workout, share on Twitter using the hashtag #WorkoutWednesday and tag @AnnUJackson, @LukeStanke, @RodyZakovich, and @ACLEDINFO.  Please be sure to include the additional hashtag #ACLEDconflictviz.

Also, don’t forget to track your progress using this Workout Wednesday form.


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