Sports teams and companies have discovered that the analysis of terabytes of data generated daily during the course of business (or games and training) can be a powerful tool to improve performance and beat competition. (For every Money Ball there’s an industrial “big data” application like GE’s RailEdge Movement Planner, which makes trains run faster with less fuel.) Visualizing.org, an open community of data visualization designers and devotees assembled by GE and the Seed Media Group, challenged the data community to apply their skills and translate some of the rich data gathered during the Olympics into visual stories to understand the history, reach, impact and evolution of the Games in new ways. The results were just announced.
Take speed. We know the world’s athletes have gotten faster since the first modern Games in 1896, but by how much? “In Pursuit of Faster” visualizes time-based contests on foot, in water, and on water, broken down by gender. The tightening times for the gold, silver and bronze in the 100 meter dash finals in the last three decades, to pick just one example, show how close the race has become, and how the tiniest of edges can make the difference.
The athletes themselves study the data to capture that edge (see our video of Team USA’s sports medicine director explaining how GE’s electronic medical records system, which streamlines and makes medical data more accessible, can help). Data visualization can help the rest of appreciate and understand the Games better. Take a run through the winning entries.