Photography by:
  • Gareth Pon & Jhono Bennet

Advancing data visualisation (2021)

The GCRO continuously strives to develop new and innovative ways for data to be shared, accessed and disseminated, as new and more advanced forms of visualisations are constantly being developed globally. Beyond the importance of sharing information in accessible and interesting ways, data visualisation has become a key area of urban research. Centres such as MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab and Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab produce important visual outputs, but also regularly use data visualisation as an integral part of the research process. The seamless integration of story maps, interactive vignettes, photo essays, videos, and GIS maps into research is the major outcome of this project.

The ‘Advancing data visualisation’ project enabled the GCRO to continue to capture the public imagination by presenting information in creative ways. The project focused on disseminating information in accessible and interesting formats which also proved successful with policymakers and government officials.

In 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this project team engaged extensively with the ‘Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Gauteng’ project through a number of activities. The team produced several interactive visualisations, some of which are published below, but many of which fed directly into engagement with Gauteng Provincial Government. In addition, we provided research and advice on various platforms for the development of data displays and dashboards. This work saw the development of skills across a number of platforms and a rapid response to displaying and updating live data. The project concluded in early 2021 following the high output of 2020 and the award nomination.

Award Nominations

Three GCRO data visualisations were longlisted for the Humanities and Social Sciences Awards 2021 in the digital humanities category and subcategory of best visualisation or infographic.


In December 2020, Samkelisiwe Khanyile started attending a Data Science MOOC, offered by HarvardX on EdX.

In June 2020, Alexandra Parker, attended the one-day international workshop, Data is Beautiful, led by David McCandless.

In January 2020, GCRO intern, Yashena Naidoo attended the CODATA-RDA Research Data Science summer school hosted at University of Pretoria. In March 2020, she attended a 6 week MOOC, Spatial Data Science: The New Frontier in Analytics, hosted by Esri.

In February 2019, GCRO staff attended two days of training on the principles of data visualisation facilitated by OpenUp.

Project History

This project was initiated by Guy Trangoš and Christina Culwick in 2014, and joined by Samkelisiwe Khanyile in 2016. During 2014 GCRO worked closely with the Wits School of Arts (WSOA) Digital Arts Department to develop combined interactive data visualisation projects for students. A selection of the visualisations produced by students, based on the Quality of Life III (2013/14) Survey data, were showcased at the QoL III launch. The selection can be viewed in the list below.

One of the key visualisations produced under this project has been ‘Gauteng as a village of 100 people’. In this interactive visualisation, based on the Quality of Life IV (2015/16) Survey data, 100 figures move around the surface of a 'village', responding to the user's queries by assembling and re-assembling themselves into groups representing the numerical results of the survey.

In 2019, the project Geovisual Analytics was merged with this project. Initiated in 2015 by Samy Katumba and Samkelisiwe Khanyile, Geovisual Analytics aimed to explore different state of the art techniques for preparing and visualising data in general, and geospatial data, in particular. The project was interested primarily in geovisual analytics, interactive mapping and storytelling through story maps. The project produced an interactive storymap, titled Transforming transport in the Gauteng City-Region. The project also engaged in a collaboration with the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies (GAES) at the University of the Witwatersrand to create a reading group focused on GeoVisualisation. Colleagues Mncedisi Siteleki, Samkelisiwe Khanyile, Samy Katumba and Dr Stefania Merlo (GAES) met on a regular basis to discuss geovisualisation.


GCRO interactive visualisations

Change in exponential growth of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa and Gauteng

Household characteristics in relation to COVID-19 risks in Gauteng

De-densifying Gauteng: A thought experiment

100 GCRO Maps of the Month

Income vulnerability in Gauteng

Gauteng's elderly in the context of COVID-19

COVID-19 cases in South Africa by province

The fabric of the Quality of Life index

The fabric of the marginalisation index

The company we keep: The Quality of Life survey compared

The evolution of the Quality of Life questionnaire

Academic outputs using the Quality of Life data

Ten years of GCRO outputs

Gauteng as a village of 100 people

Shifting borders and bridges

Transforming transport in the Gauteng City-Region


What is the GCR?


We are here: Exhibition at Metropolis Annual Meeting 2018


Alexandra Parker (November 2018) 'Telling stories in research,' Intimate Partner Violence workshop, School of Public Health, 9 November 2018.

Alexandra Parker (September 2018). 'Telling stories in research,' Guest lecture, 3rd year BSc URP, University of the Witwatersrand, 11 September 2018.

Chris Wray (October 2015) ‘Showcasing urban innovation through GCRO’s urban data gallery’, Partnership for Urban innovation Colloquium, Ekurhuleni, 1 October 2015.

Samy Katumba (November 2015). ‘Telling the story of the Gauteng City-Region through a map of the month’ ESRI Africa User Conference, Cape Town, 11-13 November 2015

WSOA Interactive data visualisations 2014

In 2014 the GCRO worked closely with the WSOA Digital Arts Department to develop a set of interactive data visualisations based on our Quality of Life III (2013/14) Survey. A selection of the best projects is included below. Please click on each to download the program.

Should the program not run, please ensure that you have a Java Runtime Environment installed available here.

Jayson Junkoon - Does Gauteng trust itself?

Johara Mansura – Top 5 complaints from different income groups

Katherine Donald – Mine waste

Louwrens Ferreira – Types of pollution regarded as the biggest problem facing the community

Michelle McDulling – Gauteng’s biggest issues

Ricardo Tagliatti – Who uses Gauteng’s transport system?

Last updated: 19 August 2022


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