Tracking global trends in manufacturing

UNIDO is a specialised agency of the United Nations, promoting industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalisation and environmental sustainability. In 2019, UNIDO asked us to develop a new analytics platform that would bring together a rich pool of data for field experts and policymakers around the world.

UNIDO came to us with a large volume of manufacturing data from seven different sources, across 172 countries and 22 manufacturing industries. The aim was to speed up policy making by configuring the data in such a way that users could explore freely without the need for analysts.

Data research

We ran workshops with UNIDO in London and Vienna to learn more about their audience, sketching out data visualisations and working as a team to review relevance and usefulness. Building on everything we learned, we developed a data prototype to further check our understanding and initiate a user experience proposition.

Interface design

Further prototyping and design iteration led to the development and launch of iap.unido.org, a data driven knowledge platform with clear pathways through beautifully rendered data visualisations and novel insights from leading experts. The identity and colour palette was inspired by mid-century design of the Vienna International Conference Centre, headquarters to the United Nations and UNIDO.

We need to develop data literacy, innovative tools and data visualization platforms, which allow users to understand data intuitively and interact with it in real time.

Amina J. Mohammed UN Deputy Secretary-General

Building relevance

We've helped UNIDO gain momentum through several major updates to the platform. The most recent was the addition of a new data visualisation that tracks progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda (SDG-9). Drawing on data from other UN agencies, the visualisation makes it easy to view a focus country and compare its performance with other countries and regions.

Data-driven editorial

We worked closely with UNIDO to continually refine the data visualisations so they could be easily shared in presentations and across social media. As part of this, we designed and constructed the means for UNIDO to publish in-depth research articles utilising these visualisations, together with additional charts authored though the Applied Charts editor.

Being able to author our own interactive data visualisations through Applied Charts is a real game-changer for us.

Adnan Serič Research Manager for the Department of Policy, Research and Statistics, UNIDO

Results

We delivered a powerful data resource for policymakers and researchers, helping countries build capacity towards evidence-based decision making. Since the 2019 launch, UNIDO have been able to publish dozens of articles and data visualisations exploring the impact of COVID-19 on manufacturing, and they’ve seen a 400% increase in site traffic.