Feb 12, 2018 AUTHOR: Wonderlab
Life Saving Graphic Design: 3D Tsunami Infographics for the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand

We love information design and we love data! But we love the impact it can have even more. Saving lives is hard to beat!

We can’t think of a more critical example than ‘safe-zone’ information graphics for Tsunamis – something we’re not immune to in New Zealand.

A wee while back we were asked to look at designing some of these information pieces. We experimented with using 3D geographical data of the areas affected in the Kapiti region of New Zealand. We found that in order to provide sufficient clarity and recognition of the zones represented, we had to exaggerate a lot of the geographically information. Kapiti is particularly ‘flat’ near the coast and this made for some interesting challenges.

It goes without saying that whatever we create – our design must improve the experience of that information for the both the ‘transmitter’ and the ‘receiver’. Good information design finds that perfect tipping point between adequate data and engaging design.

Although these designs weren’t ultimately used, we can’t help feel that added dimensions, exaggerated as they are, made a positive impact overall. They felt some how more real than the geographically correct 2D versions.

We’d love to do more and we can think of lots of applications for 3D representations of geographical data. Love to hear your thoughts on how data representation is changing how we consume information.

Just by way of comparison, here’s a look at the original data set we started with that’s completely accurate. As you can see the differences are substantial.
However, as a means of conveying a single look at the overall area, it was extremely difficult to make work.

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