Visualizing Asia’s Relationships with the Middle East

Asia’s New Pivot

Overview

Trade between the Middle East and China increased by 600% between 2000 and 2014, driven largely by the latter's appetite for fossil fuels, according to The Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI). In general, ties between East and South Asia and the Middle East continue to grow, and the geopolitical implications of these strengthening relationships are still hazy.

ASPI is a US-based think tank, and the group approached Schema to design a visually rich website to share their research about this complex topic with journalists, policy makers, and more. On the new website, dynamic charts allow readers to explore connections between energy-use and imports, diplomatic relations, as well as various other topics, and interactive maps show travel patterns of leaders. In-depth briefs are balanced by a bright, clean design to ease reading, and Schema carefully analyzed and integrated complicated data sets to create intuitive data visualizations. Flexible, custom visualization tools with a user-friendly content management system (including Schema’s Gist platform) allow ASPI to easily share more about these evolving and important stories in the future. Explore the website.

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Process

A strong integration of editorial vision and design expertise can help present complex research topics to the general public. ASPI and Schema have a fruitful ongoing relationship, and after Schema designed their China Dashboard, the group came to them to create a visually compelling website to share their research on the developing regional ties between East and West Asia with the general public. ASPI brought an initial dataset to Schema, which the firm used to create a series of prototypes and design directions. ASPI settled on an initial interactive map that would show leaders’ travel between regions: a dynamic visualization that could communicate important information about the regions’ strengthening relationships. Through an ongoing collaboration, a full website design emerged that catered to the research-heavy project and incorporated a series of data visualizations to help users explore complicated topics.

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Interactive map showing strategic and diplomatic relations.
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Donut chart showing China's energy mix, built using Gist.
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Interactive graphs, built using Gist.

Outcome

Working with ASPI to understand what data was important to highlight, Schema designed custom visualization templates using Gist that are specific enough to apply to their unique project topics but flexible enough to work for multifaceted data sets. The site would launch with briefs on two countries, China and India, with the site eventually expanding to include eight. Schema designed the website so that both the text and various visualizations would be easy for ASPI to update, so they can continue to share their research as it becomes available.

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