Sexing up data with VPRO...

With 'urban' being more or less the main theme of the festival, urban data comes into mind as one of the areas where a lot of progress has been made in the last few years. Technologies like GPS in mobile phones allow us to unlock huge ammounts of location based data. Every day intricate data systems make the Netherlands work like a swiss clockwork. Dutch broadcasting company VPRO decided to delve into these data systems for a new crossmedial television format. Their objective? To sex up all this raw, dry and generally boring data. To give it meaning.

VPRO's Erik van Heeswijk and Jasper Koning presented this new program to the gathered PICNIC crowd in the Grand Theater this friday afternoon. The sneak preview of this television format shows great promise - a boat, represented by a blip on the radar of the Port of Rotterdam, was followed on its journey into the port, finding its way through the complex system of docks to its destination. Another example, which we didn't get to see but which the presenters told us will be in the final show, combines national data on the probability of lightning strike, the density of volatile goods, and the average response time of emergency services, to tell a compelling story about the risk distribution. All these stories will be formed into a television series starting in december. A website with interactive datasets will run alongside it. We're very excited about how these shows will end up, and about what interesting tales our national data has to tell us!