Image for post
Image for post

Climate Watch, the open data platform which brings together dozens of datasets, offers powerful insights from global data on climate change. However, what it fails to convey is progress on specific national commitments which are not captured in the global view.

In order to be able to demonstrate the full breadth of the activities they undertake, we set out to build national “Climate Watches” for two pilot countries—Indonesia and South Africa. The expectation was that those platforms would be visually and structurally very similar to the global platform, and we could reuse much of what had already been developed for Climate Watch to fast-track development. …


Image for post
Image for post

The new release of Trase has brought about many visual improvements to the homepage and better entry points into the tools offered by the platform. Much more has changed under the hood though, as the platform received a deep overhaul of the database and back-end focussed on a single goal: to facilitate a better way of importing new datasets into the platform.

In the beginning was the database. That is definitely true of Trase, which started off with a unique dataset describing worldwide supply chains for Brazilian soy. These data were visualised using a sankey diagram, which allowed unprecedented insight into how commodities travel through nodes of the supply chain. …


Image for post
Image for post

Back at university, I was trained in relational database design, an activity where you take a complete list of requirements for the system to be built, identify all the entities in the domain of the system and how they relate to each other, then document that model and represent it on a diagram. Thus, you arrive at the design of a complete relational database schema. Many a beautiful diagram was produced and the method made a lot of sense to me.

However, when I started work I realised a number of things, such as:

  1. Nobody knows the complete set of requirements from the outset, at least not in enough detail to inform the modelling process. Even if anyone did, those requirements would change along the way. …

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store