These are the best infographics of 2016

This year’s Information is Beautiful Award winners include inspiring and hard-hitting work on US surveillance, the earth's temperature and missing migrants.

The Kantar Information is Beautiful awards were held in London last night, with an inspiring and intelligent group of data enthusiasts taking home bronze, silver and gold prizes in a range of categories. 

The awards celebrate the importance, impact and unique insight that data visualisation and infographics offer as a medium to process information. But before you think the mathematics will send you to sleep, take a moment to appreciate the in-depth and gruelling art of crafting the winners and shortlisters that make the rest of our lives simpler.

Data journalist and judge David McCandless passionately reiterated how high the calibre was this year, and even how much envy he felt of the projects. 

The overall winner with a prize of £5000, the Most Beautiful, was awarded to Peter Aldous and Charles Seife from Buzzfeed USA for their interactive map of Spies in the Skies. This project also won gold under the Data Journalism category. 

BuzzFeed News analysed and visualised aircraft location data collection by the flight-tracking website Flightradar24 to show how the US is being watched from above by hundreds of federal aircraft.

You can check out Spies in the Skies here. Image: Spies in the Skies and Data Cuisine, by Moritz Stefaner and Susanne Jaschko

Other stand out gold winners include Randall Munroe of XKCD for his Earth Temperature Timeline (which can be seen in this story), the innovative and unique Data Cuisine project by Moritz Stefaner and Susanne Jaschko, the interactive by Duncan Clark & Robin Houson at Kiln; with data from UCL, and the infographic of The Missing Migrants Map by Valerio Pellegrini and Michele Mauri.

Image: Interactive category winner by Kiln is an interactive map of commercial shipping movements based on movements in 2012.

The awards fork out £20,000 in prizes across 15 categories each year. This year has the highest entries from across a range of international students, individuals, NGOs, studios and media brands.

Gold, silver and bronze winner within each public category – Data Visualisation, Infographic, Interactive Visualisation, Data Journalism, Dataviz Website and Dataviz Project – will receive a cash prize.

There are also awards for a variety of special categories at the judges’ discretion, and of course the ultimate prize of the ‘Most Beautiful’ worth US$5000. 

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A panel of 30 judges decide on the winners - this year’s judges include Jen Christiansen from Scientific American, Kim Rees from Periscopic and past multiple winner of the Kantar Information is Beautiful awards Moritz Stefaner. 

David McCandless, who wrote the book Information is Beautiful, founded the awards five years ago together with Aziz Cami and now current creative director at Kantar, Emma Whitehead. Kantar is home to research and data such as measuring audiences and sales.

Here are some of our favourites from the shortlist.

Image: Shortlist finalist Subspotting by Dominikus Baur & Daniel Goddemeyer captures cell phone coverage along the NYC subway.

Quartz: Syria’s Civil War

The war in Syria is often a topic that makes news headlines daily but seems far too complicated for Joe Bloggs to comprehend, even though we know we should.

This interactive representation of the relationships in Syria as they stand today help to break down those questions everyone wants to ask, but feels they should already know the answer to.

Sawnh.Net: Star Wars

Star Wars fans will appreciate this 123-metre length adaptation of Episode IV. It's created in a style inspired by infographics. 

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Mona Chalabi’s Instagram

Mona Chalabi is a data editor at the Guardian US. This lady is so talented that her entire Instagram account is shortlisted, not just one infographic. She’s known for her simplistic hand drawn data visualisations that appeal to a wider audience who find numbers daunting or somewhat boring.

Her illustrated graphics remind us that seemingly irrelevant numbers apply to our lives in a very real way.

Check out Mona Chalabi’s Instagram account for her creative and vivid visualisations, ranging from the truly light-hearted to the more complex topics.


Founder of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight website solely dedicated to data analysis, Nate Silver, was famous for almost precisely predicting the 2012 US election statistics as well as baseball, much like Moneyball with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

The stats genius is currently tracking this year’s debate.

His entire site is a feast for the eyes of infographics and data visualisations, and qualifies as a standalone entry to this year’s awards, as well as some of his individual infographics such as causes of gun deaths in America.

Moovel Lab: Roads to Rome

 This data visualisation project is just plain epic and left field – do all roads really lead to Rome? 

The project unveils mobility patterns at a large scale down to detailed views of urban mobility fabric.

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Kantar Worldpanel: When The World Washes

This visual comparison of five different countries hones in on washing habits and daily routine, with a slight focus on how the water crisis in Brazil affected their habits.

The easy to understand vector images are laid out nicely in portrait form, not to mention it’s surprisingly interesting!

Heather Jones: Which Countries Censor the Internet

A recent report from Freedom House showed 61 percent of Internet users live in countries where government criticism is restricted.

Though widespread globally, censorship is not evenly distributed. Growing governmental censorship has become an increased fear among journalists and democratic countries.

The colours, linear format and random pop-out facts make this infographic well worthy of the shortlist.

Herwig Scherabon: Income Inequality in Los Angeles and Chicago

Herwig Scherabon wasn’t afraid to get abstract with his two large print visualisations of income inequality in mega US cities Los Angeles and Chicago.

Printed on matte Somerset Velvet paper and mounted on wooden boards, the striking diagrams of the cities show a matrix of blocks. The height of the blocks corresponds to the income in the respective output area.

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Randall Munroe: Earth Temperature Timeline

 This cheeky and fun timeline of the Earth’s average temperature since the last ice age glaciation is full of little laughs and harsh truths about global warming at the end. A true lengthy masterpiece.

Unfortunately the entire work was too long to include, but here's a little peak. You can check out the full thing here.

Adam E McCann: Beatles Analysis

 This infographic delves into the statistics of the Beatles hits and lyrics from albums between 1964 and 1970, including who wrote what, how often the word 'love' was mentioned and which songwriter has the largest vocabulary.

Polygraph: Hollywood’s Gender Divide and its Effect on Film

 This interactive visualisation examines the gender make-up of writers, producers, and directors behind big Hollywood films, and which films fail the Bechdel test – a test on whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

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