Monday, April 28, 2014

Project: Improved Understandability and Usability of Wake County School Lunch Data

Improved Understandability and Usability of Wake County School Lunch Data

Tagline: Data provided in excel/pdf files by Wake County converted to JSON, CSV, and TSV formats and visualized.
Team:  Ashleigh Miles, Nicole Sands, Sergio Poblete, Chung Beverly, Sam Henry & Kaleb McKinnon
Clients:The Raleigh Public Record
Details:[gitHub] [Screencast] [Site]


The Raleigh Public Record is a nonprofit, non-partisan news source that reports and documents the news of Raleigh, NC. Because data heavy news coverage like the Record's can prove difficult for many people to understand, the Record enlisted the NCSU Computer Science department's aid in creating unique and informative data visualizations. The resulting visualizations could be used in an applicable article right now, and could potentially serve as examples for reporters writing future articles.In this instance, the Record requested that the volunteers from NCSU scrape and create visualizations of public data from the Wake County Public School System website as well as from the North Carolina State Board of Education's Department of Public Instruction's website. The data available from those two websites is all in Portable Document Format (PDF) and Microsoft's proprietary Excel Binary File Format (.XLS), which are not optimal formats for creating online visualizations. In response to this roadblock the team from NCSU converted the data from PDF and XLS formats into CSV, TSV, and JavaScript Object Notation, an open standard that is much better suited to this project. Finally, the team created several visualizations examining the relationships between: a school's minority population and its needy percentage (the percentage of students at the school who are enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program), the needy percentage of an individual school and the passage of time, and individual school districts and their demographic information. We gave access to the data and visualizations, as well as the source code for our JSON Converter on our website. In the future, we would like to see the ability to allow users to select what data they want shown with what axis on different types of graphs, which would then be automatically constructed for them.

Working Website:
GitHub Repo:

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