The Population Council’s initiative Population, Environmental Risks, and the Climate Crisis (PERCC) has developed an open access, freely available model framework that provides computer simulations of population dynamics and change. This Community Demographic Model, or CDM, investigates the relationships between population, economic, climate, and environmental changes. CDM projections illuminate different communities’ resilience, vulnerability, and capacity to adapt—providing insight for climate research and actions to enhance equity and well-being.
The PERCC team wanted to fine tune and improve the user experience of the models they had in development, and they needed a clean, easy to navigate website as a “one-stop shop” for visitors. The challenge lay in finding ways to maintain the integrity and complexity of the data, while simplifying the user interface so both researchers and those new to the data could explore.
After a series of initial working sessions, we determined rShiny as the optimal application to process the data and make it interactive; we also understood quickly that an open access model would require extremely robust server support in order to run smoothly.
We developed a style guide that included a weighted color palette to communicate size, frequency, and clearly show impacts. We discussed in length each model and the story it told, determining what data visualizations were most suitable. Ensemble and Population Council team members worked tirelessly to refine and test the data, run the scenarios and ensure that interactions were clear. Once the model builds were underway, we determined the website’s architecture and designed and built the WordPress site. We incorporated Population Council and PERCC branding and a homepage with quick links to each model.