A tool for allocating vision impairment resources
'The teams behind the apps' is a series of videos made by the EU Datathon finalists. Get to know the people and their proposals for apps over nine episodes, once a week, in a run-up to the EU Open Data Days. During this online event in November, the teams will pitch their apps to the jury who will select the winners in the competition finals.
In this seventh episode you get to meet ‘VisImE-360’. The team is competing with two other teams in challenge 3: ‘A Europe fit for the digital age’. Vision impairment is a prevalent health condition worldwide. The Italian-based tool helps allocate resources for corrections or medical aid. A wide set of indicators will help stakeholders to map vision impairment, draw comparisons between various countries, plan public health actions, and improve access to treatment.
Boris Bikbov is the driving force of VisImE-360 and he joined us for an interview in which we talked about the app, the idea that led to its creation, and the progress so far.
How are you doing with the app? What’s the status?
The app is in active development, and it is both exciting and challenging to implement the visualisation of complex data on so many topics related to vision impairment in the EU! Through a comprehensive search, I identified more than 150 Eurostat data sets containing information of interest and will now use the core parameters in the first release of the app.
I programmed the reproducible dataflow pipelines to obtain and merge information, which required some time but will guarantee sustainability during future data releases. During the construction of the app, I used the already proven figure types and – prior to this – produced some visualisations that have never been used before to better reflect the rich data from Eurostat and other open data sources. I am particularly dedicated to making the content accessible for people with different forms of vision impairment, including decreased visual perception in general and colour vision deficiency or colour blindness in particular.
The app will be launched in November, just before the EU Datathon. After that, I will update it with new data and new visualisations, while the feedback from future users will play an important role in setting the priorities for its development.
How did you come up with the idea for this app?
Eurostat is one of the major providers of open data. Before this project, I had used only a small amount of its data, which were already presented in the form of reports or other publications. However, as a researcher and data scientist, I have always been interested in working directly with raw data to produce reports, visualisations and tables that will be useful for others. With this idea in mind, I started to search for information on which data sets are available at Eurostat, how dictionaries for their coding are organised, which other open data exist to complement the full picture, which approaches for analysis are used, etc. Once I had a good understanding of these aspects, I realised that a substantial effort would be required to perform the analysis and present the data in all its complexity and, I would add, beauty. At this point, I started to look for grants supporting open data analysis and eventually found the information about the EU Datathon. I began working on the project the next day, so that was the beginning of my new journey.
Who is your app for?
I expect that the app will be in demand from a wide variety of stakeholders including policymakers, patient organisations, members of the media and social service workers, to name but a few. I hope it will also be interesting to all citizens, both with and without vision impairment. In addition, I suppose it will be important for the distributed community of people working in statistical bureaus of all levels, from local country provinces to the central Eurostat office – because each report and each app using these data indicate how indispensable their work is for millions of people.
The app will present a vast set of indicators on the burden of vision impairment in ‘easy-to-perceive’ visualisations, tables, and short summaries. These will cover all EU Member States and facilitate better planning of public health actions to improve access to treatment, education, and social integration of persons with vision impairment. I want to make the app that will help people!
To find out more about VisImE-360, watch the 1-minute video.