CS&PF – Sandettie Lightship Buoy Data, Comparing Historical Data to 2013

I previously did some interactive data visualisations of the Sandettie Lightship Buoy Data to try and get an idea of how the air temperature effects the water temperature, and also to compare 2013′s extremely cold Spring to previous years. I did this by taking all the historical data available and plotting it on a single time series chart.

However I was thinking the other day that perhaps a better way to look at this would be to take all the historical data from 2004 to 2012, calculate the average for each day and then plot this against the values for 2013. I also included the minimum and maximum values from the historical data.

At first I had the air and water temps on one chart but it was starting to get a bit corwded so in the end I split them into two separate pages.

The HTML5 interactive charts for the water temperatures can be viewed here:

The HTML5 interactive charts for the air temperatures can be viewed here:

As with the previous charts I have also included a rolling average to try and smooth out the spiky data as well as a plot of the original time series data.

As of the 30th of May the water temperature was 10.2C. The previous lowest ever recorded for this date was 11.2C, the average 12.3C and the highest ever recorded was 13.3. So we seem to be still 2C below the expected average for this time of year. :-/

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Results of Hampton Court Swim – Public Health England Report

This is not really the sort of thing I blog about on here but I received this email today and thought that some of my non wetsuit which you can get more at Buy4Outdoors,  swimming friends would appreciate some of the findings. I searched around online for a link where I could share the content but not being able to find one I decided to post the email here so as to easily share it.

I would first like to say that The Hampton Court Swim is a great event! I have participated in it for the last two years and both times the experience has been amazing and despite my recent disappointment with this years Human Race Eton 10K event, I could not and would not fault the organisation of the previous Hampton Court swims.

Unfortunately shortly after the running of the 2012 swim there where a number of people that reported becoming very ill and as a result Human Race and the Health Protection Agency conducted a survey of the participants to try and establish the cause of the illness and what factors may have increased or decreased the risk of becoming ill.

The email below is the one I received today and I suspect the findings will cause some amusement among the more traditional “channel rules” swimmers out there.


Dear Swimmer,

Thank you to everyone who supplied their feedback following the Hampton Court Swim 2012. Public Health England has compiled the following report based on your feedback and Human Race are taking every possible step to ensure that swimmers have the facilities for hand and wetsuit washing at this year’s event. Please see below for more detailed information;

A new report published today by Public Health England (PHE) shows that swimming in the River Thames can carry a risk of gastrointestinal illness.

The report was produced following an investigation by PHE, and event organisers Human Race, into an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness amongst participants of the Hampton Court Swim which took place on Sunday 7 October 2012 in the stretch of river between Hampton Court and Kingston Bridge. Over 1000 people took part in the swim and 338 reported experiencing symptoms of illness after the swim including nausea, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and vomiting.

The investigation found that no one single cause of illness in the majority of people could be identified but it is possible that illness was caused by a virus or bacteria that remained undetected. As expected by the researchers, those who were ill were more likely to have swallowed river water but, unexpectedly, wearing a wetsuit was also associated with increased risk of becoming ill, which may be due to inadequate hygiene precautions when handling wetsuits after swimming. Previous experience of swimming in an open water event in a river in the past two years and being over 40 years of age was associated with reduced risk.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE London, said: “Open water swimming is growing in popularity in the UK. Many people may already be aware that swimming in natural rivers and lakes, which may not be designated bathing waters, carries a risk of picking up infections. This study presented an opportunity to better understand the health risks associated with open water swimming, develop advice to assist organisers of open water swimming events, and tips to help swimmers to protect themselves from infections in future.

“Further research is needed to make evidence-based recommendations for swimmers and event organisers, however there are practical measures swimmers can take to reduce the risk of illness such as minimising the swallowing of river water, showering soon after swimming and washing hands before eating.”

Victoria Hall, lead author of the report and an epidemiologist at PHE, said: “We worked with the event organisers Human Race to organise an online survey for race participants. There was an immense response with over 700 people taking part in the survey.

“Some people provided samples for laboratory testing but the only positive results were four cases of Giardia and one case of Cryptosporidium. While these organisms can cause gastrointestinal illness and have been associated with swimming in lakes or rivers, it is unlikely that these organisms caused the majority of illness in participants as people became ill too quickly.

“We have to be cautious when interpreting the finding that wearing a wetsuit was associated with illness. This could be due to a factor that was not measured in our survey. However, it could be that handling a wetsuit after swimming may pose an infection risk and this warrants further investigation. While we are not recommending that people stop wearing wetsuits, sensible precautions to reduce the chances of infection, such as and cleaning wetsuits thoroughly after swimming, should be considered.”

“We found that being over 40 years of age and having swum in an open water event in a river in the last two years were protective factors against illness. This could be related to experience, either behaviours whilst swimming or after swimming, or perhaps signifies enhanced immunity resulting from greater previous exposure.”

Human Race has welcomed the findings of the report and has put in place measures to ensure that participants can take the necessary steps to avoid being ill following open water swimming.

All participants taking part in this year’s Hampton Court Swim will be highly recommended to ensure that they wash their hands and shower as soon as possible following the swim, based on the recommendations from Public Health England. In addition to this, Human Race will be encouraging participants to properly wash down their wetsuit and will be providing somewhere to wash hands to ensure that every possible step is taken to avoid participant illness.

Nick Rusling, CEO of Human Race said: “We continue to work very closely with Public Health England to reduce the risk of illness at future events. Based on their findings we have introduced measures, at no extra cost to our competitors, to ensure that we go over and above the recommendations and provide the best possible experience for our participants. While swimming in open water will always carry some risk, the vast majority of competitors in our events have a very positive experience. Good hygiene practice should always be part of everyone’s routine.”

Yours in sport,

The Human Race Team


If you are interested in finding out more about the Human Race Hampton Court swim or perhaps even signing up for it then please vist the link below:


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NME’s Top Albums – Updated to include 2011 & 2012

You can view the final interactive Flash version here:

I had an hour to kill this evening so I added updated the NME Top Albums interactive visualisation to include the results for 2011 & 2012. “Dream Pop” seems to have become a popular genre for 2012. With “Indietronica“, “Neo-psychedelia“,  ”Psychedelic Pop” and “Psychedelic Rock” all doing well.

2011 was more of a mixed bag with “Folk Rock” and “Experimental Rock” being the only two that stand out above the crowd.

However this being NME will still have the ever present “Indie Rock” and “Alternative Rock” dominating both years.

If I get the chance this weekend I might also try and new versions of the “End of Year Top Albums for 2010” to show the charts for 2011 & 2012.

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CS&PF – Sandettie Lightship Buoy Data

The HTML5 interactive charts can be viewed here:


With this year’s late start to Spring the question was recently asked – “would this have an effect on the summer sea temperature?” This question was especially relevant to some friends of mine who are booked in for solo and relay channel crossings. Especially for channel soloists, where a couple of degrees diference to the water temp can have a huge impact when swimming 12-16 hours in open water.

So we attempted to answer this question :-)

There are various offshore monitoring stations but the most relevant to Channel swimmers is the Sandette Lightship Buoy which is owned and operated by the UK Met Office. Its position is 51.103 N 1.800 E (51°6’9″ N 1°48’0″ E) – roughly due North from Calais and due East of Dover.

The Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation (CS&PF) website has detailed charts plotting the data recorded from this buoy going back to 2004. However it is very “spiky” data and as you can only view the charts for each year it is difficult to get a quick overview of all the data. So the first thing I did was scrape their data and put it into a single time series chart. This gave you a better overview but was still difficult to interpret.

So the next thing to do was to plot the moving average and smooth out the spikes. This is a great way to get a better look at the underlying curve and thus makes it easier to visually interpret the shae and trend of the changes.

So it appears that although there is a “seasonal lag” between the water temp and air temp, it seems to only be over a 1-2 week period i.e. a cold Winter or late start to Spring does not seem to have a impact on the water temperature in July/August. The channel season water temperature is more dependent on the air temperature during June/July then it is Feb/March.

One important thing to note is that because Sandettie station is a buoy, the air temperature recorded there is very near the sea surface. It means that the sea will greatly moderate the air temperature reading. To get a better understanding of the air temperature effect on the water you really need to source the air temperature data from elsewhere. Possibly some Met data for Dover. If anyone can recommend a historical data set for air temperature in Dover/Calais then please send me the link and I will swap out the air temp data from the buoy.

The charts where created using dygraphs JavaScript Visualization Library which you can download from here: http://dygraphs.com/

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Cold Water Poll for Open Water Swimmers

Owswimming.com recently conducted a poll to explore how swimmers from different countries defined “cold”. They have posted the results on their blog and you can check it out here.

“When I showed these results to my fellow swimmer (and wife) Susan, she said “Duh, so swimmers from cold weather can stand colder water”.  Well, it is true that I am not solving the Riemann Hypothesis, but I kind of like having data that supports anecdotal assumptions.”

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HTML5 – Data Visualisation Open Source Development Tools

I started working on a new interactive dataviz yesterday and I am determined that this project is designed and developed using HTML5 rather then Flash. I have already started putting some bits together with Google Charts but just thought it might be useful to list some of the various dataviz open source tools/libraries that I am curently looking at in case there are any other Flash people looking to move other to HTML5 as well.

I am also very keen to hear from anybody else if they have some open source tools to recommend.

D3 - Data-Driven Documents

D3.js is a JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. D3 helps you bring data to life using HTML, SVG and CSS. D3’s emphasis on web standards gives you the full capabilities of modern browsers without tying yourself to a proprietary framework, combining powerful visualization components and a data-driven approach to DOM manipulation.


CrossFilter - Fast Multidimensional Filtering for Coordinated Views

Crossfilter is a JavaScript library for exploring large multivariate datasets in the browser. Crossfilter supports extremely fast (<30ms) interaction with coordinated views, even with datasets containing a million or more records.


Google Charts – Display live data on your site

Google chart tools are powerful, simple to use, and free. Try out our rich gallery of interactive charts and data tools.


JpGraph – Powerful PHP Driven Charts

JpGraph is an Object-Oriented Graph creating library for PHP >= 5.1 The library is completely written in PHP and ready to be used in any PHP scripts (both CGI/APXS/CLI versions of PHP are supported).


Tablea Public - Data In. Brilliance Out.

It is a free-to-use program that offers analytic capability, with the limitations that visualizations are limited to 100K rows of data and can only be saved to the Tableau Public servers.


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Most Profitable Hollywood Stories

The Flash based wireframe and CMS can be viewed here:


I was going over some old ‘unfinished’ projects when I came across this interactive ‘wireframe’ and CMS that I developed. So I thought I would post it up. I was very disappointed I didn’t get to ‘skin this up’ but at the time I had just started a new contract at UBS and my time was suddenly taken up with designing and building a prototype tool for traders to view their overnight risk calculations against trade types.

The concept and data behind this was put together by David McCandless of “Information Is Beautiful” and ultimately used as the  basis for his 2012 “Hollywood Dataviz Challenge”. You can see the shortlist for the interactive finalists here.

Would be fun to return to this one day as I built a lot of additional tools that connect to various movie website APIs and also some tools for scraping data from Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). The CMS also has a nice feature where it ‘guesses’ the movie’s URL on wikipedia, IMDb and provides quick links to these guesses as well as a quick search link for the title on Google. These quick search links where designed to aid a researcher find and update the data. Once the correct perma-links to the movies’ pages where in the system it became easier to automate the data management and ultimately the aim was to create a script to update the ‘numbers’ each night.

Another interesting change since I did this is Google now has data for movies on the search result page so it would be interesting to explore if there was an API for this or even just putting together a script to scrape this data.

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Evolution of Batman logo, 1940-2012

When I did the interactive “History of the Batmobile” I included as many different bat logos in the background as I could find. They were stylised as “bat signals” but they weren’t in any particular order and I don’t think I had specific information on their origin to tag them up to the appropriate year.

This new poster from “Calm the Ham” – http://calmtheham.com would have been extremely useful.

I may go back and update the timeline at some point in the future, as there have been a few new batmobiles since I created it, and if I do then hopefully I can add additional information to add some structure to the bat logos.

Posted in Data Visualisation, Fun Stuff | Tagged , | 2 Comments

New Year’s Resolution – Keep it Simple!

Hopefully the title says it all!

Icons for the “Ten Laws of Simplicity” by John Maeda

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” — Hans Hofmann

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Some good reads on the subject:

The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything
by Matthew May

Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design (Voices That Matter)
by Giles Colborne

The Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)
by John Maeda

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Stephen Few – Introducing Bandlines

Bandlines: Sparklines Enriched with Information about Magnitude and Distribution.

The latest newsletter from Stephen Few of Perceptual Edge is out today and it looks quite interesting. I would love to do an interactive version of this.

“In the last edition of this newsletter I wrote about the many ways in which sparklines can be scaled to serve various purposes and convey different aspects of time-series values. This article grew out of discussions that I had with several of you in my blog and discussion forum about the way that sparklines are sometimes deficient when used in dashboards. Now, in this new edition of the newsletter, I’m continuing along this same path, but this time I’m introducing a new version of sparklines, called bandlines, which are designed to include a great deal more information without overcomplicating them.”

You can read the full PDF by clicking here.

I would also recommend you check out his other articles, newsletters and blog at: http://www.perceptualedge.com/

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