2016 | World Health Organization

Visualizing Inequity in Urban Settings

Reporting, Dataviz, Editorial Design, and Interactive

The World Health Organization and UN–Habitat’s joint report, “Hidden Cities: Unmasking and Overcoming Health Inequities in Urban Settings” was released in 2010. Five years later, technology was rapidly transforming how people consumed content and important research risked falling through the cracks. Representatives asked Accurat for help with a holistic revamp of the text to raise awareness of its more–pressing–than–ever issues.


In 2015, researchers from WHO’s Centre for Health Development in Kobe, Japan, wanted to follow up on their investigation into the poverty–afflicted “Hidden Cities” of major metropolitan areas. In addition to updating figures, authors wanted to develop a future–proof strategy that would boost the mileage of their reporting for years to come. They contacted Accurat for help in re–imagining the data–driven study as a highly engaging work of visual reporting, optimized for print, web, and a global, multilingual audience.


Over the course of six months, we collaborated with WHO’s researchers in Japan to analyze data, design and develop static and interactive visualizations, and handle all activities related to publication, distribution, and web deployment. Our analysts, designers, and engineers oversaw the end–to–end production of a brand new print report and a digital data explorer.

In designing a visual language for both web and print materials, we kept a key subset of the audience top–of–mind: elected and appointed public officials. We sketched styles redolent of architectural and urban planning diagrams to present information clearly, in a visual vernacular that would resonate with policy makers. Beyond visualizations, we came up with other inventive ways to enrich the reading experience. In both the print and web version of the report, for example, we utilized page margins to add annotations that clarified and/or emphasized text.


The full–color, 240–page report was printed in ten languages and distributed across the globe. The same research was made available online as a web experience via a mobile optimized data explorer, retro–compatible with legacy browser technology.
Our print visuals combined four-color and duotone pages, creating the effect of a full-color publication while drastically reducing production costs. To achieve this, the maps and visualizations in the report were designed balancing the use of dual tone patterns, where black ink is paired with a different color in each of the book chapters.
Detail: Proportion of urban households with dirt floors by wealth quintile.
Maps of areas located within the proximity of one or more alternative transport networks in Bilbao, Spain.
Population density compared with energy usage.

In the online version of the Digital Executive Summary, tags and keywords on the margins of the webpage are connected by colored lines to passages in the text.
The Data Explorer contains interactive visualizations compatible with legacy browser technologies. The dashboard provides a deep level of analysis with basic HTML scripting and works seamlessly on old and new devices.


Presented officially in Geneva in March 2016, The Global Report was recognized as an important contribution to the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development that took place in Quito in October of the same year. Scholars and field workers praised the unusual compositions and the richness of Accurat’s data visualizations, which led to a greater–than–average level of interest among policy makers.
Federica Bardelli
Marco Bernardi
Paolo Corti
Luca Falasco
Stefania Guerra
Pietro Guinea
Giorgia Lupi
Giovanni Marchi
Alex Piacentini
Simone Quadri
Tommaso Renzini
Gabriele Rossi
Marco Vettorello
Tommaso Zennaro
Editorial Design
Dataviz, Experience, WebApp, and Mobile App Design
Interactive, Dataviz, Storytelling, and Experience


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