Rob Katz

Mapping the Majority

Mapping the Majority1At a press conference in DC yesterday, the IDB unveiled a cool new interactive tool called ?Mapping the Majority.? It’s an interactive Flash mapping tool–low-bandwidth readers, consider yourselves warned before clicking through. But for those of us with fast enough connections, I wholeheartedly encourage you to check it out. Similar to the remittance mapping that IDB’s done in the past, Mapping the Majority takes economic, demographic, and other national-level data and integrates it with a map of Latin America. Think proprietary mash-up and you’ve probably got the right idea.

The tool covers 5 topic areas: financial democracy, enterprise compact, basic infrastructure, digital dividend, and housing. Unsurprisingly, these five were singled out as focus areas by the IDB’s new president in yesterday’s briefing. (This is all part of the run-up to next week’s Building Opportunity for the Majority conference.) Within the five areas are data spanning 58 different indicators: from access to piped water to percentage of SMEs that reported increased investment in the previous 12 months and everything in between. The visuals are stunning–try selecting a few indicators and then switching between countries. There are options to see data tables, export to Excel, or print. Users can also see national data–like countries? Gini coefficients–in comparative maps of the whole continent. Check out the Gini map, actually–the universality of red (very high) really drives home the scale of income inequality in Latin America. Oh, and it’s available in both English and Spanish versions.

OK, so maybe you?re not an economics nerd like myself, or a computer nerd wannabe (also guilty). Why should you bother checking out this tool? With mapping the majority, the IDB has made it possible for lay users–business especially–to learn more about the economic and social status of Latin America using easy-to-understand but compelling graphics. Plus, it’s all in one place. As I’ve said before, maps are important in one’s ongoing quest to turn data into convincing data. Hey, if you?re not convinced, check out Al Gore. The man’s made a blockbuster about a PowerPoint presentation–if that doesn?t convince you, I don?t know what will. Happy mapping.