Revolutionizing the Data Storytelling Narrative

4 min read
May 3, 2023 3:47:15 PM

While many of us are still catching on, mySidewalk has had a front-row seat to communities across the country using data storytelling as a tool to build stronger communities. In the beginning, organizations came to us looking to communicate complex information in compelling and engaging ways. They knew that by combining data with narratives and visuals, their stories could convey insights that were easy to understand and powerful enough to inspire action.

Because let’s face it, there are many ways to think about solving a problem, but data-driven methods have quite the track record for being the most impactful. However, creating data stories that don't put you to sleep can be a challenge. Not only do you need quick access to reliable, trustworthy data, but gathering impactful insights that help make our case requires a combination of data analysis, storytelling, and design skills. And with higher expectations from the public to make data available, all of these analyses and narratives need to be easy to share and understand. For many, that kind of work exceeds time constraints, budget, and know-how to be realistic or effective.

That's where the mySidewalk platform comes in. By providing a suite of tools and resources for data storytelling, mySidewalk helps organizations create impactful data stories that positively impact communities.

The platform is designed to make every job of data storytelling easy for organizations of all sizes—and serving all kinds of missions. The platform's tools are built on top of a complete, consistent, and connected community data library and include a range of features that enable users to collect, analyze, and visualize data, as well as add unique narratives and media that can be shared instantly. Ultimately, mySidewalk users leverage the power of these tools to positively impact their communities. Here's how:

Data Collection and Analysis

mySidewalk makes it easy to collect and analyze data, create dashboards, and integrate third-party data sources. And when you can explore and manage data in a more efficient and effective way, you can uncover and provide a deeper understanding of community needs and challenges.

For example, the platform provides users with the opportunity to overlay multiple sources of data simultaneously. In fact, it’s easy to mix and match public and proprietary data from the platform alongside any customary data that your organization might have on hand. This feature allows you to pull data from various sources to get a complete, holistic understanding of what’s going on in your community. 

A city government used mySidewalk to collect data on citizen satisfaction with public services. They created a custom survey using the platform's survey tool and distributed it to citizens through social media, email, or other channels. The data collected was then analyzed using the platform's data analysis tools to identify trends and insights.


Story Development

Data is most powerful when we can see real people in the numbers. The narratives we put together driven by insights we gain from data have the ability to put resources into action and make change.

mySidewalk's tools can help you develop a compelling data story with templates that start with some of the most impactful data and analyses regarding relevant topics, as well as tools to embed custom images and narratives.

Several health organizations have used the mySidewalk platform to create a data story on the impact of substance use disorders on their community. Each made their data stories their own with the platform's custom narratives and media features, chart tools to create visualizations of substance-related hospitalizations and deaths, as well as maps showing the distribution of substance use disorder treatment facilities.

Visual Design

mySidewalk also helps you to design compelling visuals that help to bring data stories to life. These include a built-in library of visualizations for creating custom charts, maps, and infographics that can be customized to fit your community’s specific needs and conveys complex data in a simple, dynamic way.

For example, a nonprofit organization used mySidewalk to develop a data story on the impact of homelessness on their community. They used the platform's templates to create a narrative that combined data on homelessness rates with stories of individuals impacted by homelessness. They also used the platform's visualization library to make sure the data would resonate and could be easily understood.

To give you some inspiration, here are a few creative ways that users are using mySidewalk tools to create beautiful data visualizations: 

  • Understanding Opioids in Okaloosa County — The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County created this dashboard to better understand the signs of opioid use and suggest treatment options for regular medical care and emergency responses. The visualizations in the dashboard include call outs, bar graphs, line graphs and more to give users detailed insights on the opioid epidemic in Florida. 

  • The State of Playspace Inequity in Three Colorado Communities KABOOM! created a custom Playspace Inequity Prioritization Index (PIPI) to characterize disparities in playspaces across the nation. From there, KABOOM! built a dashboard to specifically address playspace inequity in three Colorado communities. Their work has also been recognized at the White House. 

  • Wichita, KS Resident Survey 2022The City of Wichita wanted to do a better job of engaging the city council members. The resident satisfaction dashboard provides supplemental data to city council members and leads their launch kit and communication strategy. The city’s budget and communications office loved the end outputs, and the visualizations helped them to see data by city council district, which helped with their strategic planning efforts. 

Delivery and Distribution

Finally, mySidewalk makes sharing and promoting your data stories simple. Whether you want to download an individual data point or embed an entire data story on your websites, social media account, or email list, there are a range of options and formats to export and share the stories you create on mySidewalk. You can also take advantage of analytics tools that enable your organization to track the impact of your data stories and optimize your distribution strategies.

One local government used mySidewalk to create data stories on the impact of a new transportation project on their community. They published the data story on their website and share it through social media channels for the public to stay in the know about the project's success. They also used the analytics feature to optimize their distribution strategy based on visitor behavior.

In Summary

As data storytelling becomes more and more common, mySidewalk is ready to provide the most powerful tools to present data in more engaging and impactful ways. By following the data storytelling workflow, businesses and organizations can transform their work through compelling stories that will positively impact their communities. Now, that's what we'd call a revolution. 

Getting started is simple. Chat with a mySidewalk team member to find the right data storytelling tools for your team and get ready to log in!

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