Rhodium Group is an advisory company specializing in policy, quantitative economic tools and firsthand research and analysis of global trends. The US-China FDI Project is a long-term research initiative that aims at providing greater transparency on the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) between China and the United States. With data available from 1990 to 2015, Schema was tasked with creating both an interactive and print report which would help the public understand the larger historical patterns and trends.
Schema worked closely with the team at Rhodium to visualize the data in compelling ways. A key feature of the interactive is the ability to see information in both aggregate as well as narrowed by industry, time investment types, and state / province. Schema used our data visualization platform, Arrays, to create a backend solution that would be easy for Rhodium to maintain and update as more data is collected. Additionally Schema designed the accompanying print report, providing further insight and detailed analysis on the collected data.
When I started on this project, the visual design had already been established and some development had already been done. My first task was reviewing the existing code. I could tell right away the developer (Ian Gilman) had laid a robust, logical foundation. The map was mostly working and it was responsive, no small feat.
Making my way through the list of tasks still needing to be completed, It seemed that the multi-page design was a bit “crufty”. Switching between map and pie chart views was overly cumbersome, especially since interacting with the map affected what the pies displayed. So we decided to collapse this into a single-page web app.
Throughout the time I worked on this project, I was regularly reworking and refining interactions and filters. I worked very closely with the other developer, collaboratively coding and splitting up tasks based on both expertise and familiarity with the project. I tended to take front-end tasks while he refined view controls.
Additionally, I spent considerable time fine-tuning visual design through CSS. I also implemented a good deal of responsivity, optimizing for all devices.
The US-China FDI Project points out how long-term data collection can provide insights and even counterpoints to current economic and political arguments. In addition to creating a resource for fellow researchers and policy analysts, this project makes dense, complex information available and accessible to more people. The data will be updated over the course of the next few years, as Rhodium Group continues to research the critical and changing economic relationships between the US and China.