Carl-Johan Skoeld of China-based strategic advisory firm Stenvall Skoeld & Company presented the following Sankey diagram in his recent post on ‘How a 31-year old Shanghai office worker spends his money’.


(Stenvall Skoeld & Company via ChartPorn)

This is a fine sample of a Sankey diagram that merits some more explanation:
In fact, these are two combined Sankey diagrams. The overall sum of 10,000 RMB income breaks down to some 25% taxes, 19% savings and 56% spendings (consumption). The Sankey arrow representing the disposable income is then zoomed to allow for more detail to be seen. Hence the Sankey arrows in the left part of the diagram are not the same scale as the ones on the right. The arrows branching out to the top are considered “necessities”, while the one that go downwards represent “discretionary spendings”. Circles at the end of the arrow show the amount in Chinese currency. As the author points out, “this example is from one of the respondents and not an average of all respondents.”

Blog reader W. Rufer sent a scan of a Sankey diagram from his favourite soccer magazine.

Rufer writes: “I found this rather unusual Sankey diagram in a German soccer magazine called 11Freunde (11Friends). It visualizes the career of French international Nicolas Anelka in terms of transfer and lending fees. He started in the youth team of Paris Saint-Germain, changed to their first team in 1995 and got sold to Arsenal for 750’000 € (left side of the Sankey diagram). From there he made his way through Europe, sometimes for incredible transfer fees of about 35 million €. Now, as a rather old player, he earns his money in China.”

The legend also has grey arrows, when Anelka was “on loan” to another club. The change to his current club was without tranfer fee (different blue).

Following up to yesterdays post on the supply chain visualization by TRUTHstudio. Imagine the concept described for the meat production sector blown up to cover the all sectors of the U.S. economy, and showing all the links between these sectors. There you are: Economy Maps, “an interactive visual map of the United States economy and its environmental impacts” by Jason Pearson.

In the first version the economy maps covered 24 major sector groups, and were apparently “static”. However, they already were beautifully designed Sankey-style maps of the environmental impacts caused directly or indirectly by these sectors of the economy.

Here is an image from that first edition of Economy Maps:

Jason comments: “The CEDA database (from which Economy Map derives its data) was developed by Dr Sangwon Suh at UC Santa Barbara, and that image … was actually an illustration for an academic article by Dr Suh.”

Development has continued and today in Economy Maps 2.0 beta is available as a fully interactive browser based Java application or a downloadable file for Mac or Win. It allows to view the environmental impact for several categories (such as global warming protential, ozone depletion, acidification, land use, freshwater aquatic exotoxicity potential and so on). Each diagram is presented in a different color but with the same structure: The first column are the goods obtained from the different sectors. The middle column contains all sectors that have an exchange of goods. The right column represents the consumers, both private and governmental. For each impact category users can visually grasp the relative contribution of each sector to an environmental impact category represented by the width of the band. Each sector is profiled according to three distinct perspectives on environmental impact as explained in yesterday’s post.

I have included a video of Jason explaining the economy maps below, it is wortwhile watching to fully understand the details.

The diagrams are based on statistical financial data and makes use of the economic input-output life cycle assessment (EIOLCA) method. “Financial data are drawn from ‘use’ tables published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the US Department of Commerce. Environmental data are drawn from Sustainable Materials Management: The Road Ahead, a report from the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The report includes an economy-wide study that identifies the relative contribution of each industrial sector to major environmental categories. The study makes use of output from the CEDA 3.0 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Economic Input/Output (EIO) database”.

It should be noted that there are a lot of assumptions built into the methodologies used to calculate environmental impacts, and some of these methodologies are quite controversial. Also, the data is from 1997, and financial interaction between the sectors has most likely changed since. According to the author, Economy Maps at present should be considered a prototype, and users “should be careful in relying on Economy Maps for ‘answers’ at this point…”

Users can pull the nodes of the middle column apart and sort them in order to untangle the spaghetti and get a clearer picture of the economic interactions between the sectors and their associated direct and indirect environmental impacts in the different categories. The height of the economy sector node represents the magnitude of the environmental impact, the font size of the node name corresponds to the node size. The nodes move with a nice soft scroll effect as we love it. Try the online version of Economy Maps 2.0 or download the desktop version.

Economy Maps are “work in progress” and we can expect updates as data for more recent years become available.

Here is the 60 second video of Jason explaining the Economy Maps. For a longer video visit economymap.org.

I recently discovered Jason Pearsons fantastic visualizations at his TRUTHstudio website. TRUTHstudio is a consultancy that provides research, analysis, strategy, visualization, and communication support. In the projects presented, Jason focuses primarily on direct and indirect environmental impacts along industrial supply chains. In the below example he features a segment of the food supply chain with the sectors “feed grain”, “meat animals”, “meat packing” and “eating places”.

The above supply chain is displayed with its land use change impact (such as transformation of forest to pasture). The unit is million square metres per year. The scale is shown on the left and the nodes are stacked on the bottom zero line. Hence the height of the node indicates the magnitude of land use change (in Mio m²) caused by this particular segment’s activities. Additionally the nodes have a flat side on the right, for the percentage of their activities that are directly delivered to consumers or government, and an arrow shaped exit when the services are delivered to another sector of the economy.
On the left edge the flat bottom segment indicates the environmental impact caused directly by the activities of this segment, while the connected arrow represents the environmental impacts caused by this segments activities in other sectors across the economy. The grey bands at the top and at the bottom represent all other sectors of the U.S. economy.

So we have three persepctives with in one Sankey diagram: direct sector impacts, indirect (or intermediate) impacts, and final consumption impacts.

This is a fascinating concept, which is used by Pearson to create an overall map of the U.S. economy, or, to be more precise, maps of environmental impacts caused directly or indirectly across the nation by industrial activities. These so-called “Economy Maps” are featured in my next blog post.

In the meantime, please watch Jason’s explanation on the ‘Three Perspectives of the Economy Map’: