When the blackout in Venezuela happened, we found out that the country has been struggling with its electrical grid for some time. Then we wondered: Can you see the economic crisis from space?
With data and imagery from \”Radiance Light Trends\”, we were able to show that the economic crisis has led to a decrease in light radiance of Venezuelan cities over the years.
What makes this project innovative?
Satellite imagery has been in use for some time to show the effect of wars such as in Syria. However, to our knowledge it is the first time that someone in data journalism showed the visual mark that an economic crisis has left behind.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
It had more than 10,000 minutes of engagement time which is quite good for our standards as a small newspaper and an average of 1:02 engaged minute per user. Furthermore, the scientists who helped us with their radiance emission website were as well astonished that you could see the effects that clearly.
Source and methodology
Starting with shapefiles for administrative boundaries from the UN's OCHA services (https://data.humdata.org/dataset/venezuela-administrative-level-0-1-and-2-boundaries), we isolated with QGIS the cities that we were interested in. Then we transformed the data into WKT format, uploaded it to Radiance Light Trends (https://lighttrends.lightpollutionmap.info) and retrieved screenshots for the light radiance over time as well as the raw data of the light emission. Lastly, we calculated the linear best-fit in a very simple Excel spreadsheet and visualized the results with our in-house tools Sue (https://sue.st.nzz.ch/) and Q (https://editor.q.tools/login)
Qgis, Excel, Sue, Q
Haluka Maier-Borst, Balz Rittmeyer, Samuel Misteli