Project description

The topic of migration in Italy is often simplified for electoral purposes and is often the subject of fake news. Through maps, numbers and infographics, we have tried to reverse this trend. With a path that starts from our country and expands out into the world, we have tried to prove wrongs the false beliefs and explain aspects that are often not considered: the goal is to show the big picture of a global phenomenon which is certainly more complex, but also more truthful.

We started from what we called “The Fake migrant emergency”: in the summer 2018, where NGOs ships were forbidden from landing in our ports and we had a continuous stream of EU summits on immigration. The data from the Ministry of the Interior told us a different reality: the percentage of migrants landing in Italy decreased of almost the 80% compared to the previous year. Scrolling down on our longform people can firstly discover where migrants went from and to then widen the perspectives at the whole Mediterranean Sea with a focus on Greece and Spain.

Then we moved our perspective to Europe, pointing out what are the countries which host most refugees and then we moved again to the whole word to underline a big evidence we always forget. By infographics we show that the flow of migrants is not directed towards Europe but towards developing nations such us Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon or many african nations. We analyzed with two different word map the amount of displaced people both for war and persecution and for climate change, introducing a big evidence: of the 30.6 million people who were forced to leave their homes in 2017, as much as 18.8 million of those were forced to move due to climatic events. But what are the relation between catastrophic climate events and climate change? We have a lot of studies and reports, but we wanted something more, what could give the idea using our concept the Atlas. So we decided to overlap – on a word map – data about refugees, displaced people and asylum seekers with the index on climate change that NASA analyzes year by year at every latitude and longitude of the globe. The goal is to demonstrate at a first look what climate change is driving: a huge exodus especially from the poorer nations and area. As you can easy notice regarding the map the impact of global warming is most incisive on the equator and very profound in the less developed areas of the planet.

What makes this project innovative?

The point for us was to widen the perspectives to understand a complex phenomenon as the migration that many politicians tried to simplify inciting populistic and xenophobic feelings. We used the metaphor of Atlas, an old tool to discover the geography, the diversity and the complexity of the whole world. Than we used a narrative path that start from the little and goes to the big; our longform starts from Italy of 2018 and leads very far. The idea is to create a narrative climax using data, infographics, but mostly maps. We compared these digital charts to the old navigation maps, basic tool to surf over fake news and fake beliefs. Each part of the long form is a part of a large puzzle: only scrolling down to the end you can reach a deep awareness of the issue and understand the position and the meaning of every single piece. Usually, to fight fake news you make some kind of fact checking, but we want something more: firtsly we want to tell a story (a common story for too many people in the world), secondly we want to put the reader in the search of the “trigger points” of large migrations and between these trigger points you can find causes often ignored like global warming. So we chose to focus on a relevant topic for our nation (and for all Europe) not just contradicting lies and populist propaganda, but using data and maps to create a counter-narrative based on evidences and aiming at the involvement of the reader.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

When we published our "Atlas of migrants" in August there was in our country a wide debate about refugees. When we decide to work on this project we realized that there were many projects about refugees, a lot of datasets about individual focus, but never a complete project. And we aimed to publish a decisive and full and easy to use factchecking about migrants in Italy and Europe.

Source and methodology

We collected data from the Ministry of the Interior and we mixed them from with data of UNHCR -statistics and figures about european landing of migrants- in order to create maps and graphs related to Mediterranean Sea and Mediterranean Countries (Greece and Spain). Data from UNHCR have been very useful to show the list of european countries hosting more refugees and where migrants often used to go instead of reaching Europe. For what concerns the displaced people we refine data coming from IMDC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre). To analyze the relation between refugees and climate change we overlap two dataset: the index of climate change of Nasa for the year 2017 and the the data of UNHCR about the nationalities of refugees, displaced people and asylum seekers.

Technologies Used

To create the interactions of the maps (where the reader can move and surf looking for data and evidence) we used the javascript library D3. The scroll of readers has been possible instead thanks to the plug-in “Scroll Reveal”. Great part of graphics have been created using Adobe Illustrator. The maps of word displaced people has been created using QGIS and the data of UNHCR. The climate change index map has been created by NASA data using a 0.5°×0.5° grid.

Project members

Web developement and graphics: Mirko Aloisi and Paola Cipriani Contents and datamining: Carlotta Dotto e Daniele Tempera


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