Do No Harm Guide: Applying Equity Awareness in Data Visualization


Do No Harm Guide: Applying Equity Awareness in Data Visualization

2 years ago 2 years ago Published by
This toolkit was developed by the Urban Institute.


Through rigorous, data-based analysis, researchers and analysts can add to our understanding of societal shortcomings and point toward evidence-based actions to address them. But when data are collected and communicated carelessly, data analysis and data visualizations have an outsize capacity to mislead, misrepresent, and harm communities that already experience inequity and discrimination.

For researchers and analysts to unlock the full potential of their data, they must apply an equitable lens to every step of the research process. Were the data collected responsibly, and do they accurately represent the communities surveyed? Do researchers allow for and incorporate community input? Does the final product consider equity and inclusion in its presentation? The answers to these questions will vary by project, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But for researchers to truly do no harm, they must build their work on a foundation of empathy.

In this guide and its associated toolkits, we focus on how data practitioners can approach their work through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We conducted over a dozen interviews with nearly 20 people who work with data to hear how they approach inclusivity in their work. Our goal is not to prescribe what to do or not do; rather, we want to encourage thoughtfulness in how analysts work with and present their data.

Schwabish, J., & Feng, A. (2021, June 9). Do No Harm Guide: Applying Equity Awareness in Data Visualization. Urban Institute.

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