Data Visualization

Blog of the Data Visualization & Communication Course at OSB-AUB

This is my favorite part about analytics: Taking boring flat data and bringing it to life through visualization” John Tukey

The Rising Challenge of Primary Education Expenditure in MENA: Can We Afford to Ignore It?

The Rising Challenge of Primary Education Expenditure in MENA: Can We Afford to Ignore It?

Imagine a journey through time, from 2012 to 2021, where Primary Education Expenditure in the MENA region is on a decreasing trend from 4% to 3%. It’s a concerning trend that threatens the very foundation of education for our children.

The Problem

The problem is crystal clear. When you cut down on education spending, you’re essentially trimming the wings of future generations. The numbers don’t lie. The shrinking budget for primary education means dilapidated schools, underpaid teachers, and a lack of essential learning materials.

The Bright Path Forward

The road to recovery starts with one word: Investment.

  1. Pouring more funds into primary education.
  2. Making the most of available resources.
  3. Shouting from the rooftops about why this matters.
  4. Rewarding those who make it happen.

How do we know our solution works?

Numbers don’t lie, but they can also tell a tale of triumph. And “Cote D’ivoire” is a great example. When increasing the educational expenditure, the percentage of children school drop outs decreased from 31% in 2013 to 3.1% in 2021.

Recommendation

The results speak for themselves. More investment equals better education. Keep the funds flowing, optimize, and let’s champion education together.

When we invest in primary education, we invest in brighter futures. It’s high time MENA governments heed the call and secure quality education for all.

Price Variation of Commodities in Lebanon: A Cross Sectional Study

Price Variation of Commodities in Lebanon: A Cross Sectional Study

In the spirit of collaboration, the incredible individuals behind this project: 

  • Anthony Aramouny
  • Ghassan Shammas
  • Malak Wehbe
  • Mohammad Abdul Rahman
  • Rawad Abi Zeid
  • Zeinab Mortada

Prices Variation Rational

Commodities price variation in Lebanon has been the center of many socio-economic activities and concerns in the past 2 decades. In fact, notwithstanding the underlying concept of inflation (or deflation), the issue has a deep social stability construct: Food security for the poor and the poorer. No matter what the GDP is per capita, it is essential to understand that when commodities prices vary a substrate of the Lebanese society feels the impact much stronger than others: those below the line of poverty.

The Problem

Relying on the data published by www.humdata.org on the yearly prices of goods in Lebanon, it is clear that the consumer encounters prices variation, within the same period of time between the different regions in Lebanon. This is clear in the visuals published below.

We believe that the problem resides in the following issues:

  • Lebanon lacks sufficient personnel involved in the prices control at the economy of economy and trade.
  • It has Limited reach on price controls and prices ceiling.
  • It Lacks specialized domestic food security experts.
  • It lacks total agricultural programming to supplement the market with commodities in crisis.
  • It lacks cheap national transport routes for bulk products such as railways. The cost of transport may exceed 30% of the final cost of a commodity.

Details

It is necessary to divide the time series into 3 periods:

  • From 2012 to October 2019 i.e. precrisis period
  • From October 2019 until end of 2021 (crisis period with subsidized goods)
  • 2022 until now, post crisis and post subsidies.

The banking and financial crisis in Lebanon imposed mainly two constraints on the food security issue: i) the strong volatility of the exchange rate against a fixed low official rate of LB1500/$, ii) a subsequent spiraling inflation rate that was strongly reflected on the prices of goods in the country.

Meanwhile, during the first 2 years of the crisis, the government had subsidies on fuel and its derivatives, wheat and bread and some other commodities. The subsidies were lifted during 2021, and the prices were” floating”. For a short period of time, the prices oscillated without any rational and later stabilized due to the rapid dollarization of the retail market: The Lebanese Pound became almost obsolete, superseded by the US$ as a cash for retail transactions. It is to be noted that the salary of the public sector is still indexed to the “old” Lebanese pound exchange rate and hence the public servant are actually those who suffer the most the impact of price variation in Lebanon.

Explore Our Interactive Dashboard below:
For a more in-depth look at our project, we invite you to explore our interactive dashboard. It’s designed to provide you with detailed analytics, and visual insights into our work.

We value your thoughts and feedback! If you have any questions, comments, or insights, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.
Cruisin’ to Safety: Analyzing US Traffic Accidents and Steering Towards Safer Roads

Cruisin’ to Safety: Analyzing US Traffic Accidents and Steering Towards Safer Roads

Rising Traffic Accidents

The rise in traffic accidents in the United States poses a critical threat to public safety and disrupts the efficiency of road networks. This trend not only jeopardizes lives but also undermines the reliability of the transportation system, leading to unpredictable and dangerous road conditions. Additionally, these frequent incidents have significant economic implications, straining resources and impacting the broader economy. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated the economic cost of motor vehicle crashes at $340 billion, nearly 2% of the U.S. GDP. Beyond immediate costs, these accidents strain emergency services and disrupt the transportation of goods, affecting productivity. The current state of road safety in the U.S. presents a significant challenge, with 1.7 million traffic accidents recorded in 2022, with the majority recorded in California. This alarming figure is not just a standalone concern; it is projected to escalate to an estimated 2.7 million by 2025. Such an increase not only signifies a growing risk to public safety but also hints at underlying issues in traffic management and driver behavior. The most telling evidence of this problem is its direct impact on traffic flow. Approximately 80% of these accidents significantly disrupt traffic, leading to delays, increased travel times, and economic costs associated with lost productivity.

Factors Behind US Traffic Incidents

When addressing the challenge of road accidents, a critical first step is identifying the root cause, which literature suggests can be attributed to either Road Conditions or Driver Behavior. Analyzing the data reveals a notable trend – a significant proportion of accidents occur in optimal weather conditions, free from rain or snow that could compromise traction. Equally, visibility does not emerge as a primary factor, with over 90% of accidents transpiring when visibility extends beyond 3 miles. Intriguingly, the majority of accidents unfold during peak traffic hours, indicating a prevalence of low to medium-speed collisions. Importantly, the data suggests that road design is not a predominant issue in these accidents. This underscores the imperative of delving into driver behavior as a key focus for addressing and mitigating the high frequency of road accidents.

The majority of accidents unfold at key intersections—stop lights, junctions, and crossings—marked as conflict points. These areas pose heightened risk as drivers executing left or right turns must seamlessly merge with oncoming traffic while yielding to vehicles with the right of way. To address this challenge, various mitigation measures can be implemented. Introducing turning loops, employing stop signs, and incorporating give-way protocols are among the strategies aimed at enhancing the safety of these critical points. These measures are designed to streamline traffic flow, clarify right-of-way assignments, and ultimately contribute to a reduction in accidents at these high-risk locations by reducing the need for decision-making by the driver.

Recommended Mitigation Measures

To address the escalating issue of car accidents, particularly those stemming from complex driver decision-making at intersections, a targeted approach is recommended. This approach involves implementing specific traffic management solutions designed to simplify the decision-making process for drivers, thereby reducing the likelihood of accidents. The key elements of this strategy are as follows:

1. Turning Loops:

  • Purpose: Turning loops, also known as dedicated turning lanes, provide a designated space for vehicles to make turns without disrupting the flow of through traffic.
  • Implementation: These loops are often marked by dedicated lanes with clear signage, allowing turning vehicles to enter and exit the flow of traffic more safely.
  • Efficiency: Turning loops have demonstrated a high efficiency rate of 94%, making them a highly effective solution for managing turning movements at intersections.

2. Stop Signs:

  • Purpose: Stop signs are effective in controlling the movement of vehicles at intersections, ensuring that drivers come to a complete stop and yield to oncoming traffic before proceeding.
  • Implementation: Placing stop signs at appropriate points within an intersection helps regulate traffic and minimizes the risk of collisions, especially in situations where the right of way needs clarification.
  • Efficiency: Stop signs exhibit a commendable efficiency rate of 90%, proving to be a reliable means of directing traffic and minimizing conflicts.

3. Give Way Protocols:

    • Purpose: Give way markings and rules dictate which vehicle has the right of way, helping to prevent conflicts between turning and oncoming traffic.
    • Implementation: Clearly marked give-way lines and signs indicate where drivers must yield, promoting smoother merging and reducing the likelihood of accidents caused by confusion regarding right-of-way rules.
    • Efficiency: Give-way protocols have demonstrated an efficiency rate of 86%, contributing significantly to the orderliness and safety of intersections.

In addition to the above insights derived from the analysis of the data at hand, we sought the opinion of technical experts. The work was presented to a group of transportation engineers at Dar Al-Handasah for technical validation on the proposed mitigation measures. The engineers (Marwan Younes, Elie Beyrouthy, Rami Tawk, Elena Abi Aad, Lea Braidy, Tarek Tawouk) have worked on road design projects in Europe, USA, Africa, Arabian Gulf Countries and many more. The team confirmed that, when implemented in compliance with existing codes and standards, these measures would indeed reduce the number of accidents and lead to a safer road network with minimal infrastructure and road layout changes making them cost effective.

These measures collectively represent a cost-effective approach to traffic management. Their implementation, involving relatively simple infrastructure changes like signage and road markings, is less costly compared to more extensive road modifications. The practicality of these solutions lies in their simplicity and effectiveness, making them easily adaptable to various traffic scenarios and beneficial for drivers, pedestrians, and the broader community by creating safer, more efficient road environments.

 

Lighting the Way Forward: Closing the Rural-Urban Electricity Gap with Strategic Government Policies

Lighting the Way Forward: Closing the Rural-Urban Electricity Gap with Strategic Government Policies

The Initial Divide (1994):

In 1994, Tunisia’s electrification landscape presented a striking contrast. Urban areas were almost entirely electrified at 99.87%, but rural regions lagged significantly with only 66.29% access. This gap underscored a larger issue of inequality in access to basic utilities.

The Transformation Journey:

A visual representation, through a two-line chart, illustrates this journey vividly. As the years progressed, a noticeable shift occurred. The lines representing rural and urban electricity access started converging. This wasn’t just infrastructural progress; it was a story of reducing disparity and fostering inclusivity.

Achieving Parity (2016 Onwards):

By 2016, an impressive feat was achieved: both rural and urban areas reached a 100% electrification rate. This landmark achievement was the culmination of a series of strategic initiatives, reflecting Tunisia’s steadfast commitment to equitable development.

Behind the Success:

The road to this success was paved with innovative strategies and strong political will. Implementing technologies like photovoltaic cells in remote areas exemplified the innovative approach to overcoming geographical and logistical challenges.

Conclusion – A Model for the Future:

Tunisia’s electrification story is not just about lighting up homes; it’s about empowering communities, ensuring equitable access to essential services, and setting a precedent for other nations facing similar challenges. It’s a narrative that demonstrates how vision, commitment, and innovation can transform a nation.

Let’s keep this conversation going! What are your thoughts on such transformative initiatives?

Insights for High School Career Guidance Counselors about the Future of Jobs

Insights for High School Career Guidance Counselors about the Future of Jobs

SDG Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

You are probably aware of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. As a High School College Admissions and Career Guidance Counselor, you can play an important role toward achieving GlobalGoal 8, especially the target of full employment and decent work for all. You can help by providing students with data-driven advice about the jobs of the future. It’s important for students to think about their future careers not only in light of their interests, but also in light of which jobs are on the rise.

6 out of 10 workers will require training before 2027

The Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum is one of the best publications that can help you provide students with scientific advice. It is a yearly publication, and the most recent version was published on May 2023. It brings together the collective perspectives of 803 companies, employing more than 11.3 million workers – across 27 industry clusters and 45 economies from all world regions. One of the most striking findings of the report is that 6 out of 10 workers will require training before 2027.This should give you an idea about the pace at which things are moving, and how drastic the landscape of the job market could be changing in the coming few years.

Cashiers, Waiters, Farmers, and Chief Executives are on the list of occupations with the largest job declines

You may have guessed that cashiers are on the list, but have you guessed that waiters and farmers are also on the list? How about Chief Executives? This is why you want reliable data and not intuition as the basis of your career guidance. One of the best resources that you can refer to is the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, particularly the Employment Projections (EP) which provides information about the US labor market for 10 years in the future. The Handbook is only about the US labor market, but it is still a very good resource that gives you insights into future trends regardless of where you are.

The 2022-2032 Employment Projections can definitely inform your high school students’ decisions when they start planning for their future careers. It gives an idea about which jobs are growing, and which jobs are declining.

Healthcare and Tech are on the rise while Sales and Administrative occupations are declining

Let’s start with a macro-level picture of which occupation groups have the fastest percent growth, and which ones have the highest negative growth.

 

The fastest growing occupations

Now, let’s look more closely at the specific job titles with the highest percent growth, and let’s examine the median 2022 wage for these job titles. The top 3 places are: Wind Turbine Service Technicians, Nurse Practitioners, and Data Scientists. This is not very surprising because we know from the previous graph that healthcare and tech jobs are on top of the list of the most growing professions. We also know from the Future of Jobs report by WEF that green jobs are expected to grow more rapidly than other jobs which explains the presence of Wind Turbine Service Technicians on the top of the list.

Healthcare, tech and green jobs dominate the list

If we reorganize the treemap by occupation group, we’ll realize that 26 of the fastest growing jobs come from one of three categories; healthcare jobs (16), technology jobs (8), and green jobs (2). Looking closer at the list above reveals that there is a big discrepancy in  the median annual wage among the the 30 fastest growing jobs. Computer and Information Research Scientists make a median annual wage of $36,620 in 2022, while Home Health and Personal Care Aides make only $30,180.

The top 10 paying jobs in the fastest growing occupations list

You are probably curious to know which fast growing jobs make the most money. Below is a list of the top 10 jobs in median annual wage among the 30 fastest growing jobs in the US. This list is now completely dominated by healthcare and tech jobs with equal share for both.

 

Below is the full list of the fastest growing jobs ordered from the highest median annual wage to the lowest, with the expected percent increase between 2022 and 2032. It looks like Nurse Practitioners will enjoy very high demand (45%) and a very high median pay ($121,610).

 

STEM vs no-STEM

It’s probably clear by now that there is a huge gap in demand and pay between jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and non-STEM jobs.

STEM jobs are growing at 4.7X the rate of Non-STEM jobs.

 

 

STEM jobs are getting paid 2.1X as much as Non-STEM jobs.

 

 

It is in fact overwhelming to ask an 18-year old to choose his or her future career path, but isn’t that what happens when they write their college applications? Students are usually asked to select the major or at least the school (faculty) to which they would like to apply. While a student can always change his/her major in theory, things can get complicated in reality. Say a student is very interested in humanities and engineering. If the student decide to apply to a humanities major but later finds out about this pay gap between engineering and humanities after she is already enrolled in college, it may not be possible for her to transfer from the faculty of Arts and Sciences to the faculty of Engineering. So, it’s critical to provide students with all the information and allow them to take data-informed decisions that incorporate the future projections of the job market into consideration.

Shielding Lebanon’s Future: Nurturing a Healthy Tomorrow for the Next Generation

Shielding Lebanon’s Future: Nurturing a Healthy Tomorrow for the Next Generation

 

“As declared by the united nations Health and well-being are important at every stage of one’s life, starting from the beginning  from the very start.”

A pivotal measure that parents can undertake during the early stages of their children’s lives is to ensure they receive the necessary vaccinations. These vaccinations play a crucial role in preserving the health of the child and contribute collectively to the well-being of society.

A high vaccination rate in countries can lead to:

  • Decrease in individual’s Health Risks
  • Decrease in disease Spread and vulnerability to outbreaks
  • Reduce the strain on Healthcare Systems
  • Economic stability

 

Alarming Drop in Immunization Rates Among Lebanese Children:

 

In 2020, Lebanon witnessed a substantial decrease in the percentage of immunization against Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus (DPT), Hepatitis B (HepB3), and measles among children aged 12-23 months. After more than ten years of stability, the immunization rate dropped to 67% in 2021, marking its lowest point in recent history.

 

Standing Out in a Global Context of Decline:

 

While middle-income and low-income countries experienced a decrease in immunization percentages in 2019 and 2020, Lebanon stood out with the most significant decline. Comparatively, when pitted against low-income, middle-income, and high-income countries, Lebanon witnessed the highest decrease in the percentages of DPT, Measles, and HepB3 immunization during these pivotal years.

This raises crucial questions about the specific factors contributing to Lebanon’s distinct challenges in maintaining essential childhood vaccination rates.

Economic Struggles Impacting children Immunization:

 

In 2019, Lebanon experienced a significant economic crisis, resulting in widespread job losses, with the unemployment rate reaching 13% by 2020. The cost of everyday items surged, approximately 85%, creating substantial challenges for individuals to afford medical expenses and seek necessary healthcare. Accessing healthcare has now become a luxury for many citizens, including children, as parents prioritize essential goods over vaccinations for their kids.

 

In addition, the Lebanese government allocated similar resources in Lebanese Lira to its healthcare system in 2019 and 2020 as it did in 2018. However, the impact of inflation eroded the purchasing power, diminishing the effectiveness of the government’s support, especially given that healthcare costs are often priced in US dollars.

Shielding the Health of the Lebanese :

In the world public health, the ramifications of low vaccination rates against DPT , Measles and HepB3 are far-reaching and dire. The repercussions extend from the heightened risk of individual health issues to the vulnerability of entire communities facing outbreaks. These outbreaks not only strain healthcare systems but also impose a substantial economic burden, creating a global health threat. The gravity of these consequences becomes most evident in the specter of preventable deaths looming over communities.

Recognizing the gravity of these consequences, urgent action is essential. The government must increase its investment in vaccination programs, ensuring free and universal accessibility. It should collaborate with international entities such as World Health Organization and NGOs to get financial support.

These efforts will not only promote individual well-being but also strengthen the communal defense against potential outbreaks, paving the way for a healthier and safer future for all.