Interactive Visualization and Industrial Ecology: Applications, Challenges, and Opportunities

David Font,Vivanco, Paul Hoekman, Tomer Fishman, Stefan Pauliuk, Sidney Niccolson, Chris Davis, Tamar Makov, Edgar Hertwich (2018). “Interactive Visualization and Industrial Ecology: Applications, Challenges, and Opportunities.” Journal of Industrial Ecology online ahead of print.

Abstract: The emergence of increasingly complex data in industrial ecology (IE) has caused scholarly interest in interactive visualization (IV). IV allows users to interact with data, aiding in processing and interpreting complex datasets, processes, and simulations. Consequently, IV can help IE practitioners communicate the complexities of their methods and results, shed light on the underlying research assumptions, and enable more transparent monitoring of data quality and error. This can significantly increase the reach and impact of research, promote transparency, reproducibility, and open science, as well as improve the clarity and presentation of IE research. A review of current IV applications reveals that, while data exploration has received some attention among IE practitioners, IV applications in scientific communication are clearly lacking. With the help of a working example, we explore the value of IV, discuss its operationalization, and highlight challenges that the IE community must face during IV uptake. Such challenges include technical and knowledge limitations, limits on user interaction, and implementation strategies. With these challenges in mind, we outline key aspects needed to lift the IE field to the forefront of scientific communication in the coming years. Among these, we draft the basic principles of a “Hub for Interactive Visualization in Industrial Ecology” (HIVE), a point of encounter where IE practitioners could find an array of data visualization tools that are geared toward IE datasets. IV is here to stay, and its inceptive stage presents many opportunities to IE practitioners to shape its operationalization and benefit from early adoption.

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