In a country where only 9 percent of the population has access to the Internet and more than half never uses a television, it's critical for journalists and organizations supporting the media to understand how people get news and other information. As part of its efforts to support independent journalism in Afghanistan, Internews mapped the results of a recent media research survey to tell the story of where people tune in for news.
The map shows the percentage of people who have access to a radio, television, mobile phone, and the Internet by province throughout the country, and combines this with demographic information on each province, including literacy rates, access to electricity, and an urban/rural breakdown.
maps tell a true story
Mapping survey data with provincial data shows a rich story of the real situation on the ground in each province, which can vary drastically. In Herat, a more urban area with high access to electricity, 86 percent of the population has a television. In the more rural Uruzgan province, with more limited electricity, 99 percent of the population owns a radio and 90 percent owns a mobile phone -- but there are few televisions and no Internet access at all.
Internews' role in Afghanistan is to support local media initiatives, and data visualizations like this help target funding and resources to where they can be best utilized while simultaneously raising awareness of what is still lacking in the country. The survey data -- Altai Consulting's 2010 Media Research survey -- is all released openly through the site and can be freely downloaded. This is just one in a series of data websites that Internews has put out, including its award-winning visualization of acts of violence against journalists in Afghanistan, which we blogged about previously.
Using open-source technology
We used TileMill, an open-source cartography tool, to design the map and tooltips to overlay the contextual data. There is a large documentation library available on how to use these tools and other web-mapping tips available from MapBox. For more on TileMill, check out our previous blog posts we wrote about the tool, what it can do, and the interactive web maps made with it.