Voices from
the Frontlines

Climate mobility’s impact on people.
Sustainability & Environment / Webby Winner

Sustainability & Environment

Converting an extensive and abstract research data into actionable and understandable insights. Rugile Dunauskaite, PR Assistant


Q: Can you briefly describe your project and the concept behind it?

A: Voices from the Frontlines raises awareness of climate-forced migration in Africa, and was launched during the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 in Egypt. The website translates a two-year research on climate mobility conducted by the Africa Climate Mobility Initiative into stories that present the problem in an understandable and tangible way, for those who are affected, the general public worldwide, journalists, and policymakers.

Q: Once you settled on your idea, what influenced your decision on the chosen technical approach? How did it differ or go beyond approaches you’ve taken in the past?

A: We took quite a hybrid technical approach, not settling on one solution but picking the best solution case by case, and we kept an open mind throughout the process. The website had to appeal to a broad public – from policymakers to the African people – and thus we developed different technical strategies to address the users’ needs.

Q: What were some of your biggest learning and takeaways from this project?

A: We used several tools like Blender, Mapbox, and React to create compelling and tangible data-driven visualizations. We included photography and videos to showcase personal stories that we could connect to bigger overarching research that was conducted. It resulted in a ‘story book’ where users could experience the challenges that lie ahead while also diving into the entire dataset themselves.

Q: What web technologies, approaches, tools, or resources did you use to develop this experience (WordPress, headless, AI, Sublime Text, HTML5, Adobe XD, etc)?

A: We used a combination of Python, QGIS, and Blender to build interactive texture maps that are animated in the microsite using WebGL and MapboxGL. We created static charts, graphs, and maps using automated Python and QGIS pipelines. Finally, we converted the geospatial grids into vector tiles that could be rendered in the data explorer using MapboxGL.

Q: How did the final product meet or exceed your expectations? What results did you see?

A: It was great to see the site being part of COP27 and featured in many different media outlets. The website and the report are already used by African governments in Niger, Somalia, Uganda, and other policymakers to create adaptation strategies.

Q: Why is this an exciting time to create new digital experiences? How does your team fit into this?

A: Engaging and powerful digital experiences can influence and make a positive difference in people's lives. For our team, with increasing demand for digital experiences that offer greater interactivity, personalization, and ease of use. We presented the issue of climate mobility in such a comprehensive and easy-to-understand way that shows the way forward and brings opportunity for action.

Q: How did you reach a good balance of your own creative ideas and technical capabilities with a fair representation of the client’s brand?

A: We strived for intensive collaboration with all stakeholders involved in the project to ensure high quality in the end result, and we tried to fulfill our client’s vision as much as we could. All contributors tried to push the boundaries to produce the best possible content, design, and code. Our collaboration was an important part of this project's success, and ultimately created an impactful end result.

Q: What did your initial moodboard, wireframe, or prototype look like? How did those ideas change throughout the design process?

A: We started out with the idea of using a map since the stories involve geography. We explored different map styles and elements to visualize data uniquely but at the same time make it easy to explore. In that sense, we stayed with our first idea. We also explored ways to make the stories captivating. We went for an editorial look and feel to make sure the stories read like a magazine in your hands. This also helped to highlight photography.
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