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The Digital Agency for International Development

WaterAid - Interactive map

A responsive, interactive map for international water charity WaterAid showing the worlds access to water and sanitation from 1990 to 2030

Apr 2014 to May 2014



WaterAid wanted to publish the map to coincide with Africa water week at the end of May 2014. The map is aimed at an African audience of policy-influencers to make water and sanitation data more accessible, by the use of highly visual animated graphical devices such as timelines and dynamic charts. The map needed to be responsive so that it could be embedded in any website and be viewed on different sizes of screen. View the Africa map

The Africa map was such a success that we went on to create a map of of the world showing the same data. View the world map



WaterAid were the principle clients on this project and the map was co-branded with WASHwatch which is a web portal aimed at monitoring the commitments made by governments around the world in respect of water and sanitation. Aptivate have also worked with WaterAid on the redesign of this project

The map launched at the end of May and was featured on news and social media sites in Africa as well as being picked up by the Guardian and BBC Africa's Facebook page

Who else picked it up?



Implemented speedily using the lightweight SVG graphics library D3.js, and focusing on low-bandwidth development

We were given a rough sketch as a mockup of how the map would work. We worked closely with the WaterAid team over the course of a single iteration to produce the map. This included daily meetings and reprioritisation of the kanban board, allowing the client greater flexibility to choose which features to develop and when. The process worked very smoothly due to constant communication between decision makers and developers.

A server was set up at Aptivate, and code was continuosly released to it, allowing for speedy user testing and feedback. The final map was then embedded onto the main WaterAid site inside an iframe. The embed code was set up to allow websites to hide both the social share buttons and the branding if required.



For us, the choice of technology varies widely and we are exploring different Javascript and SVG libraries to enable this. Issues affecting choice include bandwidth and browser compatibility along with budget limitations in terms of development time.

We explored various SVG and other graphic libraries before settling on D3.js. D3 allowed development and style flexibility which we needed due to all the interactive elements on the page. Other elements on the page were styled using CSS.