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Joe Parry says: In Intelligence Infographics ” a good sketch is better than a long speech”.

Security: Joe Parry from Cambridge Intelligence and Victor Bjorgan, CEO at ESN and Publisher of TheAmericasPost.com, during the EISIC 2011 Conference.

How should we communicate the results of our analysis to decision-makers? How to visualize key information for decision makers?  The talk of Joe Parry argued that visualisations and infographics play a very important role, not only for analytical processes of data analysts, but also for explaining the analytical results to decision-makers at the highest of levels.

Some care must be taken to avoid various common pitfalls when designing such visuals: the talk will cover bad examples as well as good in order to uncover design guidelines and practical advice for those wishing to pursue a more visual approach.

in that sense, Joe Parry initiated his keynote that these visualization tools are specially important for law enforcement and National Security. In that sense he recalled an old saying ” a good sketch is better than a long speech”.

What is visualitation? asked Parry to the conferencists. Well , a good visualitation does not consist in just good pictures.

About graphs and numbers, Parry said that the use of interactive data and vissualy representation of data is used to amplify cognition. Parry briefly described how a good visualization helps in the Intel analysis. Described some common pitfalls in data visualization. he recommend the reading of the book written by Westell, Duncan and Weeks on visualization in Intel analyIntel analysissis.

Parry also described a model of intelligence analyzing processes. The final product of such analysis is a report.

In the reports, he does not recommend the use of colours to describe the visual variables. He recommend the use of Kinley Visual variables.

To start the visualization of the Analysis in its low phase, Parry mentioned the visualization of pattern of life, but said this is a analytical tool, not a decission tool. He also said that this analysis must be simplified, not use numbers.

During his keynote speech, Joe Parry showed a photograph of former President George Bush looking a wall full of sketches with the networks and interrelations of all individual terrorists participants in the attacks of September 9/11. It was a very confusing material, President Bush was looking at in this photo. Not the best intelligence visualization report.  President Bush was not looking in the photo at a screen with the three followings ingredients that are important in any report: geovisualization, timeline visualization and network visualization.

Parry said, that if only using that photo, it was impossible for former President Bush tot ake any intelligence decission, because there is no report, but only information.

In things not to do, Joe Parry also told participants that it is no good to put pies in the reports, neither 3D presentations. The intelligence reports for decission makers must avoid the use of colour since there is often a color blind among the public. He recommends not to use labels, simplicity instead  of complexity, no use of black backgrounds, no use of pie charts, not use of misleading scales.

Joe Parry showed enthusiasm while talking about the infographics reports of the New York Times NYT. He said the NYT infographics show all needed info to understand what is happening.

Summarizing, Parry described some of what he called as ” design guidelines” for any Intel report, like  first an overview, always  aim for clarity, show context, show how the situation has changed, make comparison easy, all visual elements must be backed by data, and that the report should be so clear and convincing that the decission makers will act backed by the report.

To know more about the subject, Joe Parry from Cambridge Intelligence mentioned some sites that can be of interest like:


infosthetics.com (slow uploading, be patient..)





Finally, Joe Parry ended his keynote speech saying to all participants: “Back Up everything you say!”

Joe Parry´s email address is joe@cambridge-intelligence.com

His twitter is @parry_joe

Phone nr: 07973 787 233

His address is:

idea Space

The Entrepreneurship Centre

3 Charles Babbage Road

Cambridge CB 3 OGT

Biographical Details:
Joe Parry has worked on visualization and graphics systems for intelligence work for the last thirteen years.
During that time he has done software development, design, systems architecture and more experimental
research projects. He has worked with the intelligence communities of the UK, US and other countries. His
recent professional interests include social network analysis and web-based visualisation systems. This year he started his own software company which is producing what he hopes will be part of a new wave of
investigation software.