Population Data in VR vs 2D Map

Robert Koch, April 2022

Visualizing Population Change: 2D Maps vs VR

2D Map: Population Change by County

Click here to access the visualization (US Census Bureau website)

This 2D map from the US Census Bureau allows users to visualize and compare population change across different counties in the US from 2020 to 2021. This format of data visualization is relatively common for population data, since a 2D map is a natural fit for data that combines population data with geographic data. However, this format is limited in that only one dimension of population data can be visualized easily -- in a 3D VR environment, more dimension of data become available.

3D Map: Population Change by County (VR)

Click here to access the WebVR app (created by sbrudz on GitHub)

This 3D map depicts the same kind of data as the 2D map above, but with the added dimension of total population of the different counties in the US (in addition to their population change, which is represented by the color as above). While 3D maps like this are not exclusive to VR, the ability to move around the map, interact with the map through scaling, and other potential features makes VR an attractive medium to present this 3D demographic data.