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UBS commissions installation to visualise air pollution

UBS commissions installation to visualise air pollution

UBS has come up with a novel way to show off its big data capabilities, enlisting designer Elaine Yan Ling Ng to create an interactive installation that explores global air quality through a feed of data from monitoring stations around the world.

The installation, called Nexus, is powered by a feed of big data from a set of more than 8000 air quality monitoring stations in 68 major cities that has been analysed by UBS Evidence Lab, a specialist alternative data provider within the Swiss bank.

"Visualization is key to data because it helps the human mind to process large numbers more easily. An interactive design installation like this can help people to see, in a very meaningful way, the impact of data on the decisions that they're making," says Barry Hurewitz, global head, UBS Evidence Lab.

Chinese-British designer Ng says her work follows the principles of biomimicry, inspired by the form and behaviors of networks of forest trees and their roots. The organic forms of the installation "evoke how data communicates, much like a colony of plants, as a flow of information through a multitude of interconnected unseen networks and models," says a statement.

On show at the London Design Festival later this month, and on display at UBS' office in Broadgate, London, Nexus will prompt visitors to select air quality data from different cities and countries which will create unique light and kinetic performances akin to the composition of a piece of music.

Lights along the body of the work will display the movement of accumulated data, translated through individually programmed LEDs into an organic flow of light visuals, which illustrate how the air quality has changed in the selected locations over the past three years.

"Global air quality is such an important topic. We are breathing the same air, but in different cities it smells and tastes different. If you break it down and look into it big data represents numbers and figures that can inform design and help us to improve the way that we can live," says Ng.

Since 2014, UBS Research Analysts have utilised the expertise of UBS Evidence Lab for insight-ready datasets on companies, sectors, and themes, resulting in the production of over 3,000 differentiated UBS Research reports.

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