18 February 2013
German national statistics are a thorough business. If, for example, you wanted to know the amount of horsemeat produced in the country, the answer is right there, in table 41331-0002: 967 horses were slaughtered in December 2012, yielding 256 tons of raw meat.
Yet there are some numbers that the government claims cannot be collected. One such indicator is the number of people who live on the street, exposed to the cold. The burden of estimating their number is left to a small chartiable organisation, the Federal Working Group on Help for the Homeless (BAG W).
Determining the numbers and background of those who have fallen through the social safety net is by its nature a hard task. And while BAG W estimates the total number of homeless in Germany, their data is not precise enough to support a regional breakdown. Still, I wanted to get some idea of the regional aspect of this subject. Without quantitative information, the next stop was a qualitative approach: since 1997, BAG W is collecting press clippings on homeless people that have frozen to death. While these cases cannot be taken as hard evidence, they do illustrate a pattern.
On the technical side, the map was a simple project and a good opportunity to familiarize myself with the publishing process for interactive graphics at SpOn. Having gone through this process gives me a better appreciation of the different components and processes involved.